Todd Helton is the soul of the Colorado Rockies. Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez may have stolen the spotlight, but make no mistake about it, those two combined do not carry the clout that Helton carries. He will be the first Rockie with his number retired, and, if he continues playing well, may be the first Rockie in Cooperstown.
So when the grizzly veteran speaks, everyone stops and listens.
On Wednesday afternoon on sports radio, Helton told Jim Rome that the Rockies could make the playoffs with the talent that they have on the current roster. But then, Helton made a comment that caused eyebrows to raise.
Helton, without hesitation, told Rome that if the Rockies want to do any damage in the playoffs, or if they want to win the World Series, that they will have to get starting pitching help. Whether that is through a trade or from the minors, it is going to take help for the Rockies to win the World Series, a clear goal of the team in spring training.
That may not sound like an off-the-wall statement, but consider what Helton is saying and it becomes a bigger issue. The first baseman is well-respected within the organization because when most veterans would have asked out, Helton stayed true to party lines when it came to rebuilding. He was patient and he waited for the tough years to go by in order to win. He is a company man.
This statement goes against party lines. He is essentially distancing himself from the Rockies front office and saying that they need to do something before the trade deadline if they want to get a ring.
It goes further than that too. It is well known that Helton and starting pitcher Aaron Cook are good friends. They hunt together in the offseason, and their families spend time together often. At RockiesFest in January, Cook pointed to Helton as his best friend on the team.
When Helton makes a statement like that, it tells Cook that he is not the answer in the Rockies rotation, and that a change needs to be made.
Maybe it is an almost-38-year old Helton seeing his chances at winning a ring get smaller and smaller and deciding that he doesn't care who he offends, or maybe, just maybe, it is Helton leading this team in the way that he knows how to. Maybe he is calling out his teammates and friends and giving them a swift kick to the backside to tell them it's time to get going, or it's time to make a change.
If there is a person who can deliver that message in the clubhouse it isn't Tulo, it's not Cargo, it's Helton. Maybe this was his chance to do something that he normally wouldn't do, use the media to fire up his team, and spur them into the next gear to prove to their leader that they are good enough as-is to win now. To prove that they don't need outside help and that they can do the job.
It will be interesting to see how the club reacts.