The Phillies are in the process of pitching some serious woo at Jim Thome. He has been called their number one priority for the off-season, him and a new Tivo in Larry Bowa's office to replace the three he smashed last year. The Phils cannot yet discuss money with the free agent (although rumor has it they will offer him a 6-year, $90 M contract), but they can wine and dine him, or more aptly Schmidt beer and cheesesteak him. And the Phillies brass pulled out all the stops.
The day started with a visit to the beautifully crumbling Veterans Stadium. Next up was a tour of the new Phillies stadium that is currently under construction and set to open in 2004. At the new stadium, Thome was quoted as saying, "Wait, weren't we just here?" Last, he visited the FUC, the First Union Center, to be feted to a standing-O by the Flyers fans, who even stopped pouring beer on the Devils fans while Thome was in the house.
As a Phillies fan, I am thrilled that they are courting a star of his caliber instead of dumping money on dreck like Terry Adams. That said, I am concerned that, being unaccustomed to courting a star, the Phillies' brass may be getting in over their heads. They are allegedly set to offer a 32-year-old first baseman a 6-year contract. Oh, did I mention that they are set to pay him $15 M per annum? It is highly unlikely that Thome will be worth $15 M in 6 years. At 38 years old, will he even still be a quality first baseman? Who knows?
Of course given the allure of Cleveland (I'm joking, don't you know), the Phillies may never even get a second date let alone consummate a $15 M marriage with Thome. The way that the Phillies have openly courted Thome, they may be setting themselves up for a big fall this postseason. It could ruin their 2003 season and their plans for the new stadium in 2004, and for the prom. The Phillies brass won't be able to take no for answer. They'll start to stalk Thome. The authorities will get involved. Restraining orders will be issued. It's an ugly story.