Todd Helton Is in High Spirits about Our Efforts to Get Rid of Him
by Mark T.R. Donohue
One of the things I've learned, since I started keeping all of my baseball writing in one place with my name on it, is not to take Todd Helton trade rumors too seriously. There have been deals targeting Todd for every franchise in the majors with more money than Colorado, which is nearly all of them, and yet somehow he continues to toil for the Rockies. This week's Helton discussions with the Red Sox might have been the closest call yet, or it might all have been just another weak lead set upon with terrifying fury by the terminally bored Colorado baseball press corps. Or maybe all that kept the Helton era (really the only period in Rockies history even semi-deserving of the term "era") steaming along was Boston's costly overfondness for Manny Delcarmen. I don't know, you don't know.
As we've sort of mumbled between our teeth more than once or twice in the past, a Helton trade would neither be catastrophic nor meaningless for the Rockies in 2007. Todd Helton hasn't really been good enough the past two seasons to make the claim that Colorado can't possibly fill his spot. He also is scheduled to make so much money that no matter what uniform he wears, the Rockies are going to be paying for a lot of it. This kind of reduces the impact any trade can make, but give Dan O'Dowd credit for realizing that. The only way the Rockies "win" a Helton trade is by getting back a prospect or two who completely exceeds expectations, and in negotations with the Angels and with Boston O'Dowd has shown some good sense. The Rockies haven't just dealt Helton for the sake of trading him alone, which is what we're really against. Helton's status as the greatest homegrown player in franchise history shouldn't be the only reason for keeping a player who isn't helping the team. I think he does still help the team, and with a little luck and health 2007 (at least) ought to be considerably better than the last two seasons. If Helton was to be traded, it's not a sure thing that the new combination of players and contracts would be better for the Rockies. If Todd's contract was that bad, there wouldn't be any teams out there with an interest still in acquiring him.
But at least there's this -- Helton is being a good sport about all of this. "I'm happy to be here...I gave them a chance to get out of it if they wanted, and it didn't happen. So it's time to go about business." He loves Colorado! He loves the Rockies! All he wants to do is win here! "It's something we need to change, and right now that's my focus. I'm not thinking about [the potential trade]. That's not something I had control of. That's no distraction. The only thing on my mind is playing first base and winning."
That's actually two things, Todd. But we love you too! Let's change the culture, and stuff!