Favre Comparisons Don’t do Justice to Thome

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While the Jim Thome/Brett Favre comparisons are fun (I am as guilty as anyone of partaking in them), they are filled with holes. Favre was the Vikings quarterback, the face of the franchise and leader of the team. He was expected to carry the offense. As Favre went, so did the Vikings - all the way from 12-4 to 6-10.

When the Twins signed Thome a year ago, they envisioned his role as a supporting one - pinch hit in late innings, force opposing managers to make adjustments and get an occasional start at DH. Before Justin Morneau’s injury in July, that’s exactly what he did. After Morneau’s concussion of course, he became a regular and provided the most memorable moments in Target Field’s inaugural season. That was by accident, not design.

Thome won’t duplicate his amazing 2010 season, let’s dispel that notion right away. He shouldn’t have to. If Morneau remains relatively healthy, Michael Cuddyer will move back to righfield (where his powerful right throwing arm comes in handy), Jason Kubel will get a lot of at-bats as the designated hitter and Thome will be primarily a bench player - a very intimidating one.

Personality wise, Thome and Favre are polar opposites. Favre is an attention craving diva, Thome is a genuine everyman - Hank Hill who can crush a baseball. Thome utilizes his cell phone to keep up with the wife and kids, Favre has found more creative uses for his.

In 2010, Favre was Minnesota’s most overpaid athlete, Thome its most underpaid. Last summer, Favre’s waffling milked millions more out the Vikings, Thome meanwhile reportedly left over $1 million on the table in Texas to stay with the Twins.

It’s difficult to predict how 2011 will turn out for Thome; when an athlete is fortunate enough to play into his 40s, each year is an adventure. He should hit the 11 homeruns needed to reach 600, but likely won’t match 2010’s total of 25. He might be available all season or his aching back might put him on the Disabled List.

There is one thing you can count one however, no matter how well or poorly this season goes for Jim Thome, he will handle himself with humility and class. That’s where he and Favre differ the most.

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