What if Todd Helton Gets Hurt?
What a depressing thought the day after Christmas, right? Yes it is. Seeing Todd Helton gingerly jog out to his post at first base signals the start of baseball season for Colorado fans. It is comforting. It is familiar. He was there during the grim days and he was there for the glory days. Hopefully the next glory days are soon enough that he will still be there.
Over the course of the last few seasons that sight comes with a catch. With the Toddfather it is now a particular brand of cautious optimism. Will his back hold up? How many days off will he need? If he does miss time with an injury, what kind of player will he be upon his return?
We know he will likely be down for a week or two at one point or another. What if he is down longer than that? What do the Rockies do then?
As unhappy as it is to consider that scenario, its unfortunate likelihood might be the best argument for the addition of outfielder Cody Ross. Nothing is imminent, but ESPN’s Buster Olney reports today that the Rockies are in contract talks with him.
If everybody stays healthy all season for the Rockies, Ross does not fit. The outfield is occupied by Dexter Fowler, Carlos Gonzalez, and Michael Cuddyer. All three of them are everyday players. To my eyes Ross would make a great 4th outfielder and bat off the bench, but he clearly does not see himself that way since he was previously seeking a 3 year contract. So how might he fit on the Rockies?
Think ahead to the scenario that we all dread. You watch the Rockies on a humdrum summer evening on Root Sports. Todd Helton whacks his patented line drive to the left-center field gap and looks like he has just added another double to his career statistics. As he should be rounding first, play-by-play man Drew Goodman says: “Oh no, Helton pulled up lame at first base. Rockies fans hate to see that.”
When If that happens, the Rockies need a first baseman for an extended period of time. Cue Michael Cuddyer? We know by now that Jason Giambi is not built for that kind of work at his age. If Cuddyer slides into that spot, a stable presence like Cody Ross in that temporarily vacated outfield spot fits, especially if the Rockies are hanging around in the standings.
Is insurance for that scenario worth signing Ross? To the Rockies it surely is, especially since Ross would be a great bench player and because it clears the way to trade Seth Smith for more pitching. Does that make it worth it for Ross? The next couple days should tell.