Thursday, November 16, 2006

Helms’ Move Is Shrewd

Phanatic Note: The Phanatic’s Jared Trexler will grade every Phillies’ move this offseason, and compute a final report card when GM Pat Gillick’s shopping spree has hit budget.

By Jared Trexler
The Phanatic

High character. Plays the game the right way. Low risk, high reward. The “tools” Phillies general manager Pat Gillick has professed as winning traits can all be found in the newest player manning the hot corner.

Wes Helms is just one more reason to believe.

While on the surface, the acquisition of Helms won’t light up Jody Mac’s phone line or put butts in the seats, it makes the Phillies significantly better at a position that needed immediate improvement.

Stats don’t lie.

2004 Pittsburgh 112 182 17 43 2 13 .275 .319 .236
2005 St. Louis 139 421 64 120 5 44 .343 .361 .285
2006 Philadelphia 123 322 42 68 3 32 .303 .273 .211

2004 Milwaukee 92 274 24 72 4 28 .331 .361 .263
2005 Milwaukee 95 168 18 50 4 24 .356 .458 .298
2006 Florida 140 240 30 79 10 47 .390 .575 .329

The difference is rather startling. Helms has never had the opportunity to be a full-time player, receiving 82 less at-bats than Nunez last season. However, he collected 11 more hits, clubbed seven more home runs and drove in 15 extra runs.

You can easily see all of those statistics above. The 31-year-old Helms seems to have finally “got it,” as they say in baseball circles. He has shown stark climbs in productivity over the last three seasons, posting an OBP 87 points higher and a slugging percentage over twice as high as Nunez's marks last season.

Gillick has patched together a perfect platoon, and by platoon I don’t mean equal playing time. Helms should start four out of every five games with Nunez entering many of the tight contests as a late-inning defensive replacement.

Manager Charlie Manuel should also consider penciling in Nunez at third base when quick-working Jon Lieber toes the rubber.

Helms’ fielding percentages in his last three seasons at third base: .904, .964, and .938. During that same period, Nunez’s rating with the glove was .833 in 2004 (an outlier because he only played six games at the hot corner), .963 and .959.

The numbers are magnified when you consider Nunez has played predominantly third base the last two seasons, while Helms has bounced around between third base, first base and right field.

Talent evaluators will tell you that Helms has far less range and is nowhere near as agile around the bag.

Helms may also see some time in blowouts at first base, giving a much-needed rest to Ryan Howard.

The terms of the contract also appear appetizing. The Philadelphia Daily News’ Paul Hagen reported that the deal would pay Helms $5.5 million over two years in guaranteed money, with a club option for a third year that could stretch the contract to $8 million.

If the Phillies exercise the club option – and if I had to look into the future I doubt they would – the deal would be worth $5 million less than the Chicago Cubs paid Mark DeRosa earlier in the week.

That money can go a long way to tie up a fifth starter or bullpen piece. Joe Borowski, Chad Bradford or LaTroy Hawkins plus Helms are a better package than just DeRosa.

Bravo Pat. Now go find the Phillies a big bat.

Grade: A-

**For Hagen’s story on the Phillies' new signing click on

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Copyright 2006
The Phanatic


Anonymous said...

Helms is an upgrade offensively but he is not a good fielder.

Anonymous said...

Helms > A-Rod