As the more regular visitors to this site will see, we're messing around with the look a little bit. Actually, the early reviews indicate that the new layout is a rip-off of the old site... maybe. Instead of calling it a "rip-off" I'll call it a "throwback." You know, kind of like the Phillies new uniforms that look just like their old ones from the late 1940s.
Everything old is new again, right?
Anyway, as other folks may have heard, a sucker is born every minute. In that regard, the Florida Marlins agreed to send a player to be named later to the Phillies for the recently designated Wes Helms.
I'm not certain, but Helms' arrival to the Marlins might push the team's payroll slightly greater than Alex Rodriguez's annual salary.
Nonetheless, the Phillies can finally close the book on The Wes Helms Era. Unlike other eras in Phillies' history, Helms' one season with the team resulted in a playoff appearance.
Take that, Mike Lieberthal.
Again with the misdirection? First the Phillies say they need/want to add a third baseman and a pitcher only to admit that they will likely head into Spring Training with the team as constructed. That means Wes Helms and Greg Dobbs holding down the hot corner and staff that most folks agree needs one more arm.
Nothing is ever good enough, is it?
Anyway, the Phillies signed third baseman Pedro Feliz yesterday to a two-year deal worth $8.5 million with an option for a third year. Most observers and fans like the addition of Feliz for a handful of reasons. One is that Feliz is an excellent fielder. He's so good that shortstop Jimmy Rollins said, "There won't be too many balls getting through on the left side," with the addition of Feliz. Not exactly a bit of humility from Rollins, but give the guy a break, he won the MVP and the Gold Glove.
If you think Rollins Cadillac-ed plays in the past, wait until 2008.
Regardless, Feliz is a good fielder and for a pitching staff that sometimes will need divine intervention playing in the bandbox in South Philly they're going to need a whole team of guys like Feliz and Rollins catching as many balls as possible.
Feliz can also hit a few homers. Playing in the pitching-friendly INSERTCORPORATENAMEHERE Park, Feliz hit 100 homers in the last five seasons and nearly had 100 RBIs (he had 98) in 2006. Substitute Citizens Bank Park for the ballpark in San Francisco for 81 games and Feliz suddenly is a 30-homer threat.
"We got better," manager Charlie Manuel told reporters yesterday. "He's a good defensive player. He's got power. He'll hit probably sixth, seventh, somewhere in there. I think putting him down in our lineup will help him. He was called on to hit in the middle of the lineup in San Francisco. A couple years ago, he might've been pressing to do too much because they had Barry Bonds there."
But most importantly, Feliz is not Wes Helms. Actually, Feliz's arrival could lead to Helms's departure if the Phillies can find a team willing to take his contract off their hands.
So there are the good parts, not to mention that Feliz will probably benefit from getting out of San Francisco. But Feliz is hardly the second coming of Brooks Robinson. Instead, he might be a more powerful version of the last third baseman the Phillies got from the Giants. Yep, remember David Bell? Statistically, Feliz seems to have the edge on Bell in the field and is a better slugger, but he makes a ton of outs and swings at everything. That's no exaggeration either - Feliz has a ridiculously low on-base percentage of .288 and averages 28 walks per 162 games.
But for as much as Feliz swings at nearly every pitch, he really doesn't strikeout too much. That's relative, of course, but last season Feliz hit 461 fair balls. That amounted to 3.073 per game and a .306 batting average on all balls put into play.
In other words, don't blink when Feliz comes to the plate because he's going to swing.
Back to the Bell comparison for a second: Feliz and Bell battled it out for the most grounded into double plays during 2005 and 2006 with Bell holding a 42-38 edge. However, by hitting all of those fair balls Feliz has been in the top 10 in making outs over the past two years. The leader in making the most outs? Jimmy Rollins.
It's that left side of the infield... gripping and ripping.
AMARO JR. We pursued Wes for quite some time, it actually began last year. We’re pleased to have signed him to a 2-year deal with a club option. We’re pleased to bring Wes here to Philadelphia. We think he’s the kind of guy, with the makeup and personality that we want. He had a tremendous year last year with Florida and we’re glad he’s with us now.
HELMS It’S an honor to get to have a chance to play for a winning team again. That was my ultimate goal coming into this off season was to be a part of great organization and a winning team. I just knew by playing against this team last year in the division what they can do. Especially with the young guys getting another year under their belt.
I’m going to be a good fit here because of - like Ruben said - my personality. I’ll get along with all the players. I do what is asked of me to do.
YOUR ROLE? Charlie just said to me you are going to play a lot. He said you’ll fit in the lineup well and you’ll play a lot and you’ll play third base. Maybe in an American league game I’ll be the first baseman and Howard will DH and give him a rest from the field. No terms were discussed about playing time. He basically said you’ll play a lot and you’ll be a big part of the team.
LIMITED FIRST BASE LAST TWO YEARS? I do know that I will play more third base. I don’t think it will be an adjustment because I came up as a third baseman and I played third base primarily my whole career with the exception of the last two seasons.
I know what to do. I know the maneuvers. I worked hard in batting practice on ground balls to stay sharp. It’s a corner infield position - first or third - and you see the ball of the bat the same way.
MORE FIT? Yeah, I got myself a personnel trainer the past two years (Lee Gravlee). I’ve always worked hard I just never knew what to do. I did the typical things to build strength. But I got a guy who taught me how to eat and train for baseball. It totally changed my career. Down to making me more agile in the field, to my bat speed, everything just got better. I owe the world to him for that.
LAST YEAR SHORTER QUICKER SWING? I’ve always been a guy that expected too much from myself so I tried to do too much. I think I got smarter as my career went on and now understand sometimes less is better.
The last two seasons I let the ball get deeper. I concentrate on hitting the ball to second and to right center and even if I’m early, it’s still a fair ball.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST THINK PHILLY? I was coming here last year. Just to put it out there the big reason I signed with Florida had nothing to do with the Phillies, it was they had a young team and I had a feeling I’d get to play a lot more down there. A goal of mine was to get myself back to someone giving me an opportunity to get back to those 400-plus at bats.
I can sit back and say I made the right decision but now it’s time to go out and do what I had to do. I told my wife that David Bell is not back in Philly and I really do believe that Philadelphia will be a spot I’d love to go to.
THE DECISION? It came down between the Phillies and Yankees. I definitely from the beginning wanted to stay in the National League. I know all the pitchers, all the hitters and how to play them from the field. Everyone I ever played with said it’s an adjustment and it’s a more comfortable for me to come to.