The Phillies, who didn't even get involved in the bidding for Japanese third baseman Akinori Iwamura, seemed to stay away from the higher priced, bigger names to fill a need at third base. Instead, they were pursuing Mark DeRosa and Wes Helms.
Actually, Helms was the guy that they insist they targeted all along, and Friday, they made his signing official. Helms made the decision to come to Philadelphia, rather than pursuing a deal with the Yankees, who were reported to have offered more money. The reasoning was the atmosphere and Helms said that he just didn't see himself as a New York sort of guy. "It was just living in New York; it was not my personality," said Helms when introduced to the Philadelphia media. Oh yeah, he referred to Philadelpha as "more friendly", too.
In Helms, the Phillies have added a guy who they believe will handle the majority of work at third base and who they believe can hit 15-20 homeruns as a right-handed bat in a lineup that is currently heavily left-handed leaning. Defensively, Helms isn't bound for any Gold Glove Awards, but the Phillies have Abraham Nunez as a defensive option. Nunez will also return to a bench role for the team, spelling Helms, shortstop Jimmy Rollins and second baseman Chase Utley on occasion.
Helms also struck out just 85 times over 408 at bats in the last two seasons, since starting a new physical regimen. Thanks to a personal trainer, Helms has lost fat and excess muscle that he believes was interfering with his swing. He has also cut down on his swing, helping to reduce the number of strikeouts.
Helms signed a two-year deal with an option for a third season. He'll be paid a guaranteed $5 million for two seasons and a total of $8 million should the Phillies pick up the option for 2009. Last season with the Marlins, Helms hit .329 with 10 homeruns in 240 at bats with the Marlins in 2006.