Having won 3 of 4 against the Padres, the Rockies seem to have settled all questions about whether they stand as buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. They're neither. Ray King seems to have pitched his way out of Clint Hurdle's doghouse. Unless you count the sale of Miguel Ojeda to the Rangers, Colorado isn't going to do anything this year. And that's fine. The team is on the rise (keep repeating that until you believe it), there's no one obviously on their way out like Preston Wilson and Shawn Chacon were last year, and the team will be in a good position to bring back every one of this season's contributors for next year. They may even be able to add a guy or two. Watch out, third-class free agent centerfielders and starters.
So does winning a series at home against the first-place Padres mean that the Rockies are division contenders again? No. Granted, the Dodgers are behind Colorado in the standings at the moment and seem to be operating as if they're going to gear up for a run this year, but the only reason for this seems to be that Bill Plaschke called Ned Colletti a chicken. That's always a good reason to mortgage your future. It's true that the Rockies, like every other team in the NL West, are just one winning streak away from seizing control of the division. The Denver Post argues that with the starting pitching the Rockies have, they ought to be good candidates for such a streak. Their starters are good. But their offense isn't, the defense has been shaky lately, and the bullpen still hasn't found its true level between playing above its head and below the water line. If they were going to go on a winning run, I think they would have done it by now. But maybe I'm wrong.
Did I say the Rockies would make no trades at all? That's not entirely true. Ryan Shealy will go somewhere. But the most exciting name I've read in connection with Shealy is oft-pounded Kansas City lefthander Jeremy Affeldt. Hard to get too amped up about that deal. The other teams listed in the Shealy section of ESPN's Rumor Central are Pittsburgh, Baltimore, the Yankees, San Francisco, and Toronto. In short, five of the most talent-deficient systems in the minors. Isn't that always the way.
I watched "Under the Lights: Todd Helton" last night. Not a lot of arc to that story. He gets drafted out of high school and doesn't sign, he plays football and he's OK, he almost hits .400 but he doesn't. There's no third act. The Rockies really need to make the playoffs one of these days so that a future television biography program on Helton won't be duller than the Huey Lewis "Behind the Music." I love Helton because he's one of the few true superstars in the game who honestly doesn't like to talk about himself. He likes hittin', huntin', and his baby girl. He has some amusing superstitions. Everybody likes him, but no one really has any great stories to share since basically nothing has happened in his career. The Fox Sports people tried to create some drama with the Wayne Hagin controversy and Helton's recent bout of ileitis, but, well, there's still no story there. Hagin was a self-serving muckraker and there was absolutely zero evidence supporting his claims about Helton's steroid use. Helton came back from the ileitis and it's not like it made him a better man or a better player or anything. He was already pretty good on both counts. Why is it that being decent and quiet makes for such bad TV? Why is Terrell Owens more famous than Todd Helton? These are major questions. Not that I'm saying Helton should start spitting on umpires or anything. But maybe he could take a cue from Darren Daulton and start discussing his out-of-body experiences during hitting streaks. At the very least he could play up the one thing about him that's at all colorful, his ridiculous superstitions. Did you know he sometimes changes shoes three or four times a game? One time he and Clint Hurdle visited the restroom together right before an at-bat where Todd got a hit. The next time he was due to be up, he made Clint go back to the bathroom with him. Sometimes he shaves off his beard in the middle of games. In a slump he'll try the bats of everyone else on the team. I think he should start a website where he details every bizarre thing he does for good luck in excruciating detail. Never mind the fact that he also studies film and prepares for games more than practically any other player of his stature.
The ESPN servers are going all wonky today due to the high number of people checking in on the trade deadline. What do I think about the big deals so far? Well, I'm not sure Sean Casey is that much better or indeed not a lot worse than Chris Shelton. Bobby Abreu will be very good for the Yankees, but his main role will be deflecting ignorant "non-clutch" criticism away from A-Rod. The Phillies did a good job making the Yanks take Cory Lidle's salary off of their hands. The number of average to very-slightly-below-average starters the Yankees are paying five to seven million dollars a year to is getting seriously out of control. They're going to hit a money wall eventually. Right? Right? Right?