It was announced yesterday that Todd Helton would be missing the rest of the Rockies season because of a torn labrum. It doesn't help the team out for the rest of 2012 to be missing their veteran 1B, but this 2012 team has been beyond help. Unbelievably unlucky, with head scratching team moves and a losing pace that could see Colorado finish in '03 Tigers territory, just about everyone in the organization is going to look back at this season and want to forget it.
Am I seriously saying that Helton's injury is a good thing for the Rockies? I think I might be, at least going into 2013. It's good because it gives the team yet another chance to get it right, perhaps a final chance.
Assume that Todd's injury hadn't been as bad, and he had played out the 100 loss string. Perhaps he then finally gets a surgery in the off season and isn't ready for 2013. Perhaps he ends up being sick of going out for game after game after game after miserable game of futility after already enduring well over a decade of that same futility, when it's only seeming to get worse. It was very easy for Helton to say 'Yes, I'll play next season' after being benched for the final two months of the year. That's 40-50 more losses -- probably, anyway -- that he won't have to be a part of on the field.
Yes, he has said he will play again. That might be good news nugget No. 1 for the team this year.
I know that many fans including myself continue to think every single year that it's the final year for Helton. I know there are a lot of fans around MLB who would be absolutely thrilled to see him win a World Series as well. Plenty of non-Rockies fans were cheering for the Rox in the 2007 World Series after they saw that iconic image of Helton with his arms in the air in triumph because he knew he was finally getting his shot.
We don't talk about what happened after that, of course.
With injuries continuing to pile up year after year for Helton, the more paranoid fans including myself will once again be predicting the end of times, or at least the end of Helton's career, in 2013. So why is the Helton injury a good thing? It means that he'll be ready to hopefully get a full season out in 2013, which will give the front office one final chance to bring him that World Series that he so rightfully deserves.
This off season, we don't want to see Dan O'Dowd and the rest of the crew sitting on their thumbs and trying another experiment by bringing it 'high character' guys and a bunch of fourth tier pitchers. Todd Helton deserves better, and this is the final countdown for them. Whether it's a solid addition or two in free agency or just finding another guy like Josh Rutledge in the minors that they can use to keep the team contending, there's some work to be done and they don't have three years to do it any more -- Todd doesn't have that time left.
Am I really saying that the team need to throw all caution to the wind and become a team of buyers like the Buffalo Sabres did in the NHL last season? I think I might be. They've tried just about everything else and had it not been for two miraculous runs in 2007 and 2009, the team really would have nothing to show for it.
2013 will assuredly be a better season for Colorado than 2012 was, there's no way that a team can be that unlucky two years running and all of the young guns on the team will have another year of experience under their belts. Rosario, Pomeranz, Freidrich, there's plenty of guys on the squad who had mediocre to good flashes this season and will likely improve next year. People were saying before the year that the Rockies had all the tools to make at least a decent run at a wild card spot, so it should take only a tweak or two to push them back at least into that echelon of teams. (Not having Jeremy Guthrie and Jamie Moyer as the top two pitchers in the rotation shouldn't hurt either.)
One or two other, bigger moves could make them division contenders -- look at what the Dodgers of this season or the Padres of 2010 did after miserable years in the ever-weak NL West.
Next year will be better and will feature a healthy Todd on the roster, perhaps for the very last time ever. That's the last shot they get. Make no mistake, no matter when it happens it will assuredly be a joyous time in Denver when the team finally wins a World Series, but it would be just a bit heartbreaking if they were to do it with the best player in franchise history sitting in the crowd.