Tag:Todd Helton
Posted on: May 21, 2011 11:00 am

Helton felled by back issues, could return Monday

By Evan Brunell

HeltonTodd Helton will likely not play in the weekend series, due to a sore back caused by a slide into second base on Wednesday.

Helton, despite his success at the plate as of late, is still a 37-year-old with a bad back and a history of missing games. That'll cause Colorado to take it slow in Helton's return. Currently, swinging a bat isn't a problem but sleeping and running are.

"It stinks when you get old and don't know if something you are going to do is going to hurt your back," Helton told the Denver Post.

"Saturday is the key. I need to see how it feels when I swing. The one thing different from last time is that it hurts a little bit when I rotate. And before I play, I definitely need to be able to run."

The one piece of good news is that Helton won't undergo a MRI as the injury doesn't appear related to the back issue that felled Helton last season.

"He's much stronger than he was a year ago," head trainer Keith Dugger said. "And he has no pain radiating down his legs."

Helton compared his injury to one suffered in early April that caused him to sit out four games. He's already missed Thursday and Friday's games, so could be back as early as Monday.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: May 20, 2011 1:39 am
Edited on: May 20, 2011 1:43 am

Injuries abound on Thursday

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Carlos GonzalezPlenty of injury news from Thursday night, here's a quick rundown:

• The Phillies are expected to put both Joe Blanton and Shane Victorino on the disabled list on Friday. Blanton was scratched from his start with elbow soreness. Victorino has been struggling with a hamstring injury since Saturday. He didn't play against until Wednesday when he was used as a pinch-hitter.

• In that same game, the Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez left with tightness in his left groin, but manager Jim Tracy said it wasn't serious and Gonzalez could be ready to play Friday in Milwaukee.

• The Rockies' Todd Helton sat out Thursday's game with a sore lower back, but his replacement, Jason Giambi, hit three homers and drove in seven. 

Red Sox starter Josh Beckett left after six innings with stiffness in his neck. Beckett downplayed it later, but he wanted to be cautious because the team already has starters John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka on the disabled list. He is scheduled to start again Tuesday in Cleveland.

Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun left the team's game against the Padres after a fifth-inning popup with left shoulder soreness. He told reporters after the game that he didn't think it was serious, but didn't know if he'd be available for Friday's game.

• As for the Cardinals outfield -- Colby Rasmus was back in the lineup Thursday and Matt Holliday (quad) told reporters he thought he should be available for Friday, even if it's just to DH. However, Lance Berkman (wrist) will not be available, but shouldn't need a trip to the disabled list.

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Posted on: May 19, 2011 11:28 pm
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Posted on: May 14, 2011 1:16 pm

Revitalized Todd Helton enjoying power surge


By Evan Brunell

Todd Helton is far from the Helton of old, but is proving to be a nice revelation for the Rockies this season. The lifelong Rockie has been debilitated by injuries for so long that his days as one of the game's elite power-hitters is a distant memory, but he's still a capable addition to Colorado's lineup.

Now 37, Helton is hitting .308/.367/.509 on the season with four home runs, flashing power not seen since 2005. Interestingly, he's currently pacing to post a career-worst walk rate of 6.7 percent, but the Rockies will gladly exchange the .400-plus OBP for a few more longballs, especially as the team is currently struggling to win games and put runs on the board. Helton's mitigating his low walk rate by striking out much less than he has over the course of his career. After last season's career-high mark of 22.6 percent, he's all the way down to 10.9 percent, behind only his first full season way back in 1998, when he struck out just 10.2 percent of the time.

Helton left Friday's game with left-calf tightness after doubling in the sixth for his ninth on the year, but it's not considered to be serious. That's a good thing, as Jason Giambi can't sustain a starting job any longer and the team needs Ty Wigginton at third base. Helton's even holding his own against left-handed pitchers despite a disparate platoon split.

Helton may once have been considered a potential 500-home run hitter, especially as Coors aided his way toward 221 blasts in six seasons for 40 percent of his career total despite playing into his 15th season. That's what bad back problems will do to you, as the most games he's played in over the past three years are 2009's 151, with 2008 checking in at 83 and 2010 at 118. This year, he's pacing 144.

Helton originally signed a nine-year, $191.5 million deal with an option back in 2003 but ripped up the final guaranteed year of his deal -- this season -- in spring training of last season, converting his $4.6 million buyout for 2012 into a signing bonus while reducing his 2011 payout from $19.1 million to $6 million, with $13.1 million deferred. He also extended his deal an additional two years, getting paid $4.9 million in 2012 and $5 million in 2013. That saved the Rockies a ton of financial flexibility to field a winning club both this season and next year, but had minimal impact on the recent long-term extensions for Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki.

At this stage in his career, Helton's value is mostly tied up in batting average with a career line of .324 and a discerning eye. That eye's gone by the wayside and his above-average power has ticked up, but it's too early to say whether this is an aberration or a new way of approaching things. Either way, his production so far this year has been a large reason why the team is still hanging onto first place, tied with San Francisco.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: May 5, 2011 10:30 am
Edited on: May 5, 2011 1:20 pm

Pepper: Doc the finisher

By Matt Snyder

FINISH HIM: Roy Halladay is an old-school pitcher in more ways than one, but we'll just concentrate on the complete games for today. He toes the slab each day expecting to finish the job he started. And he does it with rare frequency in this day and age of obsessive pitch counts and situational relievers. As I noted on Baseball Today -- which you should have already viewed above -- Halladay is such a complete game machine that he has more since 2003 than all but six major-league teams. Of course, the Blue Jays lead the majors in that span due to the 44 Halladay provided them (of 77 total) and the Phillies 56 in that span, just one more than Halladay -- who has provided the Phillies with 11 thus far. He's great in so many ways, but Halladay's ability to complete games unlike any other single pitcher this generation is what truly sets him apart. (MLB.com )

NAME THAT TEAM: The Reds have a new Double-A affiliate coming to Pensacola, Florida. The team name is being chosen through a voting process with the fans. They have narrowed the field to six finalists now: Aviators, Blue Wahoos, Loggerheads, Mullets, Redbones and Salty Dogs. Mullets? Really, Pensacola citizens? I like creative names, but making a joke won't be funny for much longer than a few days. I love the other five choices, actually. Which means Mullets will win. (PNJ.com )

HELTON TIES GEHRIG: Todd Helton ripped a double Wednesday night, which was No. 534 of his career. It tied him with the great Lou Gehrig for 31st on the all-time list.

"It's an honor to be mentioned at any level with a guy like that," Helton said. "That's a lot of doubles. I always considered myself a gap-to-gap hitter, and that's the way you get doubles. "More important, there were two guys on, and they turned out to be pretty big runs." (MLB.com )

GROUND RULES: Not one, but two games were affected by a batted ball being lodged between the outfield wall and the ground Wednesday night. In Tampa Bay, it was off the bat of Evan Longoria. Had Juan Rivera left the ball there and gotten a ground-rule double ruling, the Jays wouldn't have clipped Johnny Damon at home as he was trying to score from first. The Blue Jays ended up winning by one, too. On the other hand, in the same situation in Kansas City, Orioles' center fielder Adam Jones left a ball lodged in the base of the wall and let the umpire make the call while Mike Aviles raced around the bases for a would-be inside-the-park home run. The umpire called it a ground-rule double and Aviles was eventually stranded as the Orioles won by one run. Particularly disturbing was how easily Jones pulled the ball from the wall after the umpire made the call. It was stuck, only lodged. I don't want to make outfielders sift through obstructions in the outfield, but they shouldn't be able to gain an advantage for their team by refusing to touch a ball that slightly lodges in the wall. Please note, I'm not blaming Jones. It was smart because he knew what would be called. The rule is the issue. (MLB.com )

SIGN LANGUAGE: Mets catcher Josh Thole has a dog that was discovered to be deaf. Along with his wife, Thole has taught the dog to understand sign language and has since made many friends in the animal-care community. (New York Daily News )

SOON TO BE GATHERING DUST: Raise your hand if you're interested in reading John Rocker's "memoirs." Yeah, apparently his book, which he's shockingly having to self-publish, is due out in June. It's called "Scars and Strikes." It's reportedly a mixture of politics and sports. That's good. I always felt he needed to talk more about his political views, because it's paramount we learn what he thinks as soon as is humanly possible. I don't even know how we've survived the past few years without hearing much from him. (AJC.com )

THERE'S A STAT FOR EVERYTHING: In case you don't believe me, cloudy skies benefit hitters while wide-open blue skies benefit pitchers. Seriously. "Brighter conditions may result in increased eye strain for a batter and a higher level of glare in a ballpark," a meteorological study found. (OC Register )

CENTURY MARK FOR STAIRS: Matt Stairs has been around long enough to collect 100 pinch hits. (Washington Post ) The longevity is probably more impressive, though. Stairs has played for 12 teams in 19 seasons. He's actually been a pretty good hitter for much of that journeyman career. His triple slash line (Average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage) is .263/.357/.480. That gives him an OPS-plus of 118.

THROWBACKS: The Dodgers and Cubs played a game in some really nice throwback uniforms Wednesday. Here is a post that tells you far too much about the uniforms. (Uniwatchblog.com )

TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE: It's no secret Mike Stanton has some serious power. Consider Mark McGwire impressed after having seen Stanton up close. "Power hitters are born. He's just a born home run hitter," McGwire said after noting that Stanton is so talented he can play for "the next 25 years if he likes." High praise from a former basher himself (and keep the snickers to a minimum, please). Oh, and this was all said before Wednesday night when Stanton's bomb buried the Cardinals. (Miami Herald )

WHITHER WORLEY: Vance Worley is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 12 innings through two starts for the Phillies. Of course, he's about to have no spot in the rotation once Joe Blanton returns from the disabled list. You can't exactly bump Halladay or Cliff Lee or Cole Hamels or Oswalt. Blanton is firmly entrenched as the fifth starter, too. Philly.com takes a look at why it's OK for Worley to be sent back the minors and where he might fit if the club is inclined to keep him up with the big boys. One thing they didn't mention that I'd like to add is that maybe the Phillies could deal Blanton for a bat at some point? Some team is sure to get desperate for pitching at the trade deadline and the Phillies are going to need offense more than pitching at that point. Worley could slide in as a fine five for now.

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Posted on: April 21, 2011 3:14 pm
Edited on: April 21, 2011 3:40 pm

Braun signs big extension with Brewers

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Ryan BraunThe Brewers have announced a five-year extension for outfielder Ryan Braun through the 2020 season. There's also a mutual option for 2021.

According to CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler, the deal is worth $105 million for those five years from 2016-20, with a $10 million signing bonus. He'll make $19 million from 2016-18, $18 million in 2019 and $16 million in 2020. There's a mutual option worth $20 million for 2021 and a $4 million buyout. He has a no-trade clause and has agreed to defer some of the payments in hopes of helping the owners keep their payroll competitive.

Here are some other notes Knobler passed along:

• Braun and Troy Tulowitzki are the only two players in the game signed through 2020, with two more -- Joe Mauer and Adrian Gonzalez -- signed through 2018.

• The average annual value of his contract is $21 million, the most for any outfielder. He is guaranteed $145.5 million from this season through the end of the contract.

• Now 27, Bruan is now one of seven players signed through age 36 that have spent their entire career with one team, joining Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Ryan Howard, Chipper Jones and Todd Helton.

• It's the largest contract (by annual average value) given out by a team in the lower third of teams determined by the Nielson Company.

Braun had signed an eight-year, $45 million deal in May of 2008.

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Posted on: February 13, 2011 4:33 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2011 3:14 pm

Reports from reportings

Heath Bell With pitchers and catchers from nine teams reporting today, there's been plenty of news to report.

Here's a look around the league at some interesting tidbits:

• Padres closer Heath Bell, right, said he's surprised -- but happy -- he's still in San Diego. His agents are hoping for a multi-year deal with the team this spring. (MLB.com )

• Jered Weaver said he had "no hard feelings" toward the Angels after losing his arbitration case last week, but there are currently no talks about a long-term deal right now. (Los Angeles Times )

• Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton says he's glad he didn't get traded last season and wants to stay with the Diamondbacks long-term. (Arizona Republic )

• Here's a really good read, as Atlanta Journal-Constitution Braves beat writer David O'Brien goes on a motorcycle ride with new Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez, and the two talk motorcycles and managing following the ride on Super Bowl Sunday. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution )

• Padres manager Bud Black says in a Q&A that the team is more balanced this season than it was in 2010. (San Diego Union-Tribune )

• New Padres first baseman Brad Hawpe took a glove from former Rockies teammate Todd Helton to use at first base. (San Diego Union-Tribune )

• Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher had surgery to remove a cancerous nodule on his thyroid gland last Thursday. Butcher attended some of the team's meetings on Sunday and expects to be back full-time this week. (Orange County Register )

• Mariners closer David Aardsma hopes to be off crutches on Wednesday and maybe throwing a week or a week-and-a-half later. The Mariners closer hopes to return in April. (Seattle Times )

* The Mariners may be looking to add Chad Durbin to their bullpen. (FOXSports.com )

• The Indians see Orlando Cabrera as a "super utility" type, playing all around the infield. (Cleveland Plain Dealer )

• The Cubs and closer Carlos Marmol are expected to avoid arbitration and may announce a deal on Monday, the day before a hearing was scheduled. The Cubs offered $4.1 million and Marmol asked for $5.65 million. It's possible the two have reached a long-term deal. (MLB.com )

• Fans celebrate the 50th anniversary of Strat-O-Matic. (MLB.com )

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: January 21, 2011 5:43 pm
Edited on: January 21, 2011 6:13 pm

Can Todd Helton get 3,000 hits?

HeltonTodd Helton has been such a good hitter for so long, sometimes it's easy to overlook that fact.

But Helton is trying to get back to that level after struggling through a season in which he lost leg strength and later, mental strength.

Helton's .256 average was a career low and far cry from his career average of .324. Overall, he hit .256/.362/.367 with just eight home runs in 473 plate appearances. 

That's concerning for a 37-year-old first baseman with three years left on his team-friendly deal. Helton will be owed $29 million over the next three years but agreed to defer $13.1 million in 2010 which opened the door to the Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez extensions.

"I had no injury. I had mental injuries to my pride," Helton told the Denver Post. "Once the legs went, it was an uphill battle after that. But that was last year. I don't want to talk about that. It's over."

Helton's looking toward the future and has been focusing on leg and core strength this offseason as opposed to rehabbing his back, which has plagued him through the years.

"I felt like I was starting from ground zero from a strength perspective," Helton added. "And I just figured that I was at the point where I was going to push it as hard I can. It didn't matter if I blew it out, because [you] can't play this game without strength anyway. I wasn't going to baby it anymore."

Why would someone with so much money, accomplishments to his name already and a breaking-down body be so committed to returning to previous heights? Simple.

"I want to keep playing because I love the game. I love being around the guys. This is something I have done my entire life, and I want to keep doing as long as I can."

It's not just the love of the game that drives Helton, however. He's still seeking his first World Series ring, having come the closest in 2007 when the Rockies were swept by the Red Sox.

Oh, and there's that whole Hall of Fame argument too.

"People talk about the Hall of Fame, but I think I would need 3,000 hits, and I don't know if my body will allow me to get there," Helton said of his chances.

He's certainly going to get dinged for playing the majority of his career in pre-Humidor Coors Field, but a goal of 3,000 hits to lock up induction seems to be a stretch. Helton is currently at 2,236. If you hand him his 162-game average of 188 hits a year -- a mark he hasn't reached or surpassed since 2004 -- it would take him until the very beginning of the 2015 season, when Helton would be 41. That's a long time to expect someone to play at the top of his game.

How about his average of 144 hits in the past six seasons, which include an injury-shortened 2008 when he only played 83 games?

Add on another year to the march for 3,000 hits. With an average of 144 hits a year, it would take Helton until the early summer of 2016 to reach his goal. At that point, Helton would be nearing his 43rd birthday.

How about home-runs? 500 is a pipe dream -- Helton is sitting at 333 and hasn't hit more than 20 since 2004. If you give him 15 a season (and he's averaged 14 through the last six years) through the life of his contract, that still doesn't give him 400 home runs, although he would be just 22 away at that point. So OK, 400 home runs has a shot of happening.

Helton has had an incredible career and will command serious attention for a Hall of Fame bid when all is said and done, but it looks as if he'll have to go without 3,000 hits on his resume.

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com