Denver Post columnist: Bench Todd Helton

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He’s not Griffey or Jeter, but to Rockies fans Todd Helton is close in terms of importance and stature. Which is why I was rather shocked to see this today from Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post:

Rather than pick up a piece of lumber
from the bat rack, Todd Helton should grab some pine on the bench. Is it baseball blasphemy to suggest the Rockies should sit down the
best player in franchise history?

At age 36, he’s not Beltin’ Helton anymore.

Of course, Kiszla suggests that it should be the 39 year-old Jason Giambi who should take Helton’s job, so he ain’t exactly thinking long term here.

Helton is getting base at a more-than-healthy .393 clip. The problem is his power, which is non-existent.  It would be one thing if the Rockies had some monster first base prospect hanging around, but they don’t. They have Jason Giambi who, however useful he has been off the bench, is not going to help anyone starting at first base every day. Putting Giambi in that role does not solve any problems. It just angers the fans and the guy the Rockies are paying $16 million a year to be the franchise.

Maybe Helton shouldn’t be hitting in the middle of the order anymore, but he’s not going to the bench. Nor should he.

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.

The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.

Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.

Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”