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Note to Rockies: Is Helton free?

 

Laura Vecsey

 

IT'S BEEN more than a year since the Orioles identified first base as a prime location for a serious talent upgrade. The platoon of Jay Gibbons and Rafael Palmeiro so far this season has done little to extinguish that desire.

 

Needed: More offense. Better defense.

 

So with 13 games gone, we look back and remember the parade of candidates who the Orioles had hoped would take the job, and the money, to play first base at Camden Yards:

 

Derrek Lee. Richie Sexson. Carlos Delgado. Troy Glaus, had he been willing to move from third to first.

 

Great interviews, serious negotiations, stout offers. Nothing.

 

Yet.

 

As aggressive at the plate and on the bases as the team has been so far this season, the Orioles ought to continue that mode in one other significant category.

 

We're talking phone lines, as in: calling Colorado.

 

The Orioles say they are willing and eager to take the super-talented Todd Helton, complete with monstrous contract, off the hands of the Rockies - if and when the Rockies raise the white flag.

 

That could be any day now. Or at least by June. The Orioles could sure use the 31-year-old first baseman against all the National League teams during that first stretch of interleague play.

 

The sooner, the better for this serious upgrade, especially after seeing how the Yankees took their frustrations out on the Devil Rays last night, pummeling Tampa Bay after suffering a sweep in Baltimore.

 

The way Yankees boss George Steinbrenner is steaming, the Orioles might find the Yankees in the Helton sweepstakes, too. Just because they've got Jason Giambi (at $120 million) and Tino Martinez doesn't mean the Bombers won't be lurking if and when Helton hits the market. Surely, Steinbrenner will let us know, via press release, his intentions in this area.

 

Meanwhile, the Orioles have run the numbers and figure that Helton's presence would swing a significant number of games from the loss to the win column. The Orioles call Helton one of the three best first basemen ever. He is wanted here.

 

The question is whether the Rockies can take the heat from their fans and do the right thing for the long-term benefit of that foundering franchise. Sometimes love means never having to say you're sorry. The Rockies' front office ought to try that on their already disenchanted fan base.

 

The Rockies (2-10 after last night's loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks) are nothing more than Todd and the Toddlers, with no other star player to speak of. Already, the Mile High team has sunk to the depths of the standings.

 

Helton might be a franchise player who thought his nine-year extension would keep him in Denver until 2011, but a quality player like him can't possibly bear this new fate. No one to drive him in. No one to pitch.

 

Another point in the Orioles' favor is that there's little way the Rockies can justify paying Helton an average of $15.7 million a year, not when they're at ground zero in terms of talent, or the lack of it. The Rockies need to strip naked and rebuild with prospects stockpiled from helpful trade mates.

 

Enter the Orioles, with offer No. 1 for Helton:

 

Gibbons, outfielder Nick Markakis, starting pitcher Hayden Penn and lefty reliever John Parrish.

 

The Orioles would make that deal in a heartbeat. They might even throw in Sidney Ponson, with cash.

 

Ponson's troubles have done nothing to inspire confidence in him. His solid opener in New York was followed by a shellacking in Tampa Bay, leaving the club with little hope that Ponson will ever overcome his personality and penchant for trouble.

 

He's needed to eat up innings, at very least, but his 70-81 career record and continued inconsistency could be as much a liability as an asset. If the Rockies want him, the Orioles might oblige.

 

Is it too early to make that call on Ponson or the situation at first base, should Helton become available?

 

It's never too early, not after the Orioles made a dent against the Yankees this infant season. With some rousing early victories, the wheels have started to turn. Maybe, just maybe, the Orioles are ready to step up and swing with the big boys in the American League East.

 

Certainly, the Orioles are in a position to make this deal. Money is left from deals turned down. Money is freed up after Peter Angelos' settlement with Major League Baseball on TV rights.

 

Living proof of the Orioles' seriousness about upgrading the club and contending, soon, could come in the form of Helton. It would be a gigantic step in the right direction, turning one of the best lineups in the American League into possibly the best.

 

Now, it's about backup catcher, left field and No. 1 and No. 2 starting pitchers. ...

 

Maybe Helton has a slider.

 

Copyright ? 2005, The Baltimore Sun

 

http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/bal-sp....orts-columnists

 

If the O's are willing to give up Markakis and Penn, this deal will get done, but I don't understand how one team can give up their two best prospects (and Markakis is one of the best athletes in all of baseball, he could be a pitcher instead of an outfielder if he wanted to) for a position player when there's such a need for starting pitching.

 

Interesting rumor, and you have to believe that Colorado will at least look into trading Helton after this horrific start.

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Guest Fritz

My...god...

 

Roberts

Mora

Tejada

Sammy

Helton

Palmeiro

Lopez

Matos

 

What...a...lineup

747737[/snapback]

 

*Masturbates and dies*

 

That's just absurd.

 

:o

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Why would the Rockies want Markakis? He's Admin Bigbie lite.

747774[/snapback]

 

Because he's an absolutely sick athlete who played outfield for the Greek Olympic team, and when injuries struck, he became a reliever who topped 95 MPH...there's huge upside in that guy.

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You won't win many converts with the athleticism angle.

 

He's projected to be a corner outfielder with a middling batting average, modest pop and speed (15-15) and no patience at the plate. Any organization should be able to develop such a player.

747879[/snapback]

 

First of all, he was drafted 7 overall in 2003, so someone had to see something in him, and here's this tidbit from baseball america (which rates him as the O's #1 prospect):

 

While his arm strength is undeniable, Markakis' hands and athletic body give him a higher ceiling as an outfielder. Never a full-time hitter before 2004, he made the adjustments that could make him an ideal No. 3 hitter. As one scout said, "He gets better every second." The speed and strength in his hands make him a pure hitter, and the natural snap in his bat gives him good power that should increase as he matures. Markakis established a solid foundation for his swing by getting his lower half more stable as the year went on, giving him better torque on his swing. He already shows good control of the strike zone. He's athletic, with a strong, sinewy body that earns him comparisons to Shawn Green and Johnny Damon. His athleticism allows him to play center field in a pinch, but his speed and arm make him perfectly suited for right field.

 

http://www.baseballamerica.com/online/feat...0s/orioles.html

 

Sure doesn't sound like the kind of player "any organization" can develop...

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You're right. His regression in the O's farm system has made him into a projected average outfielder.

747945[/snapback]

 

Where do you see these projections other than in your own opinion? Show me one website that says that this guy will be a career journeyman and I'll agree with you, but until then, I'll take Baseball-America's opinion...

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Helton outside Coors field is just little more than an average player...

 

Coors Field Stats:

At bats: 2097

RUNs: 529

RBIs: 517

HRs: 156

Avg: .375

 

Away/other stadiums:

At bats: 2001

RUNs: 309

RBIs: 324

HRs: 96

Avg: .299

 

So, if he gets traded with the same contract to any other team...the teams are overpaying him....

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Helton outside Coors field is just little more than an average player...

 

Coors Field Stats:

At bats: 2097

RUNs: 529

RBIs: 517

HRs: 156

Avg: .375

 

Away/other stadiums:

At bats: 2001

RUNs: 309

RBIs: 324

HRs: 96

Avg: .299

 

So, if he gets traded with the same contract to any other team...the teams are overpaying him....

747998[/snapback]

playing in Coors field f*cks with a hitter's road numbers...you notice how every time a team plays a series in Coors field, they can't hit for sh*t in the next series?

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Guest Moneyball

It's about time Todd Helton trade rumors started popping up. That poor guy is stuck playing for the worst franchise in MLB for the rest of his career.

 

I'd like to see him go to Los Angeles, though.

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You're right. His regression in the O's farm system has made him into a projected average outfielder.

747945[/snapback]

 

Where do you see these projections other than in your own opinion? Show me one website that says that this guy will be a career journeyman and I'll agree with you, but until then, I'll take Baseball-America's opinion...

747967[/snapback]

John Sickels (Minorleagueball.com), who paints his upside as Steve Finley and Brady Anderson, and local reports in the media. Track down the DC Post stories from spring training. There was one interesting quote that suggested that Val Majewski (their other top prospect) is viewed as a better centerfielder. He's a lefthanded Chris Aguila. Not a bad thing at all. But you could do much better. You could find many a corner outfielders capable of putting up a line of .270 avg .350 obp and 15 homers.

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Helton outside Coors field is just little more than an average player...

 

Coors Field Stats:

At bats: 2097

RUNs: 529

RBIs: 517

HRs: 156

Avg: .375

 

Away/other stadiums:

At bats: 2001

RUNs: 309

RBIs: 324

HRs: 96

Avg: .299

 

So, if he gets traded with the same contract to any other team...the teams are overpaying him....

747998[/snapback]

 

Nearly half of those road games are in NL West parks, none of which are great for hitting, and if you look at Helton's career splits, his numbers in the NL West parks, apart from Bank One, are significantly worse than his overall road numbers.

 

Career road OPS all parks included: .922

Dodger Stadium: .815

PacBell: .831

Bank One: .927

Qualcomm: .802

 

Now I don't have the patience to account for NL West parks that have been shut down since his earlier playing days, but that accounts for 704 of his 2001 road ABs. Those parks give him an OPS of about .845, so you have to figure the other parks he's shooting about .960. He should do that, or better, in the AL, in which case, I don't think anyone would complain.

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Well, for right now, this looks like a moot point:

 

Helton isn't about to ask for a trade

 

First baseman is encouraged by youngsters

 

By Troy E. Renck

Denver Post Staff Writer

 

Philadelphia - When the Rockies committed to a full-blown youth movement in September, Todd Helton's future became a chilling subject.

 

Helton can't stand losing, leaving many to wonder if he could stomach rebuilding. For the Rockies to consider trading Helton, however, he would have to ask out, a frustration level he hasn't approached.

 

"If it gets to that point, you'll be the first to know," Helton said Wednesday.

 

Actually, general manager Dan O'Dowd expects to receive the initial call. O'Dowd said he talks with Helton about a variety of subjects, though he declined to say whether he discussed the Baltimore Orioles' interest in the all-star first baseman.

 

"If Todd ever gets (upset) and wants to talk about (trades), I believe we have a good enough relationship that he would talk to me about it first," O'Dowd said.

 

The reality of dealing Helton requires peeling away multiple layers. He would have to waive his complete no-trade clause, the owners would have to sign off on any deal - there are strong indications they wouldn't - and there would have to be a suitor willing to absorb the bulk of the $119 million remaining on his contract.

 

Manager Clint Hurdle said he doesn't devote any energy to trade speculation, calling "everything rumors and innuendo until Dan sits down and has a conversation with Todd."

 

While disappointed with his own performance, Helton remains encouraged by the Rockies' kids, talking glowingly about the likes of Clint Barmes, Jeff Francis and Chin-Hui Tsao.

 

"I think Todd knows if we can get our bullpen straightened out, we can be competitive," O'Dowd said.

 

 

http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,3...2827600,00.html

 

Time to put this on the back burner until June, when the O's and Rocks have a better idea of where they're headed...

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Time to put this on the back burner until June, when the O's and Rocks have a better idea of where they're headed...

750108[/snapback]

Exactly. This is a tune we've heard before. Early on it's "Nope, dont want to be traded". Then he has a bad game where they lose by 15 in May and he says something like "It's frustrating", which everyone assumes to mean he doesnt want to be in Colorado anymore and by trade deadline time, he's mentioned more often than RJ was last trade deadline with the Yanks.

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