The Rockies should just cut Todd Helton. Ok, they're not going to do that, because when did they ever do anything radical, controversial and possibly appropriate? The answer to that is never so we all know the answer to whether they should cut Helton after his recent DUI arrest: a resounding ‘no’. But the Rockies should take a long look at parting ways with “Mr. Rockies,” because he’s done more than damage his reputation. He’s ruined a long term and specific plan by management to keep you hooked on their terrible team for life.
The Rockies had a grand plan for Helton: to be the team's ambassador long after he retired. He'd remind fans of the supposed good ol' days and keep their attention off of the bad ol' now. Helton is certainly the greatest Rockie so far in the team's 20 year history and it's no wonder they kept him around this long. He's been a gold mine for a club that's made dozens of bad decisions and is lucky to get the attendance it does. And despite his financial drain on the team, I’ve always felt it was necessary to keep him around for the same reasons the team did. But did Helton blow the Monforts grand plan when he blew into that breathalyzer?
Helton has been nursing the end of his last huge contract and that has been just fine with most Rockies fans. A few (very few) members of the media have pointed out that Helton has been basically stealing money from the team over the last few years. Helton is still good defensively, but his bat is nowhere near what it once was. But as his mere presence on the field is magic at the box office, his ever declining skills, lack of production, and massive salary that he still draws has become the purple elephant in the room. If the Rockies did cut Helton, they would still owe him the remaining money on his contract, so the argument that they could do something with the money they saved doesn’t hold water. That’s assuming they could do something smart with it. But since they’re on the hook for the cash whether he plays or not, it's still a financial drain on the team to pay a guy who's role is disappearing faster than the roast beef up on the Club Level.
The Rockies plan for Helton was to install a Rockie for life that fans could look to as a shining example for the ages. No matter how bad it gets for the Rockies, management would urge everyone to look to Helton, whether playing or not as a reminder of the good times (?) and not worry about the crappy product on the field. A further “ignore the man behind the curtain” moment that the Rockies have stuck to for many years. Rarely these days do teams have someone they can point to as an example of a lifer: The Florida Marlins may have won two World Series, but they don’t have a player who embodies the team like Helton does with the Rockies. But now that Helton soiled his good name with his drunk-driving escapades, do the Rockies part ways with him because he's thrown a wrench in those long term plans?
The plan took a hit when Helton went drunk truck washing/lottery ticket buying the other night. The Rockies will be terrible yet again this year, and if this is truly a good bye tour for Helton, are people going to forget his sloppy lapse in judgment while they know he's draining the team dry financially? Of course they will. If we learned one thing from the #Roadto100 last year, it’s that people will fill those seats watching a terrible team regardless if their hero screwed up and gave the team a black eye in the form of a horrendous mug shot. The Rockies will keep Helton in their plans even though it will leave a bad taste in everyone's mouth. And the only thing that will wash it out is more roast beef from the carving station on the Club Level. See you at the ballpark.