Monday, January 29, 2007

Intestinal Distress or Fortitude for Todd Helton?

It was bad news, of course, when Rockies First Baseman Todd Helton was hospitalized last year with fever and a severe, lingering intestinal disorder. But now the good news is that -- perhaps -- the malady can be used to explain away Helton's declining production as a passing abberation rather than blame it on irreversible failure due to advancing age.

Helton suffered from what doctors labeled acute terminal ileitus -- an inflamation associated with Crohn's Disease -- that not only caused the 33-year-old slugger to lose more than 30 pounds of muscle but left him with acute cramping; and sapped his strength, endurance and likely his ability to concentrate throughout the season.

Whereas Helton hit .358 with 117 RBI and 33 homers as recently as 2003, his successive totals plummeted each year since until he hit just .302 with 81 RBI and 15 homers in his sickly season last year. Bouncing back next season to something closer to his career averages would tend to signal that Helton has escaped anything approaching diagnosable Crohn's, a chronic, potentially debilitating disorder for which there is no cure.

Laboratory tests likely indicate Helton is out of danger, and that rumors of Crohn's are -- pardon the expression -- behind him. Only time will confirm that this is so, as Crohn's -- if it is indeed such -- can recur at any time, even years hence. But evidently an evaluation by the Boston Red Sox points to Helton's full recovery, even if a previous, perhaps less comprehensive analysis by the Los Angeles Angels reportedly is at variance.

Look for the Rockies to pick up only about half of the remaining $90.1 million of Helton's $141 million contract, and dump the rest on the Red Sox as Helton is sent to Boston in exchange for prospects such as pitchers Craig Hansen or Manny Del Carmen. Not only will the Rockies have saved money, space will have been created for outfielder Brad Hawpe to return to his natural position at first base, and the promising rookie Jeff Baker to replace Hawpe in right field.

2 comments:

kazuneko said...

Can I ask where you are getting the following:
"Laboratory tests likely indicate Helton is out of danger, and that rumors of Crohn's are -- pardon the expression -- behind him. Only time will confirm that this is so, as Crohn's -- if it is indeed such -- can recur at any time, even years hence. But evidently an evaluation by the Boston Red Sox points to Helton's full recovery, even if a previous, perhaps less comprehensive analysis by the Los Angeles Angels reportedly is at variance.l"
I am trying to research these details but haven't been able to find anything other than on your blog..

The Cooperstown Kid said...

First, thanks for your interest. I should think it would be helpful to note that -- by design -- a good deal of MLB Rumors by MLBnewsonline is unique material derived from first person interviews or other original sources. Generally, attribution is not provided for material that is partially derived or inspired from multiple common news outlets, is generally in the public domain or is obvious; ie: you would never see, for instance, "Mickey Mantle, who bats cleanup for the Yankees according to the New York Times." Specifically regarding the case in point, about Todd Helton, the information is derived from multiple sources of virtually all descriptions since my first contact with Rose Memorial Hospital, where Todd Helton was being treated last year. While the hospital would not go into detail, it was not difficult to extrapolate obvious conclusions through interviews with a prominent medical consultant for a major baseball injury analyst, both of whose identity must remain confidential for reasons of courtesy if nothing else. Also, a good deal of information on Crohn's Disease was derived though information diseminated by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., though obviously Mayo was not specifically consulted about Helton. The assertions regarding Crohn's are largely mine, based on conclusions drawn from the processes I have just described, though a number of other sources have addressed, if with uncertainty, the Crohn's issue. (The host of the XM Radio fantasy baseball show, Jeff somebody or other) mentioned it in passing yesterday. There is much inaccuracy about poor Todd Helton. He DOES NOT have a "stomach problem," it is intestinal. He DOES NOT have a "back problem," it was a neck vertebra. He may or may not have Crohn's, but likely doesn't if major news outlet reports are correct about the state of his vitality during his ongoing workouts in Tennessee. According to my sources, the Crohn's question comes down to this: If Helton's diet modification and other steps allow him to perform normally with no further intestinal distress, HE DOES NOT have Crohn's. If the condition returns, it would in all probability be diagnosed as Crohn's, advanced from the original diagnosis of acute terminal ileitus, which is a classic but not absolute symptom of Crohn's. Regarding the Angels concerns, they were reported somewhat vaguely (in passing) by a major news outlet or two which I do not clearly recall, but I'm tempted to say MLB.com. I'm sorry I don't have time to retrace my steps just now. I'm up to my eyeballs in computer glitches and I did not take notes. In any event, the Angels deal was evidently moot, as Helton reportedly would have nixed it anyway. I hope I have answered your question.