Whether or not they make the playoffs, the Phillies, who at
week's end were a half game behind the Marlins for the National
League wild card, have gotten their money's worth out of first
baseman Jim Thome, the former Cleveland Indian who signed the
richest free-agent deal in club history--six years, $85
million--last December.

Despite moving to a new league, batting in a mediocre lineup and
playing in a home ballpark (the spacious Veterans Stadium) that's
not as hitter-friendly as Cleveland's Jacobs Field, Thome had
socked 44 home runs through Sunday and had driven in 126 runs
while batting .268.

Thome's thunderous 43rd homer was the go-ahead run in last
Thursday's 5-4 victory--the Phils took two of three from the
Marlins--and marked the 12th time this year that he had homered
to give his team a lead. Following the blast, the city's new
favorite son was called out of the dugout by the crowd for the
third time in three days.

Says catcher Todd Pratt, "I know I'm not supposed to say it, but
I used my Player's Choice vote [an award voted on by members of
the Players Association] on him. Jim Thome is the league MVP as
far as I'm concerned. He's everything to us."