Yankees Rumors & News
This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 30th, 2007 at 12:06 am and is filed under Baseball, Yankees Rumors & News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Over the weekend, some trade buzz started that could significantly impact the Yankees in 2007. Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com reported that the Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies had been discussing a trade that would send first baseman Todd Helton to the Red Sox in exchange for pitcher Craig Hansen, centerfield prospect Jacoby Ellsbury, and an additional prospect. Since Rosenthal’s story broke, the rumor has been substantiated by Rockies CEO Charlie Monfort, who confirmed on Saturday that the team was exploring the swap.

While the 33-year-old Helton has been the face of the Rockies franchise for nearly a decade, the team may have miscalculated in 2001 when it signed the then-27-year-old to a nine-year extension with two years remaining on his prior contract, bringing the total value of the agreement to 151.5 million over 11 years. The Rockies now find themselves on the hook for $90.1 million through 2011 for a player whose production has taken a meteoric plunge. In the year Helton signed the extension, he slugged 49 homers along with 146 RBIs, one year after hitting 42 homers and driving in 147. But Helton hasn’t finished with 100 or more RBIs since the 2003 season, and in 2006 had just 81 RBIs and 15 home runs, despite playing in notoriously hitter-friendly Coors Field. Not surprisingly, Helton’s name has been linked to steroids due to his drop in production. Rockies broadcaster Wayne Hagin once inferred on the air that Helton was using “the juice,” before later apologizing and claiming he was not referring to steroids when he used the word “juice.” Helton considered taking legal action at the time.

The Boston Globe reports that the Sox would also look to move Mike Lowell and the remaining one-year, $9 million left on his contract as part of the agreement. If Colorado were to refuse, the Sox could move Lowell to the Padres in exchange for reliever Scott Linebrink in conjunction with the Helton acquisition. Current first baseman Kevin Youkilis would move across the diamond to take over at third.

Andrew Marchand of the Post seems to think that if the deal goes through, it could represent a “frightening development” for the Yanks, who could potentially be facing a top of the order comprised of new additions Julio Lugo and J.D. Drew, followed by David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, and Todd Helton. Another option could see the Sox bat Coco Crisp in the 2-hole (his spot in Cleveland), and stack both Drew and Helton behind Manny.

While Marchand isn’t wrong – especially in the short term – the majority of fans in Boston are having quite a different reaction to the news. Boston Dirt Dogs.com sums it up nicely: “What the Helton is going on here? Why go after a $90M mountain hitter on a steep decline?” Luke Halpert over on MetsBlog likewise doesn’t understand why the Red Sox would make this trade. Says Halpert, “Helton is on the downside of his career and the club will be stuck with him for another six seasons. Not to mention the talent they are giving up could be used to get a closer such as Chad Cordero.”

Frankly, the move stinks of the same sort of narrow-minded, short-sighted maneuvering that has gotten the Yankees in trouble since their last World Championship in 2000. Though it has already been an unusually expensive offseason for Boston, it’s nearly impossible to believe that the fiscally-conscious Sox would agree to the swap unless Colorado pays a significant portion of Helton’s salary. According to the Boston Herald, the Rockies may be willing to pick up as much as half of the contract.

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