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What the Hel(ton)?

First of all:

HT: to argo0 Linky.

argo0 broke the story for us in the diaries. Thanks for doing so. I was AFK all day. Make sure to thank him and send him any extra tickets you scored today in the mail. I'm sure he'd be more than willing to give away his address for something like that (and I'll make sure spammers are kept to a minimum).

Ken Rosenthal.

MLB Trade Rumors.

Commenter(and Braves fan) ejruiz:

BOS gets CL Brian Fuentes, 1B Todd Helton and Cash
COL gets SP Matt Clement, 3B Mike Lowell, RP Delcarmen/Hansen and CF Jacoby Ellsbury

What Purple Row has to say.

Via Purple Row and argo0, the Denver Post.

Me, finally.

There's a lot of names bandied about. I could possibly see the Sox going for it if the name Ellsbury in ejruiz's trade is for some reason a misspelling of Coco Crisp.

I've seen all kinds of permutations of this deal. In summary, they are:

  • Todd Helton (with no one else but a boatload of cash) for something along the lines of Clement, Lowell, Delcarmen.
  • Todd Helton (with no boatload of cash) for 6 cans of silly string.
  • Todd Helton, Fuentes, cash for Lowell, Clement, Delcarmen/Hansen, Ellsbury/Crisp.
  • Todd Helton (with no one else but a smaller boatload of cash) for Lowell, Tavarez, Clement.
To be honest, I'm not sure I want the guy at all. I think Todd Helton is a professional, a gamer, all those things you hear about guys like Erstad and Eckstein. Difference is, Helton has some actual consistent talent. The problem is, does Helton have enough talent? There's also the injury question to consider. The guy has back problems (Old article? Yes. It's meant to show a history of problems). Some believe that these have sapped him of the power he used to have. Others think it has to do with humidors or things akin to HGH. I personally don't believe the latter, just don't think he's the kind of guy to do that.

Split the Difference.

Okay. I'm officially the punniest man alive. Helton's career.

His career numbers show a home/road split, though not severe enough to make him appear to have no value. A .900 OPS(road) is nothing to sneeze at in either league. How about year-by-year?

2006 splits. .781 (road)
2005 splits. .871 (road)
2004 splits. .990 (road)

To me, this shows a player who is trending down, and has been for a couple years. Some would point to his back issues. That's a reason, yes, but not a particularly good one. A 33 year old baseball player with back problems is unlikely to see them go away in the near future.

Something something.

What would we be likely to get in Helton? Well, let's say we deal for him and the Rockies pick up half the money (not a guaranteed possibility). $8.3M/yr through 2010 and $9.55M/yr in 2011. Initially, this isn't too bad. He will be 38 at the end of the contract. Let's say he rebounds slightly, and we see an OPS of .850 til at least 2010. We have to keep in mind that this will probably be mostly OBP based, where he's .430 over his career. Let's take that down to about .390(arbitrary) and figure he'll slug about .460. Meh.

What's the good? Well, our lineup would feature (Papi, Manny, Helt-dawg, Drew, Youks) five guys who would probably get on base at, near, or above 40% of the time. This would be exciting. Even declining a bit, Helton's offense will probably be again, at, near, or (probably)above what Lowell provided.

The contract's an albatross! He might be blocking someone by the middle of his term in Boston!

Quiet down, because here you're right. Lars Anderson should be a beast in a few years. Let's keep in mind that he hasn't had an AB beyond HS. Still, he's the fifth-best prospect in our system according to BA. I have to imagine that he's at least three years away, even given his potential. Let's factor in a year of growing pains in either high-A or AA, and he might not be ready until 2010. Still two years to go on the Helton contract.

There's another player (possibly) involved?

Brian Fuentes.

I'm going to go ahead and get my bias out of the way, I like Brian Fuentes. Anyone who can put in two years as a successful closer in Colorado is okay in my book. He's also been consistently successful as far as home-road goes. The bad? He's older than you might think (32 in August). This isn't altogether a negative: I think he's probably still got a successful season or two (or three, or more) ahead of him. And by then, one of E-Mart, Hansen, or Bryce Cox should be ready to take over long-term. I don't really see a lot of negative here. You could make the tougher league argument, but pitching half your games in Colorado is tough enough as it is.

2007.

Most of the arguments I've been debating with myself here have a lot to do with the long-term. What happens in the short-term? Would this make the Sox bone-fide favorites in the AL next season? If Fuentes is included (this is certainly not a given), this would fill the biggest hole the Sox have, while pushing everyone else one down on the depth chart (this means you, Joel Pineiro). I have to imagine the lineup would look something like this:

  • Lugo (SS)
  • Drew (RF)
  • Papi (DH)
  • Manny (LF)
  • Helton (1B)
  • Pena (CF) (This is what the masses want, if Coco goes, but I still think Pena's relative success in CF may be a fluke)
  • 'Tek (C)
  • Youks (3B)
  • Pedroia (2B)
This is nice-looking lineup. Beyond Lugo and possibly Drew (though I have to imagine his SB attempts will be kept to a minimum with his frail body), it's pretty lacking in anything resembling speed. I am excited, as others, at the probability that this would mean regular ABs for Pena's development. You'll probably disagree with me on the order a bit, as always, feel free to submit your own hypothetical in the comments based on this new "development".

Starting pitching is unchanged. Bullpen looks better, with an actual closer at the end.

Decision Time.

I'm not going to make one. The rumors are still a bit too varied to think there's any real steam. The onus is on the Rockies to make the best offer: Helton makes us better next season, but I'm comfortable with Youks/Hinske/Lowell at the corners, and none of those three represent roster inflexibility.