Why it could be time to trade *gasp* Todd Helton

Can you feel the trade winds blowing east off the Rocky Mountains…blowing west off the Great Plains?  They are swirling, and the Rockies are said to be shopping RP Ray King and 1B Ryan Shealy.

With all due respect to the great Todd Helton and all the great things he’s done here in Colorado–a lifetime .335 hitter and great guy in the community–we have to throw out the idea of trading Todd Helton rather than Ryan Shealy. Why-oh-why would we even think this, seeing as we are the purveyors of all that is half-full? Well, it’s true that Helton brings verteran leadership to the ball club, but with his recent slump leaving his batting average at .279, his power numbers on a tremendous decline (He hit 20 last year, a far cry from his career high 49, and has 11 this year with 62 games to play), and his contract getting fatter with each passing year, it may be time for the Rockies to send him to a team where he can win a championship this year.

The Boston Red Sox would be the perfect fit. They need 1B help, and Helton would bring a great glove and a bat that could heat up in the Red Sox line-up. The Sox are in the play-off hunt, and it would seem they have deep enough pockets to pay his salary. Besides, Boston sent the Aves Ray Borque and then got to "share" the Stanley Cup. It seems to me, we owe them one.

But joking aside, most people would rather trade Shealy over Helton. If the Rox are going for a youth movement here in Colorado, let’s just go for it. Give Shealy a shot. Let him play every day. He’s certainly proven he’s capable of swinging the bat at the major league level. Last year in 36 games, Shealy hit .330 with 7 2B, 2 HR, 16 RBI and 13 BB. We would hate to see a talented young player like Shealy leave the system because he can’t play every day. Certainly, with the way Helton is slumping, Shealy deserves more playing time than he’s currently seeing.

The Rox have proven that they can play well without their leader. The Rox were 8-6 during Helton’s absence earier this season with a stomach illness. And should they move Helton, they would have money freed up that could go toward locking up good young talent in the system, such as Matt Holliday, Garrett Atkins, Jeff Francis, Jason Jennings, Aaron Cook and Brad Hawpe.


While we have not had the opportunity to watch every Rox game this year, there is one thing we have noticed in all the games we’ve seen, and we ask the baseball universe to correct us if we’re wrong, but it seems like Brad Hawpe utterly REFUSES to go head-first for any baseball on defense. In fact, in the Rockies 1-hitter versus Oakland, that one hit may have been caught had Hawpe gone head first, rather than feet first with that lame little slide-catch thing he inevitably tries.

Now, Hawpe’s got a cannon, and we are in no way insinuating that we dislike Hawpe as the Rox RF of the future. We revel in each baserunner that has the guts to test Hawpe’s howitzer as they are usually left dead-to-rights. But here at On The Rox, we look for an easy solution that will keep everyone positive. So, we’re suggesting that Brad Hawpe enroll himself in yoga classes, and diving lessons at the local swim pool. Seriously folks, the guy has about the same flexibility as a Ken doll. Watching him try to scale the wall is painful. Watching him chase flyballs only to slide and have them drop in front of him is equally gut-wrenching. We don’t expect him to be Spiderman–or one step up from that: Ichiro–but we do expect our rightfielder to dive for balls head-first. So, let’s see what we can do about yoga and diving lessons for Brad, that’ll limber him up and take away his fear of laying out.

Until then, we’re starting the Brad Hawpe Dive Watch. Now, as we mentioned, we haven’t seen every Rockies game, so if we’re wrong, we will stand corrected if someone can provide video or photographic evidence of a fabled "Brad Hawpe Head-First Dive." (Evidently, they’re rarer than unicorns.) However, until we’re proven wrong, we will continue to bring you the Brad Hawpe Dive Watch. As of today, Hawpe has played 239 career games without making a head first dive.


You heard it here at On The Rox, where our glass is always half-full.

Daniel Boniface is a freelance writer in Boulder, Colorado. Contact: dbonif@aol.com. You can subscribe to On The Rox at http://www.newsgator.com, or find it online at: rox.mlblogs.com.


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