Unread for 5/6

10 Team Mixed Head to Head League
Someone is offering me Smoltz, Weeks, and Helton for Brandon Philips and Hunter Pence.  Do you think I should pull the trigger on this one?

Thanks,

Joe
Totowa, NJ

Hey Joe,

How badly do you need saves? If you don’t, I would stay with Phillips and Pence. Weeks, despite his atrocious .197 hitting thus far, has 20/20 ability (he had 16 homers and 25 steals last season) IF he can stay healthy. He hasn’t played more than 118 games in his three seasons in the Majors so he can be considered a major health risk. It’s also worth noting that Weeks hit .239 and .235 in two of his three seasons, so could you also afford to take a drop in team batting average? Phillips went 30/32 last year and there is no reason to think he can’t do it again. He has five home runs and five steals and is hitting .278, which is in line with his .276 and .288 averages of the past two seasons. I like Phillips more this year and beyond as the second baseman.

Pence or Helton is an interesting discussion. Helton is more valuable than most people think. He is a career .331 hitter, including his .279 batting average this season. You have to believe that his average will rise, though, as his on-base percentage is still north of .400 (.401). This shows that he is seeing the ball well at the plate, still drawing walks, so perhaps he is hitting the ball where the defense is, instead of where it isn’t. Many think of Helton in his twilight years as purely an AVG hitter, but his OPS the past two seasons is .880 and .928. Sure, he’s not a dynamic home run hitter, but his 82 doubles the past two seasons prove that he doesn’t have to hit home runs to be an important chip in a team’s offense.

What I like about Pence is his power/speed combination. He’s starting to heat up a bit after a dreadful 9-for-56 (.161) start. Pence is 6-for-19 (.316) with three home runs and seven RBIs the past four games. He hit very well all last season, including a .343 average in May, and he stole 11 bases. That’s not an awfully high amount, but it shows his potential as a 20/20 guy in the outfield (he hit 17 long balls last season). It would be great if Astros manager Cecil Cooper could settle on a batting order position, since Pence has already logged 18-plus plate appearances at four spots (1, 2, 6 and 7). Pence bats in a great lineup and he seems to be the kind of player who will work his butt off to keep improving.

Smoltz’s production is really an unknown at this point. It’s been determined that he will go to the bullpen, but don’t assume he’ll step into the closer role. What if Rafael Soriano returns before Smoltz? What if Smoltz keeps struggling, even as the closer? I wouldn’t want to risk Brandon Phillips for the possibility that Smoltz will accrue enough saves to make him valuable to your team.

If you need saves, look elsewhere for help. Check out the Roundtable discussion on our fantasy homepage for some tips on setup men whom you can target for possible future saves.

Kyle Stack, MLB.com

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