The Phillies finally found a home for Wes Helms. the Phillies hooked up with the Florida Marlins, sending the third baseman to the Marlins for a player to be named later or cash. The deal removes $2.9 million from the payroll. Helms had been designated for assignment when the Phillies signed reliever Rudy Seanez.
It was thought that the Dodgers would be the ones looking to deal for Helms, but they decided to wait and see if he cleared waivers. The gamble cost them the chance to get Helms when the Marlins, who kept open lines of communication with the Phillies regarding Helms throughout the off-season and decided to pick up his full contract for the remaining season.
There is an interesting situation brewing over Tim Lahey. The right-hander was claimed on waivers from the Cubs, who had taken him in the Rule 5 Draft last December. With the signing of Seanez and the return of Brad Lidge from the disabled list, Lahey became the odd-man out and was designated for assignment.
Rule 5 rules make it all interesting. Word is that the Phillies are very interested in keeping Lahey in the organization. Problem is that the Twins are very interested in getting him back in their organization.
Here are the potential storylines.
The Phillies work out a deal with another club and they pick up the Rule 5 responsibilities (keeping Lahey on the Major League roster all season) and the Phillies get something in return. Or, Lahey hits the waiver wire and another team could claim him and again, pick up the Rule 5 responsibilities, just as the Phillies did when the Cubs set him loose. If he isn't traded and does clear waivers, the Twins can take him back or decline to take him back and Lahey could then either accept an assignment to the minors or become a free agent.
It gets interesting if the Twins do take him back, because sources inside the organization say the Phillies would be interested in going so far as to work out a deal with Minnesota to keep the rights to Lahey. This could take a few days to work out, but the Phillies will be working behind the scenes to make this work out the way they want it to finish.
Have you noticed all the talk about Chase Utley being the pick to be the next Phillies MVP? It's pretty much all around Philadelphia these days and has put some pressure on Utley, but you would never know it by how he's performing. The second baseman is off to a great start to the season, hitting .429 with three home runs and six RBI through the first six games of the season. In the slow start that the Phillies are off to - again - Utley has been a bright spot.
PRESSURE, part two!
Pat Burrell has been taking heat almost from the moment that he signed a long-term deal with the Phillies. Now, he's in the final year of that deal and the Phillies have not only not made any moves to re-sign Burrell, but they've talked openly about how he may very well wind up somewhere else next season. In other words, it's almost like they're saying "don't let the door hit you where the good Lord split you".
Burrell is smart enough to know that he's not just playing for the Phillies, he's playing for himself as well. What he gets next season and where he plays are going to be determined by his performance in 2008. Not only is he hitting .421 and tied for the team lead in RBI with Utley, but Burrell has posted a .522 on-base percentage and has struck out just four times in six games while walking four times.
Meanwhile, on the farm...
Greg Golson showed his speed in Reading's win on Saturday. The center fielder stole four bases in four attempts against Altoona, giving him five steals on the season. Offensively though, Golson is showing his same habits and hasn't drawn a walk through the first four games of the season, but he has struck out four times and has the same .278 number for a batting average and an on-base percentage.
Reading's eight stolen bases are more than the other Phillies farm clubs and the major league club combined.
Lehigh Valley is still looking for their first win of the season after getting swept in Scranton. The IronPigs leave Scranton to head for Pawtucket, who have also lost their first four games of the season.
The IronPigs are hitting .148 as a team and just two regulars - Brandon Watson (5-for-16, .313) and Val Pascucci (3-for-14, .214) - are hitting over the .200 mark on the season. Meanwhile, the pitchers have put up a 3.94 ERA on the season, but starters have a 5.31 ERA through their first four starts.
Lakewood's D'Arby Myers is struggling at the plate, hitting just .182 (2-for-11) but is making up for it defensively. On Sunday, he picked up two outfield assists, throwing out one runner at the plate and another at second base.