Coors Field will be a packed house tonight. The Rockies are taking to their home diamond for the final time in 2013 and, since it’s the final home game for the soon-to-be-retired Todd Helton, not everyone at the park will be wearing Red Sox garb. Applause for the Rockies (and especially for Helton) will be vociferous. But the Rockies are not a team worth applauding and, as James Merillat at Mile High Sports likes to point out, Helton’s long been the highest paid player on a team that has never won its own division.
Helton deserves to be honored. There’s no question about it. But the way that folks are carrying on you would think that he was a player who had, at some point in his career, helped the Rockies accomplish something beyond one wild streak to the World Series (which resulted in a sweep by Boston). Yes, he’s one of the great Denver athletes and he always will be. It is possible, though, if not likely, that the Rockies will be better off without Todd.
I will leave the numbers to the baseball nerd sites, but suffice it to say that Helton’s offense has hindered the team for years. He has been the best defensive first baseman in the game, but his is a position where most teams hide a big bat. It’s part of the reason that Helton’s defensive stats will not weigh heavily in his consideration for the Hall of Fame.
There’s something suspicious about the fact that Todd Helton has never demanded to be shipped out of Colorado. It’s a reason to wonder just how important winning is to him. Most pros eventually tire of being hitched to a crappy team and eventually ask to be moved somewhere where they can contend. Helton seemed plenty happy to stick around and keep cashing those Monfort checks. He, like the Monforts, settled on the status quo year after year.
The Rockies are nearing the end of a yet another 90-ish loss season and the excuses are already holstered. We have heard the Rox’ post-season script before so we know exactly what to expect … injuries, injuries, injuries.
The Rockies are not “close” to being a good team, though they will attempt to convince people that they are. Losing Helton will probably make them better, not worse. But it’s not going to make them good. And they won’t ever be good until radical changes are made to the corporate culture there.
Fans should cheer Helton tonight. But they should boo a club that has already decided to bring Walt Weiss back and to make no changes of substance to its ineffective leadership. The Rockies suck – and they think nobody cares. Tonight will only reinforce their thinking.