Todd Helton returned to the Rockies lineup Tuesday after missing a month with back stiffness. The question is: Are Rox fans excited about this?

Helton has been the face of the franchise for the past decade. He has been around for the dark ages of the early 2000s, all the way through the magical World Series appearance in ’07, and the surprise return to the playoffs in ’09.

But the honeymoon is finished. Helton is batting a career worst .247. He has a mere 16 RBI in 251 ABs. Helton has only hit two homers and 10 doubles. His slugging percentage (.311) and OPS (.649) are career lows. Oh and did I mention he is getting paid $17.75 million this season?

The Rockies were unable to make any deadline moves because money was tight. Imagine the type of player that could have been acquired for HALF that amount.

I’m not here to completely bash Helton. He is 36, an age where plenty of stars begin to see a decline in performance. He still has a great approach at the plate—raising the pitch count of the opposition in the process.

He is the leader of the clubhouse; this guy has been a Rockie since 1997! He does a great job of making the rookies feel comfortable with his laid back personality, and he still plays a decent first-base.

But the fact remains: Helton hasn’t had over 20 home runs since ’04, which was also the last time he knocked in 100 RBIs. The one part of Todd’s game that could always be counted on was his great overall batting average. So when you see a .247 mark next to his name, you begin to worry.

The worst part of Helton coming back is the fact that Jonathan Herrera had to be sent down to AAA. Herrera played well for the Rockies in his time in the bigs, as he hit .278 and his versatility/ability to handle the bat in action situations—bunts, hit-and-runs, etc. was impressive.

Herrera will be back in September, if not sooner, according to manager Jim Tracy.

As time moves forward, the Rockies and Helton are going to be in an awkward situation. What to do with the aging slugger that provided so many positive memories? Certainly this isn’t the first time this situation has risen, but it is the first time for the Rockies.

Obviously the Rockies can’t cut the face of the franchise. They can’t trade a contract that large either. There is no graceful ending in sight. Management is left just crossing their fingers and hoping for the young Todd Helton to return.

Fat chance.

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