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Blockbuster Part Two: Jim Thome Trade

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Insignia of 617 Squadron, Royal Air Force, which became famous for "blockbuster" raids during the Second World War

Phillies trade Jim Thome to the White Sox for Aaron Rowand, LHP Gio Gonzalez, and LHP Daniel Haigwood

I like this trade because it opens up some playing time for younger guys on both teams.

The Phillies now have a spot open for Ryan Howard, and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see him out-hit Thome in 2006. Thome is an outstanding power hitter, but he's getting old, and missed half of '05 with the elbow injury. There is no guarantee that he will rebound completely in '06, although being a DH (assuming the Sox can keep Konerko in the fold) could help.

Rowand is a solid player but is at his peak now. The White Sox should probably turn over his outfield spot to rookie Brian Anderson, who had no obvious place to play in Chicago until this deal. So I like the fact that both Howard and Anderson will get chances in '06.

Prospect-wise, Gio Gonzalez is one of my favorites, having gone 13-6 with a 2.82 ERA between Kannapolis and Winston-Salem, with a 163/47 K/BB in 130 innings. All of his component ratios are very good, he throws strikes, and he knows how to pitch, being very advanced mound-wise for a 20-year-old. Assuming he stays healthy, he projects as a number two starter. I haven't rated him as a prospect for the book yet, but he'd be at least a Grade B.

Haigwood has received less notice but is a solid prospect in his own right, combining for a 14-3 record and 2.82 ERA between Class A and Double-A with a 160/64 K/BB in 144 innings. Although his K/IP is better than Gonzalez's, he actually doesn't throw quite as hard, relying on his curveball and changeup for strikeouts. He's also older at age 22. I'd rate him as a Grade B/B- prospect off the top of my head, but will need to look deeper into the numbers and reports before making that official in the book.

Related Non-baseball trivia question in the diary section.