When I was a young boy in southern Colorado, whenever someone asked who my favorite athlete was, I answered with the same thing every time: Todd Helton. That answer has not changed, even now that I’m almost 26 and it probably won’t change anytime soon. I was saddened to see his final days with the Rockies in 2013 because I knew I would never get to watch him play baseball again, but what an honor it was to watch the greatest Rockie who ever lived.
Lo and behold though, to the surprise of many on Saturday afternoon, the Rockies announced that Helton would be rejoining the team as a special assistant to the general manager. For nearly 10 years, “17” has been out of the big leagues, mainly helping the University of Tennessee in the athletic department, and making occasional appearances for the Rockies at various events. But now, he has a chance to help develop the next generation of Rockies players that aspire to be as great as Helton was in purple.
Helton’s assignment will be that of a roaming coach. He will travel the farm system, looking at specific teams and specific players, and helping to teach them the skills they need. We got a glimpse of this in the early days of spring training this year when he arrived to work specifically with Michael Toglia at first base. When you’re trying to prepare the next franchise player, it helps to have a previous franchise player around to impart wisdom.
This is a great move by the organization. A common theme I notice that keeps coming up is that the Rockies are trying to improve their culture. They are trying to emphasize winning at the minor league level and are trying to get back to a culture of winning and comradery they’ve enjoyed during their best seasons. Todd Helton is the embodiment of career consistency and dominance.
In his 17 years with Colorado, Helton batted .316/.414/.539 with 369 homers. He leads the team in games played (2,247), runs (1,401), hits (2519), doubles (592), RBI (1,406), and walks (1,335), all while being a five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger, and three-time Gold Glove winner. His 61.8 bWAR is also the highest in team history with Larry Walker coming in second with 48.3 bWAR. There doesn’t seem to be anyone more qualified to help young hitters in the Rockies organization than the ToddFather himself.
On the other side of things, this is a move that feels motivated to increase public relations with the fanbase. After 2018, it has felt like Rockies fans have dealt with nothing but bad news again and again in a cascade of fodder that didn’t seem to have an end. Two star players wanted nothing more than to get out of town to greener pastures. The general manager was as cuddly as a porcupine, and the plan to improve the performance on the field was nothing more than to try and play better.
Now there are several fan favorites working with the front office. Vinny Castilla has been with the team since 2007 as a special assistant and his positivity and knowledge play a pivotal role in the club. Clint Hurdle, the winningest manager in team history, is helping with development and serving as a special advisor. They are great to have, but they aren’t Todd Helton.
Through thick and thin, Helton was always there during his career. He played during the highest of highs and the lowest of lows for Colorado. He chose to stay with the Rockies, even deferring some money to help the club in a pinch. He brought consistency and dependability at first base for nearly two decades and when he was healthy led a team of young stars towards the future. He defined Rockies baseball. He defined what it means to be a pure hitter not only at Coors Field but on the road. It didn’t matter where he happened to be hitting, he would do what he was born to do. Fans don’t forget those kinds of things.
Todd Helton is finally back where he belongs. He now has the chance to play a role in developing the Rockies into something he strived to help it become as a player. He had a front-row seat to the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Rockies organization, and will now be able to help bring about the things he didn’t experience as a player.
Todd Helton’s return to the team that gave his career life is one of the best things that could ever happen for the organization. The ToddFather is back, and I can’t wait to see what he can do for the franchise.
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Connor Joe is primed to get plenty of playing time with the Rockies this year, especially if he keeps hitting clutch home runs as he did on Saturday night against the Dodgers. Serving as the DH opens up opportunities and this article dives into Joe’s preparation and how he is going to approach his role when it comes to batting for the Rockies.
This article goes more in-depth about Helton’s hiring and includes quotes from Bill Schmidt and more about what Helton’s role will be going forward. Helton will focus on the minor leagues, but it seems to be a continuing trend for the team. According to Thomas Harding’s article Schmidt also said there could be more familiar faces like Helton and Hurdle in front-office roles in the future. I haven’t been this excited about new reveals since Banjo and Kazooie were added to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
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On the Farm
A rough night on the hill for Albuquerque resulted in their third loss of the season as Zach Neal was tagged for six runs on eight hits in 3 1⁄3 innings of work. Regan Todd would follow and allow two runs on two hits in 2⁄3 of an inning. Nate Griep also struggled in his lone inning of work, allowing four runs on four hits. Zach Lee and Ben Bowden provided good relief however in the final innings of the game as they had scoreless outings, with Bowden striking out three batters in two innings of work. Colton Welker had two hits on the night and scored a pair of runs while Kyle Holder and Scott Schebler both hit their first home runs of the season.
The Hartford bats came alive in their second game of the season, downing Binghamton 13-2 on Saturday thanks in part to an eight-run third inning. Nick Bush got the start and strike out eight in six scoreless innings of work. Riley Pint in his first appearance since retiring last season tossed a scoreless inning with two strikeouts in a good look for the former top prospect. Offensively the Yard Goats smacked five doubles as a team. They also hit three home runs, including Ezequiel Tovar’s first Double-A home run in the third inning.
Joe Rock was stellar in his Spokane debut, allowing one run on three hits and striking out six batters in six innings of work, and leading Spokane to their first victory of the season. Drew Romo had a strong night at the plate for the Indians, going 4 for 5 with a double and scoring two runs. Grant Lavigne added a pair of hits and drove in a couple of runs to help aid a strong offensive output by Spokane. Jared Biddy, Tanner Propst and Anderson Bido pitched the final three innings of the night, allowing just one run on three hits and striking seven batters combined.
The Fresno Grizzlies roared to victory with a barrage of hits against the Stockton Ports in a 16-4 win. Fresno totaled 16 runs on 15 hits including five home runs with Hunter Goodman hitting a pair to drive in five runs. The Grizzlies put the game out of reach in the bottom of the eighth with a nine-run inning. Six Fresno batters had multi-hit games and only two batters didn’t record a hit in the lineup. On the pitching end, Victor Juarez got the start going 4 2⁄3 innings allowing three runs on five hits and recording five strikeouts. The bullpen tossed scoreless baseball until the ninth when Stockton tacked on a run against Sergio Sanchez.
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