Knows not where he's going to.
Isn't he a bit like you and me?"
So now this will be trying times for a guy writing about the Boston sports scene. With pitchers and catchers reporting on February 17, the Daytona 500 still two weeks away, and football season over, we are entering the proverbial "black hole" of sports right now. However, there have been some newsworthy events that have taken place. So, without further ado...
The hottest baseball rumor to surface over the past few days, besides Roger Clemens going to the Yankees, has been the recent speculation that the Sox and Rockies have been discussing a trade that would send Todd Helton to Boston, and again, the media has my attention. As soon as I saw this, my mind started dancing with all kinds of thoughts about the lineup, my heartrate immediately went up about 30 beats, and I started pacing around in my room...just pondering the potential of this deal. Apparently though, the Sox have stated that everything would have to be just right in order to pull this deal off. The words "just right" obviously have to do with the "prospects" they will have to be sending Colorado, in addition to third baseman Mike Lowell and relief pitcher Julian Tavarez. If it is required that the Sox send Manny Delcarmen and/or Craig Hansen, there's no way they will do this trade, at least in my opinion. The idea is that the Sox are continuing to try and make up for lost time in which the previous regime repeatedly sent their young players packing to another team for veterans, a strategy that almost never worked. So now, the Sox have a plethora of young arms, and they seemingly will not move them for anything. The thing about it is, at some point, you're going to have too many guys performing the same role, and you're going to have to think about moving some of these guys while their stock is still high. Me, personally, I would want to see both these young guys play for the Sox, but the thing is, what is going to make you better right now? The Sox can talk all they want to about building for the future, but here's the thing: When you have a payroll that is hovering around $140 million, you have to start winning right now. When you have the resources that the Sox have, they can re-build every year if they really wanted to. Also, another option the Sox want to pull is moving Matt Clement. My question is this: Why are the Sox being so demanding right now? It's almost like they don't want to make this trade. They have been quoted as saying that they are "happy with how the team is structured right now," but when you have the chance to get a guy who is a career .333 hitter (Ok, he played in Denver, which obviously pumped his stats up, but I mean come on, .333? That's batty.), you have to take advantage of it. If the Sox continue to try and push up their demands, the Rockies will likely sour, and the deal won't get done. Think about what they are asking for:
1.) The Rockies will send us one of the best players in franchise history (ok, so they've only been around for 14 years, but still, the guy's pretty good)
2.) Shipping out Mike Lowell, who is due almost $10 million next year, and Julian Tavarez, a guy who never fit into the Sox, and personally, I can't stand him. Don't ask me why. "We were like water and vinegar, we just didn't mix."
3.) The Rockies will be responsible to cover almost half of the remaining money due to Helton. He will earn $16.6 million a year for the next three years, and $19.1 million in 2011. Helton also has a $23 million option for 2012, which the Rockies can either pay, or they will have to execute a $4.6 million buyout. Without the option, that is $85.5 million owed to Helton in the next five years.
4.) The Sox refuse to give up Delcarmen and Hansen, meaning that the prospects that will be sent will not be up to the level that the Rockies would be expecting in trading their franchise player.
5.) If they are going to force the Rockies to take Matt Clement, you're talking about a guy who may not even pitch this year. Plus, he is in the last year of his contract, and is owed $9.5 million this year.
So, all that being said, are the Rockies that desperate to move Helton. That remains to be seen. From what I can gather, you're looking at kind of a "Manny Ramirez" situation, where you have a team that knows they will not be getting equal value for a trade, but want to move the player so bad that they will do almost anything to do just that. But what makes this different is the fact that the Rockies will be called on to cover a ton of Helton's mega contract, plus, they will be picking up anywhere from $15-$25 million more in contracts this year. So really, what sense does that make? My logic is that the Rockies are trying to re-build thorugh their younger players, and that basically, this year will be a wash if they pull this trade. They are already looking forward to 2008, meaning that they are willing to except bad contracts that end this year, which also means that they will have financial flexibility after this year. I mean that has to be the reason the Rockies are even involved in all of this. Again, here is my feeling. Sure, the Sox may think they have a good team right now, but when you talk about a guy like Todd Helton, you would be improving on the team they currently have right now. I am aware that Helton's numbers have been declining over the last few years. Actually, rather than talk about it, let me throw this out visually (stats provided by ESPN.com):
Still, take a look at the batting averages. This is a guy who fits the mold of the what the Sox look for. AVG, OBP (on base percentage), and OPS (on base plus slugging). A career OPS above 1? That's ungodly. Consider this: Right now, Boston's main offensive threat, David Ortiz, who in the last three years has hit over 40 homers and driven in at least 137 RBIs. Still, he has had an OPS of .983, 1.001, and 1.049. Now look at Helton, and again, he did play half his games at a hitter-friendly park, but five years in a row, his OPS was over 1. Five years. Now it could be conceived that I'm living in the past with all that, and that his numbers have been declining, but I'm basing this on potential. You're looking at having three lefty power hitter in a row. That is completely unheard of. Plus, you add another dimension of protection for Ortiz and Drew. The Sox are known for being a team that pounds the ball. There is no finesse involved, which is why guys like Coco Crisp do not fit in (10-15 HR and 30 SB a year). Plus, you are able to move Kevin Youkilis back to his natural position at third. With Helton playing at first, you get a legitament power threat that the Sox haven't had since Mo Vaughn. Also, Helton is no slouch in the field, with a career .996 fielding percentage, with only one season of double-digit errors. Again, all of these words may mean nothing. In the end, the Sox are going to have to back off on some of their demands. Any kind of trade involving both Delcarmen and Hansen should immediately be stomped out, because the value would almost be slanted towards Colorado, which you definitely don't want. However, the Sox will probably be required to give up one of them. In that case, you really have to sit down and kind of weigh your options. When you talk about getting Helton, you are getting him for a sizable discount. Plus, Helton is signed through 2011, meaning that you will have a pretty stable lineup for the next few years. In my opinion, Matt Clement will probably not end up going. I don't think that should concern the Sox too much, considering he is a free agent at the end of the year, so eating up one more year isn't that bad. I have always been a big Todd Helton guy, so hopefully, this deal gets done with minimal damage to the farm system.
In a recent ESPN.com poll, the question posed the following: "Who is more dominant in their respective sport, Roger Federer or Tiger Woods?" I got to thinking, and realized that if you break it down, and compare each of their accomplishments, Federer wins in a landslide. Tiger will go on to be one of, if the not the, greatest golfers to ever live. In addition to that, Tiger has won 10 majors, second only to Nicklaus' 18. However, when you talk about domination, no one can top Federer right now. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone in the history of sports who was as dominant as Federer is right now (Joe Louis maybe?). Not only does he win all the big tournaments, he steamrolls the competition. In winning the Australian Open, he now has 10 major titles. When Tiger goes out to play a major, you expect he will do very well, but realistically, you have to know that he can't win them all. That's the thing...Federer wins them all. He's simply a robot. The one he has trouble with is the French Open, which he has not won, and his best finish came last year, losing to Rafael Nadal in the finals. He's won three of the last four Aussie Opens, three U.S. Opens in a row, and four Wimbledon titles in a row. No one is running hotter than Federer right now.
Alright, I know that was reasonably short, but still, to get anything out of this week was good enough for me. I'll be coming with my mock draft pretty soon, so be on the lookout for that. Thanks for reading. Peace.