Numerous sources are reporting that the Red Sox are in serious discussions to trade for Rockies’ firstbaseman Todd Helton.  Most versions have Helton headed to Fenway in exchange for Mike Lowell, Julian Tavarez, and a pair of prospects.  The prospects are still being wrangled over, but according to ESPN’s version, the Rockies are demanding toddhelton.jpgrelievers Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen, with the Red Sox holding out for a better deal in which they won’t give up as much.

My first reaction was that this would be a great deal for the Red Sox. Lowell and Tavares would not be missed much, and even if the Sox had to give up Hansen and Delcarmen, they would be giving up two pitchers who have yet to show much at the major league level, if they ever will, and they would be getting one of the best-hitting first baseman around.

Although Helton is due to earn $16.6 million this year and almost $90 million total for the remaining six years on his contract, the Red Sox have clearly demonstrated this offseason that money is no object for them, and besides, the Rockies are proposing to pick up nearly half of the remaining tab.

But then I had a look at Helton’s actual numbers in recent years, instead just going off his reputation.

Helton has clearly been in decline over the last several seasons.  From his best year in 2000 when he batted .372, smashed 42 homers, and OPS’d 1.161, he has fallen to .302, 15 homers, and an .880 OPS.  Now those certainly aren’t horrible numbers, but is that really that much better than what Mike Lowell would provide?

Plus there is always the issue of Coors Field.  While it is true that hitters have historically not had as big falloffs when they leave Coors as pitchers do when they come to Coors, like all Rockies players Helton’s home-road splits are ridiculous: last season he batted .338 and had a .445 OPB in Denver, compared to only .266 and .360 on the road. While it is true that Fenway is generally a hitter’s park, it is a much better hitter’s park for righthanded hitters, as opposed to lefties like Helton, and which split is Helton more likely to approximate at sea level? 

What is clear is that this would be a great trade for the Rockies.  Even if they had to pick up a significant share of Helton’s salary for the next six years, they would still be clearing tens of millions of dollars from their payroll.  Plus they would be picking up a small motorboat-load of useful players, without making their lineup significantly worse.  After all, Lowell’s numbers can be expected to increase at Coors.

5 Responses to “Trade Winds Swirl Around Todd Helton”

  1. Your headline has been picked up by NY Times’ Richard Sandomir in his follow up story on the Extra Innings mess. Your blog’s name is of course named along with your headline. I just sent you an email about it, and posted on my own blog about it. Since there’s zero chance you’d ever see my blog, I thought I’d let you know.

  2. mark wheeler says:

    Tell them all where to go. Buy a Slingbox.

  3. I hope you will all shake your tiny fists with me as I go into week two of my MLB boycott over this issue.

    it would be nice if we all banded together to stop this. It’s just a fantasy i guess, since MLB doesn’t give no shit. There seems to be too many who are jsut resigned to the deal, probably an effect of fans being screwed for so long (ticket prices, cable and dish deals, etc.)

    As for ideas of how to follow the Mets and still boycott MLB, I have none, but it won’t stop me.

  4. Wes Wilson says:

    The Red Sox aren’t thinking about getting Helton for his power. They already have Manny and Big Papi. They’re getting Helton for his OBP and defense. Plug him in at No. 2 in their lineup with Ramirez, Ortiz and Drew behind him and Helton will score a ton of runs. That kid’s always on base.

  5. Cookie Backelman says:

    This will be a very sad day IF this deal goes through. If baseball really wants to build its’ fan base this move seems counterintuitive as it prohibits 1/2 million of its’ MOST devoted fans (and their children…do I hear next generation) from having access to the sport they have been willing to seek out and pay extra for. As I recall, the advertising campaign USED to be based on families who were far from their “home teams” being able to share the joy no matter how far from home. I guess MLB doesn’t care about that group of fans anymore. Too bad, so sad !!!

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