Todd Helton is 36 years old, looking at his second back-injury shortened season in three years, and a year away from free agency. So as much of a blow his latest trip to the DL is to the Rockies, it's also an opportunity to begin considering Life After Helton.
Since Helton has been out of action, Brad Eldred, called up from Triple-A, and Jason Giambi have started at first. But manager Jim Tracy said as many as five people could play first in Helton's absence. Catcher Chris Iannetta (pictured, after his walk-off home run Wednesday night) played some first base in college at North Carolina, and outfielder Brad Hawpe will be taking grounders at first as well. Melvin Mora also has appeared five times at first for the Rockies this year.
But the Rockies are playing well and in position to contend for the National League West, especially if the Padres' lack of offense catches up with them. Should Colorado be looking for a more significant addition? Giambi and Mora are long in the tooth, Hawpe is falling apart physically, Iannetta is batting .217 and needed behind the plate, and Eldred hasn't shown he can be a factor at the major league level yet.
If the Rockies think Helton's health is going to continue to be a factor, they might want to consider trading for someone like Baltimore's versatile Ty Wigginton or Arizona's Kelly Johnson, who would give them some options without breaking the bank.
-- David Andriesen
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