Sometime over the course of today, Wes Helms will finalize a deal which will make him a Phillie through 2008. He’ll bank 5.5 million with the opportunity of a third year option of up to 8 million dollars.
Congratulations Wes! You’re .329 AVG over the course of 140 games last year has propelled you to almost double your total career earnings , 6.68 million since 1998, in just two years of play. Good for you. But, what can you expect from a team that may wish to find itself into the ’07 post season?
You’ll be penned as the opening day starter in 2007 with minimal expectation from the fans. You’ve only played 267 innings of third base over the last two years and only 88 1/3 in 2006. If someone asked me which third baseman in 2006 had a .938 fielding percentage and 3.06 range factor, I would immediately say David Bell. Of course I would quickly be corrected because it is you who has such David Bell-like fielding numbers. Don’t be discouraged Wes. I’d imagine that with a Phillies lead heading into the later innings you’re going to hit the showers early. You’ll get the Burrell treatment and get replaced by Abe Nunez who is always eager to perform the mop up duty for the defensively inclined position players he spells late in the game.
On the days you’re not playing you’ll be a huge upgrade to the non-existing Phillies bench. Down the stretch last year we counted on "Sausage Beater" and "Phillie Killer" to provide pop to set pace for the array of bench speed. Ask around and you’ll see that the "Phillie Killer" did just that even though he now wears the P on his hat. Mike Bourn, Chris Roberson and resent demotee Joe Thurston had trouble creating any offense of their own. But, I know you’ll set the table for them. Hitting frozen rope doubles in the gap then make the turn for the bench as your fleet footed replacement takes over for you.
But it’s ok. You’re not hear to win games with you’re glove or speed. You are a guy who sees the ball well and can hit the ball in the gaps, evident by your 24 extra base hits. If the Phillies go into spring training with you as their top free agent signing then we all may as well just look forward to the 2008 season instead.