Thursday, May 31, 2007

Helms Deep...

...on the bench.

Earl Weaver was one of the most successful managers in major league baseball history. This earned him the privilege of having someone transcribe his musings into an entertaining book called Lemme Tell Ya Why You're Doin' It All Wrong (or something like that, anyway). One of the "laws" he set forth in the book was, If you never make a promise to a player, you'll never have to break one.

Charlie Manuel does not appear to be familiar with Weaver's laws. When the Phillies inexplicably signed Wes Helms this winter, Manuel even more inexplicably told him, You're going to play a lot.

I thought that was pretty foolish, both because it represented a violation of Weaver's law against promises in general, and because, without going into too much detail, Wes Helms sucks.

So here it is the end of May, and where is Wes Helms? Sitting and watching, most nights. Baseball Reference has a cool new feature that displays all the lineups every team uses for every game. Your 2007 Philadelphia Phillies, under the direction of Charlie Manuel, ran Wes Helms out there pretty much every day for about a full month after the start of the season. Since then, it's been a steady diet of Abraham Nunez, with a bit of Greg Dobbs mixed in lately. For a while there, Helms picked up some playing time at first base because Ryan Howard was hurt. But Howard's back now, and Helms is planted on the bench.

Let's let Charlie explain why:

“I'm going to put the people in that I think are going to win that day,” Manuel said. “And if you do well, you've earned the right to play more.”

To put it that into basic English: Expect to see a lot of Greg Dobbs and Abraham Nunez in the coming days. Wes Helms? Not so much.


“Wes Helms is going to get a chance to play,” Manuel said. “He can pinch hit, play first or third. I still have all the confidence in the world in Wes Helms. I feel as good about him as the day that we brought him in here.”

So is this the start of a three-man platoon?

“You can call it anything what you want,” Manuel said. “I call it when you are hot, you are hot.”

And who can blame Charlie? Helms hasn't hit a home run yet, and his slugging percentage is .309. Three-oh-nine! Now that he's not playing regularly, he doesn't have enough plate appearances to show up on the league leader boards, but if he did, he would rank almost last in slugging percentage and OPS, down there with Omar Vizquel and Adam Everett. But at least those guys are good defensive shortstops. Helms has a crummy .918 fielding percentage at third base and lousy range. All in all, he was pretty much the worst regular in the league. There was no way Manuel could keep writing his name in the lineup.

The Phillies are paying Helms a total of $5.5 million this year and next, with a club option for $3 million for 2009. Think they'll pick it up?

Stop The Occupation.

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