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Mr. Mxylsplk
12-02-02, 01:11 PM
Yes, I beat carissa to the punch with an article! ;)
Thome signs a 6 year deal believed to be for $87M. Nice to see him in the other league.

http://espn.go.com/mlb/news/2002/1202/1470010.html

Ansky39
12-02-02, 01:23 PM
guess it's cheaper than payin rolen the $140 they offered him...

but at least rolen was young, could play dee,and had no health issues..

imo, bad move for phillies...

Carissa
12-02-02, 01:24 PM
Originally posted by Mr. Mxylsplk
Yes, I beat carissa to the punch with an article! ;) http://www.click-smilie.de/sammlung/grinser/grinser021.gif

I'm a bit surprised he signed with the Phillies though.

Mr. Mxylsplk
12-02-02, 01:30 PM
Originally posted by Ansky39
guess it's cheaper than payin rolen the $140 they offered him...

but at least rolen was young, could play dee,and had no health issues..

imo, bad move for phillies...
6 years may be a bit long, but Thome is a much bigger offensive producer than Rolen is. He is older, but it hasn't slowed him down yet, as his last two seasons were basically the best of his career.

What health issues does Thome have? He's topped 145 games each of the last 7 seasons.

YanksRockMan
12-02-02, 01:30 PM
Originally posted by Ansky39
guess it's cheaper than payin rolen the $140 they offered him...

but at least rolen was young, could play dee,and had no health issues..

imo, bad move for phillies...
actually ansk.......they paid thome a lil more..:P

Lets see: They offered 14 mil for rolen each year

In this case....the Phillies offered thome around 14.5 mil...not much difference, but still they offered more...;)

one thing to cringe....if thome doesnt do good defensively....there is no DH in the NL, so the phils are the dead duck..

YanksRockMan
12-02-02, 01:32 PM
Originally posted by Mr. Mxylsplk

6 years may be a bit long, but Thome is a much bigger offensive producer than Rolen is. He is older, but it hasn't slowed him down yet, as his last two seasons were basically the best of his career.

What health issues does Thome have? He's topped 145 games each of the last 7 seasons.
Sources say that Thome is producing a bad back, but I doubt that will affect him anytime soon...

Mr. Mxylsplk
12-02-02, 01:33 PM
Originally posted by YanksRockMan

Sources say that Thome is producing a bad back, but I doubt that will affect him anytime soon...
Didn't realize that, thanks. If it's true obviously it hasn't slowed him down yet, but a bad back can sap a guy's abilities pretty quickly - our very own Donnie M is sadly a perfect example.

ojo
12-02-02, 01:54 PM
rolen wanted no part of philthadelphia.

can't blame them for shipping him out. this is a good move for them - now if they land glavine - they've got to be reckoned with.

deranged2005
12-02-02, 02:04 PM
Good move for the Phils, but didn't Thome want to stay in Cleveland due to his family??

At least he didnt go to the Red Sox.

wexy
12-02-02, 02:14 PM
What's the distance to the right field seats in the new stadium in Philly?

Carissa
12-02-02, 02:15 PM
http://espn-i.starwave.com/@v=2002120212@/media/mlb/2002/1126/photo/trade_thome_ht.gif

Phillies beat out Indians in pursuit of prized Thome
http://espn.go.com/mlb/news/2002/1202/1470010.html
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ESPN.com news services


The Phillies got their man.

Jim Thome accepted Philadelphia's six-year contract offer Monday to play first base next season. The club's offer to left-handed power hitter is worth about $87 million, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark has reported.

The deal, expected to be announced Tuesday, will not become final until after Thome passes a physical with the Phillies. An official announcement is expected Tuesday.

The Indians, the only team Thome has played for since he was a 13th-round pick in the 1989 amateur draft, were informed of his decision shortly after 2 p.m. ET.

After getting Cleveland to sweeten its five-year, $60 million offer by adding a sixth-year vesting option late last week, Thome mulled over the teams' offers during a Thanksgiving weekend at his house in Aurora, Ohio.

The Phillies, aggressively trying to improve as they prepare to move into their new ballpark in 2004, had hoped to get an answer from Thome's agent, Pat Rooney, on Sunday night, but they did not hear word until Monday morning.

Thome, 32, hit .304 with 52 homers, 118 RBI, 122 walks and a .445 on-base percentage last season. He has hit at least 30 homers seven straight years and has driven in more than 100 runs in six of the last seven seasons. He is a career .287 hitter with 334 home runs and 927 RBI and owns the Indians' single-season and career home run records.

Thome's arrival signals the end of Travis Lee's time as Philadelphia's starting first baseman. Lee came to the Phillies in 2000 in the trade that sent Curt Schilling to Arizona.

While David Bell, signed to a $17 million, four-year contract on Nov. 24, takes over at third base from All-Star Scott Rolen (traded to St. Louis last summer), Thome replaces Rolen's power in the middle of a lineup that includes Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell.

Thome will be the highest-paid player in Phillies history and he is the most prominent free agent to sign with the team since Pete Rose left Cincinnati after the 1978 season.

The Phillies made Thome their primary free-agent target even before the 2002 season ended. They courted him with a Nov. 7 tour of the city that included a trip to the new ballpark's construction site and concluded with a standing ovation at a Flyers' game in the First Union Center.

Philadelphia also is waiting to hear from free-agent pitcher Tom Glavine. The club has offered the left-hander a $30 million, three-year deal, with a fourth year option that would vest based on innings pitched.

Glavine also has received offers from the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves. He told ESPN's Karl Ravech on Monday he does not expect to make a decision for several days.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

junkman73
12-02-02, 02:17 PM
I think he'll do well there. Much better protection with Abreu, Burrell, Liberthal and Bell. He hit 52 in Cleveland with basically no one around him. With their young pitching they should be an exciting team for the next few years.

YanksRockMan
12-02-02, 02:22 PM
Originally posted by wexy
What's the distance to the right field seats in the new stadium in Philly?
According to phillies.com, it's 330'

Bozidar
12-02-02, 02:24 PM
congrats to him. now he can have fun with the mutts pitching 18 times a year :)

YanksRockMan
12-02-02, 02:25 PM
Originally posted by Bozidar
congrats to him. now he can have fun with the mutts pitching 18 times a year :)
if it goes right...he'll have at least 30 HRs against the mutts next year ;)


well...they ARE soft-throwers with soft hearts ;)

silverdsl
12-02-02, 02:26 PM
Thome will definitely help the Phillies. I expect he'll have at least a couple of very good years with them. However, I would be nervous about investing $86 million in a player who has a bad back. When is the new stadium due to be completed? Because playing more than one season on the surface the Phils are playing on right now will not be good for his back. I understand that's one reason why Rolen started having trouble the past few seasons.

-Deborah

YanksRockMan
12-02-02, 02:27 PM
Originally posted by silverdsl
Thome will definitely help the Phillies. I expect he'll have at least a couple of very good years with them. However, I would be nervous about investing $86 million in a player who has a bad back. When is the new stadium due to be completed? Because playing more than one season on the surface the Phils are playing on right now will not be good for his back. I understand that's one reason why Rolen started having trouble the past few seasons.

Deb.....the new ballpark will come opening day 2004.

coalcracker
12-02-02, 03:10 PM
Originally posted by deranged2005
Good move for the Phils, but didn't Thome want to stay in Cleveland due to his family??.

Maybe it was HIS wife that wanted to stay in Cleveland. She is pregnant with numero one. Sorry, no link on that one. :)

Stealthspy
12-02-02, 03:30 PM
IMO bad move. Beef up system with extra money or get YOUNG FA. Youth is key as always....

YanksRockMan
12-02-02, 03:52 PM
Originally posted by Stealthspy
IMO bad move. Beef up system with extra money or get YOUNG FA. Youth is key as always....
actually...i gotta contradict...its a good move

The Phillies' average age: around 27-28...now that is a young age

The Phillies always needed some veteran players who've been through the playoffs, and IMO, this and the signing of David Bell will translate in a much better team next year.

All they have to do is sign a veteran pitcher, since the average age of their pitchers is like 25...:eek:

3B
12-02-02, 04:02 PM
Well, there goes any hope I had in winning MLB.com's Free Agent Frenzy ...

deranged2005
12-02-02, 05:08 PM
Well, I bid him success in Philly. Glad hes out of the AL, he kills the Yankees

Michaels07
12-02-02, 05:37 PM
If it`s not Glavine, will they try to trade for Pettitte?

DJeter1287
12-02-02, 06:34 PM
I was a bit surprised, but best of luck to Thome. :)

YanksRockMan
12-02-02, 09:04 PM
Originally posted by Michaels07
If it`s not Glavine, will they try to trade for Pettitte?
Michaels...I'm not too sure...

I heard that IF, thats if, they don't get glavine, which i think they have a legitimate chance, they will go after Jamie Moyer or trade fo Bartolo Colon. I heard that Pettitte is still in the radar screen.

Mantle 7
12-02-02, 09:25 PM
It's official, Jim Thome has signed with the Phillies. Here's the story.
http://mlb.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/mlb/news/mlb_news.jsp?ymd=20021202&content_id=181645&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp

Michaels07
12-02-02, 09:27 PM
Originally posted by Mantle 7
It's official, Jim Thome has signed with the Phillies. Here's the story.
http://mlb.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/mlb/news/mlb_news.jsp?ymd=20021202&content_id=181645&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp

Wrong Forum, it`s already been posted Mick.

silverdsl
12-02-02, 09:45 PM
Originally posted by YanksRockMan
Deb.....the new ballpark will come opening day 2004. That will help his back for sure to get a better surface to play on after one season. Actually if the new stadium is opening relatively soon I guess it makes sense that the Phillies are trying to sign all these free agents in the hopes that they will lure a lot of new fans to the ball park who will continue going to the new stadium.

-Deborah

DiMaggio5CF
12-02-02, 09:48 PM
Originally posted by Michaels07
If it`s not Glavine, will they try to trade for Pettitte?

Yes, but the only way that we will trade Pettitte is if we get Glavine to take his spot. :D

It's kind of a weird situation.

I'd rather take Pettitte than Glavine, so I don't think we'll sign Glavine. That gives the Phillies one less team to bid against for Glavine's services.

But if Philly loses out, they might turn their attention to Pettitte. But, even if we re-sign Clemens, we won't trade Pettitte unless we have found someone else to take his spot. We won't deal Pettitte to clear a spot for Clemens, who will only be around for another year or two.

So what it means to me is that if Philly loses out on Glavine, Pettitte's off the table too, so they have to look elsewhere. But if we do trade Pettitte to them, that will mean that we will sign Jose Contreras and trade for Bartolo Colon.

The only reason to trade Pettitte is because we've acquired those two top guys and we need to clear a spot and Pettitte's the odd-man-out.

clacson
12-02-02, 09:48 PM
Dumb move. Strictly for PR, IMO. Jeremy Giambi would have been a perfectly decent first baseman and a cheaper one to boot.

This was a move designed to sell tickets for the new ball park. A quasi-admirable idea that the Phillies might actually consider marketing themselves but not a smart baseball move.

TinoBambino
12-03-02, 06:44 AM
I don't know about you, but I'm glad we won't be seeing Jim Thome tee up long balls in Yankee Stadium again. I have a friend from Cleveland who is carrying on like Jim Thome ran over his dog. It just goes to show, it doesn't matter what team you are, if you have the loot, you can sign the talent.

rightfielder21
12-03-02, 07:37 AM
Originally posted by TinoBambino
I don't know about you, but I'm glad we won't be seeing Jim Thome tee up long balls in Yankee Stadium again. I have a friend from Cleveland who is carrying on like Jim Thome ran over his dog. It just goes to show, it doesn't matter what team you are, if you have the loot, you can sign the talent.

I agree, I am gald to get Thome out of the American League... as for your second comment money talks... I think Roger will follow in Thome's footsteps....so much for loyalty...:rolleyes: ... but if I was ever in their positions it would be a tough choice so who am I to say...

jpao89
12-03-02, 07:56 AM
I wonder. ..after Thome's back goes out in one, two, three years tops and the Phillies are stuck with his salary and the other high priced talent they paid for. . .after that. . .how will Bud Selig and the Phillies ownership find a way to blame the Yankees???

Carissa
12-03-02, 08:03 AM
Thome takes one for the team
Union likely pressured slugger to sign with Phillies
COMMENTARY
By Mike Celizic
http://www.msnbc.com/news/842329.asp

Dec. 2 ó Jim Thome is one of the good guys. Always was, always will be. And the shame of it is that a lot of people will never know or understand that, because, for them, he is now and forever just another greedy ballplayer.


IF ITíS POSSIBLE to feel sorry for a guy whoís about to become nearly $90 million richer - before taxes and agentsí fees - thatís what I feel for Thome. He was in the position that most Americans dream of, standing between two rich guys battling to see which of them could throw more money at him. The only problem was that the decision wasnít just about him. It was about everyone who plays ball for a living.

Itís no secret that Thome wanted to stay with the team that brought him to the dance, the Cleveland Indians. He loved the people, loved the town, loved the team, and they all loved him back.

But if that was the case, I hear many of you saying, why did he go with the bigger pile of money in Philadelphia? Why didnít he take less to play for the team he never wanted to leave? Why go to Philly, where the fans can be brutal and the narrow city streets arenít built for the HumVee he likes to drive?

The simple answer is that heís just another greedy ballplayer. And itís an answer that will work if youíre calling the local sports-talk radio station to vent your disgust with the breed. It will even work for facile columns delivered on deadline with no time to think about the Hobsonís choice that Thome faced.

The real issue is that Thomeís contract will set a standard for all other players. Heís one of the big guns, a classic home-run hitter and RBI guy with the kind of game and the high knickers that would have fit right into the 1950s or the 1930s. Other contracts will use as their starting point the numbers that are in Thomeís deal.

The baseball players union knew that, and Thome heard from his fellow players and maybe the union itself about how he wasnít just signing a contract for himself, but for everyone. If he settled low, others would lose income, as well.

Don Mattingly went through the same thing in the mid-80s when he was the best player in the game. He genuinely didnít care how much money he got. Once George Steinbrenner started putting the word ďmillionĒ after the numbers being tossed about, Mattinglyís down-home Indiana eyes glazed over. Whatever the final numbers were going to be, it was going to be more money than a man of his simple tastes could ever want.

But the union got on Mattingly, just as they did on Thome, and convinced him he had to drive the hardest bargain he could, because, as the best player in the game, every other contract was going to be pegged to his. Mattingly used to talk about how it all went down. He understood the obligation he had. He still thought he was making too much money to play a game, but if owners want to spend it, he had little choice but to take as much of it as he could.

Thatís why Thomeís in Philadelphia, not because heís just another greedy ballplayer, but because he was peer-pressured into it. And letís not forget whatever pressure his own agent, who does, after all, work on commission, added to the stew.

Cleveland will miss him sorely. He was as big a hero as the Indians have had going back to Rocky Colavito more than 40 years ago. And the fact that the team couldnít come close to matching Philadelphiaís offer is a signal that the Indians, who dominated their division for most of the 1990ís, are going to be a long time rebuilding.

Thome may soon find he misses Cleveland more than he thought, too. Heís a notoriously slow starter, and Philly fans, who had no problem booing Mike Schmidt, will not find it difficult at all to get on him like sweat on a wrestler if he goes 6-for-April. After all, heíll be the $88-million man, and, if the Phillies go bad, it will be his fault.

He also has a cranky back, but, in the National League, he canít rest it by DHíing, another factor that could cut into either his production, his play, or both. If that happens, it will be the teamís fault, but guess who will get blamed?

Because he is genuinely one of the gameís good guys, I hope it works out, just as I hope that managing in Chicago works out for Dusty Baker. But I fear that the day will come when Thome will wonder why he didnít tell everyone who demanded that he grab the money to take a flying leap and didnít stay in Cleveland.

He didnít necessarily do what he wanted to do, but what everyone told him he had to do, which was to act like a good American and go where the money is. That doesnít make him a greedy ballplayer. It just makes him human.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mike Celizic writes regularly for NBCSports.com and is a freelance writer based in New York. E-mail him at Celizic@yahoo.com.

Bozidar
12-03-02, 08:04 AM
Originally posted by jpao89
I wonder. ..after Thome's back goes out in one, two, three years tops and the Phillies are stuck with his salary and the other high priced talent they paid for. . .I wonder if they insured Thome not just for the value of his contract, but also projected ahead any cap damage he could do if he's still on the roster, but injured..

yeahimweird
12-03-02, 11:57 AM
Do you think with Thome now gone from the Indians, that other players from that team like, Ellis Burks and Omar Vizquel will part ways with Cleveland as well?

Just a thought.

~Tracy~

Mr. Mxylsplk
12-03-02, 12:33 PM
Originally posted by yeahimweird
Do you think with Thome now gone from the Indians, that other players from that team like, Ellis Burks and Omar Vizquel will part ways with Cleveland as well?
Just a thought.

They're not free agents, are they?

Carissa
12-03-02, 02:04 PM
Thome ready to take the stage
Slugging first baseman to be introduced to Philadelphia
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
http://yankees.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/mlb/news/mlb_news.jsp?ymd=20021203&content_id=182135&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp


PHILADELPHIA -- The Jim Thome Era in Philadelphia will officially begin Tuesday afternoon.

At a press conference scheduled for 4:30 p.m. ET, the Phillies will formally announce what has had the town in a tizzy for more than a day -- the signing of Thome, the Major Leagues' premier free agent, to a six-year contract.

The press conference is scheduled to air live on MLB Radio.

Fittingly, the Phillies' future will meet the present at the announcement: It will be made at the Preview Center for the new ballpark under construction for a 2004 opening.

Thome and his 334 career homers arrived in Philadelphia on Tuesday for an exhaustive physical examination and battery of tests befitting a slugger about to ink a six-year, $85 million contract. The tests were necessary for what could be an expensive insurance policy covering Thome's tenure.

The contract includes an $82 million guarantee for six years, plus either a $3 million buyout or a seventh option season at $12 million. That would boost the total value to $94 million. It is the most lucrative contract in Phillies history, dwarfing the five-year, $64 million deal right fielder Bobby Abreu signed during Spring Training last season. Thome is the most prominent free agent to say "yes" to Philadelphia since Pete Rose joined the team prior to the 1979 season.

Thome, a fan-favorite in his adopted city of Cleveland, has begun the difficult process of saying good-bye.

"The fans of this town [Cleveland] mean more to me than they will ever know and I will continue to try and do them proud," he told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Despite what people may assume, this was not just a decision driven by dollars ... and it was not an easy decision to make."

Thome nonetheless took the higher dollars -- nearly $25 million more than Cleveland's best offer, and the security of another guaranteed season from the Phillies. He becomes the third Indians slugger to leave via free agency since 1996, joining Albert Belle and Manny Ramirez. Belle left for the Chicago White Sox prior to the 1997 season and Ramirez joined the Red Sox prior to 2001.

The situation in Cleveland could also have been hurt by the Indians' salary purge that led to the dealing of All-Stars Roberto Alomar and Bartolo Colon last season. The Tribe finished 74-88 in 2002 and it has been speculated that Thome likes the Phillies' chances of winning more than that of Cleveland, the only team he had ever known since being a 13th-round draft pick in 1989.

"My wife [Andrea] and I want the people to know we'll always remain in Cleveland," Thome told the paper. "This is my home, no matter what. The fans in this town mean more to me than they'll ever know, and I will continue to try to do them proud."


Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

DJeter1287
12-03-02, 02:05 PM
Originally posted by yeahimweird
Do you think with Thome now gone from the Indians, that other players from that team like, Ellis Burks and Omar Vizquel will part ways with Cleveland as well?

Just a thought.

~Tracy~

I doubt it. :)

YanksRockMan
12-03-02, 03:24 PM
Originally posted by Bozidar
I wonder if they insured Thome not just for the value of his contract, but also projected ahead any cap damage he could do if he's still on the roster, but injured..
Brian, I am pretty sure that the Phillies have insured Thome in everything.

coalcracker
12-03-02, 05:14 PM
In July, the Indians wanted to trade Thome, but he wouldn't waive his no-trade clause. It's surprising, then, that we only hear, "where is Thome's loyalty? He is a greedy ballplayer" comments. Really glad to see hime in Philadelphis.. I heard he's a great guy.

1TonHumanHamsterWheel
12-03-02, 05:20 PM
Well, the franchise player has left town, and it's just proof that Dolan is running the team into the ground. The bandwagon fans here loved Thome, and now they're all turning against him. The truth is, Dolan doesn't want to put any money into the team when he can keep it all to himself. I'm sure Thome wanted to stay here, but the Tribe just couldn't pay him enough.
I expect the Indians to be competitive again in, say, 2012. Good luck to the Thomer over in Philly-- at least they know that you've got to spend some money to put a good product on the field.
The Cleveland bandwagon is now unloading-- I hope all the fans here enjoyed their stay the past 9 years. :P

Slippery Elm
12-03-02, 06:26 PM
Originally posted by TinoBambino
I don't know about you, but I'm glad we won't be seeing Jim Thome tee up long balls in Yankee Stadium again. . ..


He'll be teeing them up at Shea against the Mets - a lot better!! :D

GoYanks
12-03-02, 09:38 PM
Yes, definitely a move to sell tickets to the new ballpark. Actually, reports are that season ticket sales are already up with the latest signings.

As a Yankee fan, I'm glad Thome went to the NL & NOT the AL East. Still, I'm not sure it was a good move from either his or the Phillies' point of view. Cleveland won't be in contention for a championship for at least a couple of yrs. (if then, & that was Thome's 'stated criteria' for leaving), but I don't see any guarantees in Philadelphia either. It appears to me at this point that he traded 'hometown legend' status for a few more $ (not much) & what he sees as an opportunity to return to the postseason. Of course, there are no guarantees.

GoYanks
12-03-02, 09:45 PM
Originally posted by TinoBambino
I don't know about you, but I'm glad we won't be seeing Jim Thome tee up long balls in Yankee Stadium again. I have a friend from Cleveland who is carrying on like Jim Thome ran over his dog. It just goes to show, it doesn't matter what team you are, if you have the loot, you can sign the talent.

I vividly remember his grand slam in Game 6 of the 1998 ALCS that made a one-run game out of a blowout. The Yanks won in the end anyway, but I've seen more than enough of his HRs -- btw, no Philly in interleague this yr.

seahorse
12-03-02, 10:26 PM
Excellent articles cd. Thanks.

Carissa
12-04-02, 09:23 AM
Philly rewarded for making Thome feel wanted
http://msn.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/stark_jayson/1470793.html
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
By Jayson Stark
ESPN.com


PHILADELPHIA -- Pete Rose called him. Tim McGraw, son of a one-time Phillies relief pitcher of some renown, called him. Ed Rendell, next governor of Pennsylvania, called him.

In the last three weeks, Jim Thome heard from every prominent Philadelphian except Will Smith, Sal Palantonio and Benjamin Franklin.

But through it all, Thome kept telling people around him the same thing: "I want to finish my career in Cleveland."

He told his wife. He told his teammates. He told Indians GM Mark Shapiro three different times last weekend.

So if that was true, and there is every reason to think it was, then what the heck was Jim Thome doing standing at a podium in South Philadelphia on Tuesday afternoon, trying on a Phillies jersey with the No. 25 on the back?

"Well," Thome told ESPN.com, "there's always been something in life about feeling like you're wanted."

And Monday morning, when it came time to decide what he was going to do with the rest of his baseball life, Thome couldn't get past the feeling that, for whatever reasons, he was wanted more in Philadelphia than he was in the only place he'd ever played baseball.

"I don't mean by the fans," Thome said. "I mean by the organization. Don't get me wrong. I don't want to say one bad thing about the Cleveland Indians, because they gave me the opportunity to succeed and meet my goals for what I've tried to do in the game. And I'm not going to leave. We're still going to live in Cleveland. That's our home. ..."

If you feel a giant "but" coming here someplace, this would be the time and place for that "but."

"I feel like I was very honest and upfront with them in the whole process," Thome said. "Last year in spring training, I tried to get something done. It didn't happen. I went all through last season, and I didn't have a contract. Then I heard all the trade rumors after they traded Bartolo (Colon), and I made it very public then that I didn't want to leave.

"So at the end of the year," Thome said, "I just felt like Cleveland had every opportunity to sign me. And I was still going to give them every opportunity to sign me."

From the moment he filed for free agency, the Phillies were doing everything but offering him his own cheesesteak franchise to attract him. He got the star-studded trip to town, the standing ovation at a hockey game, an outpouring of love from the ballpark construction workers, enough recruiting calls to blow up his voice-mail system and, oh by the way, a humongous contract offer.

Yet through it all, Thome kept kicking the door open for the Indians every time he felt it closing.

"Even three days ago," Thome said, "I was on the horn with Mark. And I told Mark I knew going into the whole free-agent process that I'd have to take less to stay in Cleveland. But I wanted to finish my career in Cleveland."

So one of the most pivotal days in these whole negotiations came a week ago, when the Indians added a fifth guaranteed season to their offer -- and on the same day, the Phillies added a sixth year, with a vesting option for a seventh.

For a man who viewed this contract as the last contract of his career, that meant that for the Indians to keep him, the one thing they had to match was the number of years in the contract -- not the number of dollars in the contract.

So three times over the Thanksgiving weekend, Thome said, he called Shapiro, to give the Indians every chance to add that sixth year.

"I told him again, `I'll take less money to stay -- but I want you to guarantee me I'll finish my career in Cleveland,'" Thome said. "It wasn't even just about me. It was about my family. It was about my daughter (who is scheduled to make her first career appearance on the planet in a few weeks). I didn't want to put her in a position where she was starting school at 4 or 5 and she had to say, `Dad, why are we leaving this place?'

"So the length factor, the length of the contract, was the biggest thing in the end. It never had to do with the bottom line on the money. It was the length of the deal. I know people are going to assume what they want to assume. But that's the truth."

When it came time to add that sixth guaranteed year, however, the Indians decided they'd just maxed out. They were looking at a projected half-million drop in attendance even with Thome next year. And they were wary of committing too large a chunk of their payroll during a franchise-renewal project to a guy who would be 38 by the end of the contract.

So when Thome asked for the sixth year, the red light went on. They added incentives and opportunities to vest a sixth season under certain circumstances. But they were not in a position to guarantee another year.

"When you project him out to that age," said one Indians official, "face it -- this guy isn't Barry Bonds -- in body type, in position, in every way. And you don't know what kind of shape his back will be in by then. So it gets tough to do. We're talking about a great guy, a super person. He's an ideal guy to keep in every way. But there's got to be a limit."

The Phillies, on the other hand, were in a very different time and place. They were, ironically, following a road map drawn nearly a decade ago by -- whadda ya know -- the Cleveland Indians, and they were at the point in their evolution that the Indians were in around 1995.

"If you looked back four or five years ago," said Phillies president David Montgomery, "we said then we had a plan. We had things we had to accomplish to make that plan work. And (by this winter) we were finally at a point where things had come together and we were able to make a move like this."

A couple of years ago, it would have sounded awfully bizarre to hear a guy like Jim Thome saying he was coming to Philadelphia because he had a better chance to win than he did in Cleveland. But the earth keeps on spinning, and nothing stays the same, and the juxtaposition of the Indians and Phillies' places in life sums up exactly how crazy those spins can be.

"I'm looking forward to this," Thome said. "I'm excited I'm here. I'm not looking back. They've made their choice. They're doing what they want to do in Cleveland, and I respect that, from a business point of view. But I hope people don't begrudge me because I wanted a chance to win. I wanted to go back to the playoffs again and experience the fun of the playoffs. And I felt like this was a place where I could do that again."

So the phone calls can stop now. Allen Iverson won't be calling. Donovan McNabb won't be calling. Thome won't be hearing from Mike Schmidt, Robin Roberts, Grover Cleveland Alexander's great-grandchildren or Hall and Oates. The contract is signed. The recruiting is over. And not a moment too soon.

"My phone had 100 messages a day," laughed Jim Thome. "I won't miss that."

Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

junkman73
12-04-02, 12:38 PM
Thatís why Thomeís in Philadelphia, not because heís just another greedy ballplayer, but because he was peer-pressured into it.

Rumor has it they made him smoke and drink, too. Give me a break. If he wanted to stay in Cleveland, he'd be in Cleveland right now.