Four years ago today, April 20, 2008, the Blue Jays released Frank Thomas.
The Jays signed Frank Thomas to a two year deal, plus vesting option for a 3rd year before the 2007 season. Frank had had a really good 2007, hitting .277/.377/.480, with 29 home runs. Then he started 2008 slowly, hitting just .167/.306/.333 in his first 72 at bats. Thomas was a notoriously slow starter for much of his career. As late as June 3rd, 2007, Frank was hitting just .217. After that he went on a roll.
So when he started slow in 2008, most of us figured he'd get it together at some point, but manager John Gibbons decided Frank should sit on the bench. Frank did not react well. Here is how Hugo put it at the time:
Thomas did not shake hands with his teammates after the game and spoke angrily to reporters, indicating his belief that the decision was based on money, not putting the best team on the field.
Frank figured he was being benched so that he wouldn't reach the number of at bats needed to vest his option for the next season. He was likely right. They replaced Frank, that night, with Joe Inglett, a nice enough player but not someone that would give you a lot of production.
Hugo put up a poll,and most BBBers didn't think releasing Frank was a good move. We were wrong, Frank didn't play in 2009. It saved the Jays $10 million for 2009 and Frank didn't play in 2009.
The Jays finished 86-76 that year. Matt Stairs was the primary DH, after Frank left, and he wasn't great, hitting .250/.342/.394.