With Colorado on the hook for a big sack of cash, the Denver Post’s Mark Kizla says of Rockies fixture  Todd Helton, “this relationship between the 33-year-old first baseman and a ballclub operating on a parsimonious budget has become so awkward that it’s a messy divorce waiting to happen.”

With his offensive production in steady decline for three consecutive seasons, Helton (above) now hits softly and carries a big salary. He has not swatted 30 home runs in a season since 2004. He has not driven in 100 runs since 2003. In 2007, he’s a candidate for most overpaid player in the game.

Compared to the high-rent district the New York Yankees call home, the Rockies live in a double-wide trailer, and Helton is the Bentley with a flat tire parked out front.

His nine-year, $141.5 million contract extension now has the Rockies over a barrel. But wasn’t Monfort sitting on that same barrel when Helton signed it?

On the fine spring day in 2001 that Helton signed the mega-deal, he said the best thing about the deal was it would let him go out and play without worrying about statistics.

His bat and those words have not aged particularly well.

Manager Clint Hurdle has been notified this could be his last chance to get it right in the Colorado dugout, and general manager Dan O’Dowd has used up more lives than two cats.

If baseball is played without a clock, why does the ticking now seem so loud in the presence of Hurdle, O’Dowd and Helton?

The Washington Post’s Thomas Boswell surveys the state of the Washington Nationals and predicts the 2007 edition will be “shockingly unprofessional, unworthy of the town they represent and the $611 million price of the team’s new park.”

Right now, the Nats’ rotation is John Patterson plus Nobody Else. That is, unless you consider Shawn Hill, Jason Bergmann, Beltran Perez, Billy Traber and Mike O’Connor a staff. They won 10 games combined last year. If the often-injured Patterson can’t stay healthy — and he’s never won more than nine games — there’s almost no limit to how bad this team could be. How many fans could that alienate? And why, for the sake of saving such a small amount of money, would you take such a risk?

There’s a couple of Schmuck Radio mouthpieces in Boston who are touting Curt Schilling for a 2008 Senate run to unseat John Kerry.  Thankfully for future generations, the shy, retiring Schilling tells the Boston Herald’s Jesse “Bring The” Noyes that he has “too many problems with the political scene,” and has a video game business to run.