Sunday, November 10, 2002

Phils set to spend on Thome

Baseball notebook

Enquirer news services

PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Phillies are expected to offer free agent slugger Jim Thome a multiyear contract Tuesday that by all indications will carry an average annual value of $15million.

An offer of five years and $75 million is a safe bet for the Phillies to throw at Thome, who would provide RBI, blue-collar leadership and increased ticket sales.

Such figures are not unheard of for a slugging first baseman.

In November 1998, the Anaheim Angels signed Mo Vaughn, then at the top of his game, to a six-year, $80 million contract. Average annual value: $13.3 million.

In October 2000, the Toronto Blue Jays gave Carlos Delgado a four-year, $68 million contract extension. Average annual value: $17 million.

In December 2000, the Houston Astros gave Jeff Bagwell a five-year, $85 million contract extension. Average annual value: $17 million.

In March 2001, the Colorado Rockies extended Todd Helton's contract for nine years and $141.5 million. Average annual value: $15.7million.

And last winter, the New York Yankees scored Jason Giambi for seven years and $120 million. Average annual value: $17.1 million.

The Cleveland Indians reportedly opened their effort to retain Thome by offering a four-year deal worth about $11 million a season. But Thome's ties to Cleveland are strong, and that could overcome any financial incentive to go elsewhere.

If the Phillies were to bat 1.000 and sign their top three free agent desires - Thome, pitcher Tom Glavine and third baseman David Bell - they would lose their first three draft picks next season.

It's a price general manager Ed Wade is willing to pay.

"You don't want to interrupt the flow of development," Wade said. "But at the same time, if you're willing to trade good prospects to help your team, then you have to be willing to lose potential draft picks that could someday become the same type of prospect."

BRAVES: Pitching coach Leo Mazzone will return to the team next season.

Mazzone, 54, has been on manager Bobby Cox's coaching staff since the middle of the 1990 season, and his pitching staffs have produced six Cy Young Award winners for the Braves, who have finished first or second in ERA every season since 1992.

GM MEETINGS: The general managers meetings begin today in Tucson, Ariz., and run through Thursday. In addition to talking about signings and trades, GMs will discuss rules, policy and the state of the game.

One agenda item will be the number - and age - of batboys that are allowed in the dugout during games. This became an issue during the World Series when Darren Baker, the 3-year-old son of former San Francisco Giants manager Dusty Baker, was nearly trampled at the plate while retrieving a bat in Game 5.

General managers also will review the new collective-bargaining agreement. Part of that agreement includes language on how uniforms should be worn.

Bob Watson, baseball's dean of discipline, said players no longer would be allowed to pull their pants bottoms over their shoe tops. Overly baggy pants are also out.

The general managers also are expected to discuss the possibility of expanding the first round of the playoffs to best-of-seven.

ALL-STARS: Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi hit back-to-back homers twice Saturday in the major-league all-stars' 8-1 exhibition win over the Japan Series champion Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo.

Bonds and Giambi had consecutive home runs in the first and fifth innings for the all-stars, who begin a seven-game series against Japan's best players today.

"I couldn't let Barry show me up," Giambi said. "He hit another one; I had to, too. I'm just trying to follow him and do what he does."

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Phils set to spend on Thome

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