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June 3, 2010

Under The Knife

Thursday Update

by Will Carroll

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Mark Teixeira (bruised foot)
Jorge Posada (fractured foot)
"Didn't Jorge Posada have negative x-rays?" That's the type of irrational behavior that just flummoxes me. A Yankee fanatic—not fan, but fanatic—asked this question after it was announced that Teixeira had good news. Teixeira's foot is bruised and sore, but according to images, not broken. Yes, it's possible that a fracture can be missed, such as when a fracture is so small that it only takes two weeks to heal, as it did with Posada. Teixeira was back in the lineup at first base on Wednesday and it appears that the breathless Yankees fans can go back to complaining about something else as they dust off their championships. As for Posada, he returned from the DL and immediately went to DH. The question now is when he can move from DH to catching. Joe Girardi said that Posada had not been cleared by doctors to catch, so we have to think there's some reason. According to one of my favorite orthos, he thinks the answer is in the fracture. "If he's back there squatting, he's putting pressure on that bone in a way that he wouldn't walking, standing, or even running," he explained. "Squatting puts a lot of pressure on the forefoot and toes, so if this fracture is up there, as we'd guess it would be, putting 200 pounds of pressure on it is going to test just how healed it is." Caution's the play here and Francisco Cervelli is helping them be patient. Posada didn't appear to be wearing anything at bat, so I'm guessing that he has some sort of padding or hard plastic in the shoe or even in an ankle wrap.

Carlos Beltran (arthritic knee, ERD 7/15)
Over the past couple days, I've read some articles focused on anonymous sources. Morgan Ensberg, always an intriguing read, even when I disagree with him, rails against "cowards" who hide behind anonymous quotes and the writers that use them. In another, a writer railed about anonymous quotes being used to assail Bryce Harper's makeup, then closes with an anonymous quote from a GM regarding Harper's potential. I use anonymous sources every day, so I pay very close attention to things like this. In this article, the anonymous quote from a Mets front office-type is very intriguing. Sure, I can see why someone wouldn't want to go on record about Oliver Perez's status, but why would this person not want to give the very limited details about Beltran amping up his running program? The answer is likely that it's the same person and by protecting both quotes, no one gets to play guessing games. What really struck me is that Jerry Manuel (on record this time) said that he was willing to give Beltran frequent rest and occasionally use him at the corner outfield spots. Occasionally? Beltran at center field is a disaster waiting to happen and it seems that Manuel is headed down that path. Beltran is only running at 80 percent, whatever that means... well, it means that he's jogging briskly, but not running or turning sharply, which sounds a lot less than 80 percent of the way back to baseball. I just worry that whatever progress Beltran makes isn't going to last, but there are positive examples, such as Lance Berkman, if you want to hang your hat on that one. The ERD is shifted back again, this time to the far side of the All-Star break.

Mark Reynolds (strained quad)
There's no question that Reynolds swings hard. So hard that sometime last week, he strained his quad. The medical staff has kept him going, but the quad is at a stage where it's not getting any better, held in a limbo by hard work and pain tolerance. The Diamondbacks, struggling and facing some sort of shakeup according to media reports, might push Reynolds to the DL in order to let it heal up, though he pinch-hit in Tuesday's game, blowing a retro move. More interestingly, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic points out that this injury actually has roots going all the way back to spring training. There's really no indication of how the D'Backs will handle this going forward, so these imminent changes might give the team a reason to tell Reynolds to heal up rather than just buying the third baseman a couple days of rest.

Chipper Jones (inflamed finger, ERD 6/7)
Jones left Tuesday's game with what the Braves described as an "inflamed right ring finger." This comes shortly after missing a couple games with a sore groin, so it's a typical Jones week at this stage in his career. There's no known causation for this injury, but it's evidently been lingering for a couple weeks. Sources tell me that the finger hasn't responded and that the likely next step is a cortisone injection, though Jones is hesitant. When batting lefty, the finger is more of a problem due to Jones' grip. Jones drops his pinky over the knob of the bat, leaving that ring finger against the knob and taking much of the force of the swing, much the way that Andre Ethier's pinky did. We'll have to see how this progresses, though Ethier isn't a good comp. Jones' finger isn't fractured. The DL doesn't seem likely, but missed time is.

Mike Cameron (strained abdominals)
The injury to Cameron is going to linger. The type of abdominal strain he has is one I'm all too familiar with, having undergone surgery last year to correct a similar problem. It's not something that gets better instantly and even after surgery, I can feel it "grab" during certain activities. Cameron didn't have surgery, but even healed enough to play baseball, it's the residual soreness afterward that's the issue. The Red Sox had tests that showed Cameron doesn't have new tearing, so this is going to be an issue of maintenance, warm up, and pain tolerance. That's nearly impossible to predict, leaving the Sox medical staff working on all phases of injury management in hopes of keeping Cameron productive and relatively comfortable. Sources tell me the team is very reluctant to put Cameron back on the DL with Jacoby Ellsbury still out. That means we'll be dealing with this story for a while.

Daniel Murphy (sprained knee, ERD TBD)
Positional change risk is something we talk about here sometimes, especially in the Team Health Reports, but Murphy got an object lesson in it at Triple-A Buffalo. In only his second game at second base, Murphy got rolled up big on a double play. It was one of those rough-but-clean plays you'll see when a guy's trying to break up a double play, I was told by an observer, but Murphy was caught on the wrong side of the bag. He couldn't put any weight on the leg as he was being carried off the field and was in obvious pain after the game. While there are no details on the extent of the injury, Murphy did start the season on the DL with an MCL sprain on that leg, so he's not going to be the guy called up by the Mets to replace Luis Castillo now. It's also a reminder that minor-league athletic trainers have a pretty heady job, trying to keep guys one step (or many) from the big leagues healthy, all without staff to assist them or the fancy equipment big leaguers take for granted.

Placido Polanco (sore elbow, ERD 6/5)
J.A. Happ (forearm strain, ERD 6/27)
Jimmy Rollins (strained calf, ERD 6/9)
The Phillies seem to be trying to prove that even the most talented team can be felled by injuries. If you look at their success during their proto-dynastic run of the last few years, much of it is colored by what some would say is a lack of injury, but what I'd say is more accurately described as minimization of injuries. Chase Utley had major hip surgery, but they were able to keep him out there on the way to a World Series. Over the last few weeks, the Phillies have dealt with a lot of little injuries that have amounted to a stack, but they're starting to trickle back into the lineup. Polanco is expected back at the end of the week after getting a cortisone shot in his elbow. The cortisone was necessary to relieve some inflammation, though there are rumblings that Polanco has some bone chips. Coming after a hit by pitch from Tim Hudson, "chips" implies something was wrong and that hit moved them or that there was more to that injury than we thought. Polanco is expected back on Friday. Happ is making progress after a slow, progressive rehab. He'll throw three innings at extended spring training today and if things go well, he'll start a rehab assignment next week. The rehab is expected to go three, maybe four starts, which puts him back towards the end of June. Finally, the Phillies are going to be patient and conservative with Rollins, as expected. Rollins is eligible to come off the DL on Sunday, but the medical staff is going to hold him out a couple of extra days to make sure that there's as little chance of a recurrence as possible. There's going to be a hold on his running, even more than last time, so fantasy teams are going to feel more of an effect than the Phillies will.

Simon
Thanks to all who kept my dog, Simon, in their thoughts. Simon injured his CCL, the canine equivalent of the ACL. Turns out he had a congenital laxity in his patellar tendon, allowing the kneecap to subluxate and put more pressure on the CCL. Veterinary surgeon Dr. Tom Lee performed a fibular transposition, moving the smaller bone of the lower leg (just like in a human) to allow the equivalent of his MCL to take on the role of the CCL. It's not an operation that would work in a human due to the way that the canine stifle (knee) loads, but it's impressive technology. More impressive, his ERD is six to eight weeks. Dr. Lee expects him to be walking within a week and back to 70 percent by three weeks. 

Quick Cuts: Mark Teahen will miss a month with a fractured finger. The White Sox third baseman will have a pin inserted to help it heal. ... Derrek Lee was scratched from the Cubs' lineup amid rumors that the Angels were trying to deal for him. The Cubs say Lee has a mild hamstring strain. ... Kendry Morales has still not had surgery on his leg as far as I can tell. If there's still significant swelling there after 72 hours, there could be more damage than just the fracture. I'm working to get more details. ... Vicente Padilla is scheduled for the first of three rehab outings on Thursday. ... Jon Rauch admits he's having some hamstring issues, but says it isn't affecting his pitching. His results say differently. ... Alexi Casilla will have his elbow scoped, removing a bone spur and generally cleaning things up. He'll miss six weeks or so. ... Boof Bonser's rehab clock has almost expired as he recovers from a groin strain. It's very unclear what the Red Sox intend to do with him, but they'll have to decide this weekend. He's unlikely to make another minor-league appearance. ... Castillo will head to the DL with heel problems. His left heel is bruised, but his right heel is having issues because of the gait change. ... The Indians think Anthony Reyes will go on a rehab assignment by the start of July as he returns from Tommy John surgery. His recovery could allow the Indians to make a deal. ... My Ken Griffey Jr. memory? I was in Tim Kremchek's office doing an interview with him on the day that Griffey won Comeback Player of the Year. Griffey burst in, hugged Kremchek, and said "We did it." They said a couple things, then Griffey turned, smiled and said "Sorry." I just smiled back. "No problem, Junior." In five years, I wonder if Griffey will be remember for what he did or what he didn't do. He retires without a ring, without major records, and yet I can't imagine him not being a first-ballot Hall of Famer. I'll leave that analysis to Jay Jaffe, but it's stunning to look at his numbers and see the difference between reality and perception over the last decade. No one clamored for Reggie Jackson to be a unanimous Hall of Famer, though that's whose career Griffey just had.

21 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Mike W
(830)

When will Simon begin to take BP? Field Frisbees?

Jun 03, 2010 08:57 AM
rating: 6
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

BP will be tough since he doesn't have opposable thumbs. Fetch could be about eight weeks.

Jun 03, 2010 09:52 AM
 
BuzzingThalami

And what does 70% really mean, for a dog? Does a CCL injury effect control, or velocity, more?

Jun 03, 2010 17:43 PM
rating: 0
 
John Carter

"No one clamored for Reggie Jackson to be a unanimous Hall of Famer, though that's who's career Griffey just had."

Will? We will give you a mulligan on that comment, if you are willing to take it back. Jackson was a DH with a middling batting average. He was also a post season regular and thrived in that limelight. Neither of those things could be said of Griffey who won many gold gloves, but had very few post seasons. Willie Mays is actually a closer comp than Reggie and it is a crime he wasn't a unanimous first ballot Hall of Famer. However, you could have made your point with less outcry (perhaps, that was your intention) by invoking Frank Robinson, who would be a better compe yet, though, still far from close.

Jun 03, 2010 09:50 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

No, I'm standing with that one. The defense is the big difference, obviously. What I was going for is that Jackson and Griffey both had "bad" last decades of their careers. Look at their stats - would most have guessed that Reggie had more career SBs than Junior? No, because we've got images in our head - the mythology has overtaken reality. Painting Griffey as "The Kid" or as "The Clean One" is not helping us find the reality. The map is not the territory. They're not the SAME player, they're comparable players.

I stayed away from Mays - also comparable - because flat out, he was better in age-comparable seasons. Over a career, we're talking about more than a 100 steals, 30 homers, a 100 something RBI. There's a good Rickey Henderson season between Griffey and Mays.

Career WARP: Jackson 74.9, Griffey 74.3, Mays 161.3

And yes, Griffey and Jackson are very comparable players, says an independent arbiter: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/g/griffke02.shtml

Jun 03, 2010 10:03 AM
 
John Carter

Right, of course it all depends on what you are comparing. Griffey had a more similar skill set with Mays, just not quite as outstanding nor was he able to stay healthy as much in the latter half of his career. Sure, Junior's total value to his team over the course of his career comes out closer to Reggie, but their difference on defensive ability (Reggie had a great arm, but always had trouble figuring where the flies were going to land), and the fact that Reggie was a strikeout king, while Kenny was probably better than average in that department, makes them very different types of players. Never mind our impression that one is extremely extroverted and the other seems more the opposite, they had almost as many disimilarities on the field as they had similarities. There just haven't been many players who were able to hit so many home runs, thus, Reggie ranks in the top 10 in similarity - as does Mays.

Sorry, I don't see Jackson as having such a bad 2nd half of his career either. Reggie had MVP votes 6 times in his 30s - Griffey only once. Reggie hit 55% of his home runs at age 30 or older - Kenny only 37%.

Anyway, moving on . . . I would assume with all the advancements in physical training, the increased professionalism of athletes (fewer slackers, etc.? I don't know), and the crack down on PEDs, that aging curves will start to look more predictable. Willie, Reggie, F. Roby, and Kenny all lost a good chunk of their power at some point in their 30s as have most players. Obviously every body is different, but would you agree with my assumptions? Do you see power declining more slowly than what players experienced in the past, but with fewer Barry Bonds type anomolies?

Jun 03, 2010 12:27 PM
rating: 0
 
Dr. Dave

No, Will had it right. Griffey had Mays's reputation, but nothing like Mays's skills. Nor Frank Robinson's, while we're at it. Reggie is a very close comp.

OPS+:
Griffey 135
Reggie 139
Mays 156
Robinson 154

WAR:
Griffey 78.4
Reggie 74.6
Mays 154.7
Robinson 107.4

Reggie wasn't a CF, but he was a decent RF for much of his career, and a much better player than is remembered today. (Robinson was a VASTLY better player than is remembered today.) And, of course, Griffey is probably the most overrated fielder of our time(now that Jeter has improved to reasonable levels).

There's no shame in being about as valuable as Reggie, but let's not confuse Griffey with the Inner Circle players like Mays.

Jun 03, 2010 17:27 PM
rating: 3
 
John Carter

Again, like Will, you are comparing overall value and I was primarily comparing types of skills. In types of skills Griffey was more of a Mays than a Reggie. Does anybody disagree with that?

Even comparing overall value, you haven't convinced me Griffey is closer to Reggie than F. Roby. OPS (not sure about WAR - the glossary here doesn't give adequate details - but maybe that, too) doesn't take into account Griffey's superior defense compared to Jackson's. If Reggie was ever "decent", it was only because of his arm. I haven't looked at the numbers, but when Reggie came to my home metropolitan area in the 70s (New York) I recall being shocked at how awkward Jackson looked at honing in on the fly balls. Compared to someone who came a little later, he looked at least as bad as Kirk Gibson. Griffey may have been over-rated, but he must have been an above average CF most of his career. There must be significant Wins Above Replacement accumulated over those years of being an above average CF compared to a below average RF that are ignored when you compare their OPS. Are they included in the WAR you cite?

Jun 03, 2010 20:39 PM
rating: -1
 
Brian24

In any case, Will's point was obviously related to Griffey's overall career value to his teams, which was similar to Reggie's.

Griffey was a CF, but most of the defensive stats out there have him as a mildly below average one for most of his career.

Btw, I also grew up in NY in the '70s, and I remember Reggie for his wicked arm in RF, not for any awkwardness. But I bled pinstripes at the time, so I no doubt missed any negative factors.

Jun 04, 2010 14:41 PM
rating: 0
 
Dr. Dave

I suppose that, yes, I disagree with that. Griffey has a reputation for Mays-like skills and style, but he never had them. Really. Just compare:

Mays stole > 200 bases by age 30, leading the league 4 times.

Mays hit 94 triples by age 30.

Mays was one of the greatest defensive CF of all time, as best we can tell from the available stats.

Reggie stole 171 bases by age 30, with a high of 28.

Reggie hit 28 triples by age 30.

Reggie in his youth was a good-fielding RF with a great arm. He also played nearly 200 games in CF before his 30th birthday. I can't quote his fielding runs because BP seems to have removed the useful stats from the player cards, but I remember them as slightly positive in his youth, slightly negative overall.

The Kid stole 173 bases by age 30, with a high of 24.

The Kid hit 33 triples by age 30.

The Kid had an outstanding defensive reputation in CF, but the objective measures always placed him somewhere between average and awful. He made a lot of highlight reels, but didn't cover much ground. His fielding runs (same caveat as above) were about like Reggie's, even comparing only their youths.

So, which of these things is not like the others? Griffey and Jackson are almost identical in "style profile" when standing next to Mays, even if you only look at their youths.

Jun 04, 2010 15:36 PM
rating: 0
 
John Carter

All right. I didn't realize The Kid's outfield playing was that bad. Do all the most legitimate defensive metrics agree with that assesment? It sure belies the one stat I do know - that he played CF for two full decades and won a wall's worth of gold gloves.

And, perhaps, Reggie was better than the impression he made on the days I saw him. He played a good sprinkling of DH almost since the rule started, but he wasn't a regular there until he was 37. It is still hard to believe an occasional DH fielded as well as a consistent gold glove CF, but if that is what our best look at the stats tells us, then maybe it's so.

One stat you left out:

Willie's BA <30: .317
Reggie's BA <30: .265
Kenny's BA <30: .299

Note to Will, Dr. Dave et all -
I argue with the utmost respect and gratitude to Baseball Prospectus for enabling it. My biggest pet peave about watching a Major League broadcast is that the announcers never argue! It drives me crazy - as if anything they pronounce is the final word.

Jun 05, 2010 12:52 PM
rating: -1
 
djwells

Hmmm...did Reggie win 10 straight Gold Gloves?

Jun 03, 2010 09:50 AM
rating: -3
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

Derek Jeter has four. Do you really want to base this discussion on the most flawed award out there?

Jun 03, 2010 11:37 AM
 
jballen4eva

Do you think that some of the Phillies' recent woes have anything to do with the team getting older? Happ is young, but Polanco and Rollins aren't. To what extent, if any, do you think general wear and tear may be a factor?

Jun 03, 2010 10:28 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

This is a team that has Jamie Moyer (47) and Jose Contreras (39-ish) on one side and Antonio Bastardo (24) and Kyle Kendrick (25) on the other. I don't think we can read anything into age.

Jun 03, 2010 11:36 AM
 
buffum
(458)

Can't really see how Reyes' return opens up a trade opportunity for the Tribe unless they trade four or five starters, but it's nice to see he isn't Scott Lewis.

Jun 03, 2010 11:45 AM
rating: 1
 
AlexMcCrum

I'd say the difference between Junior and Reggie is the (mostly) off-field difference. Reggie Jackson was just another great Yankee, while Junior was Seattle's first baseball superstar. Reggie was a World Series hero; Junior is (arguably) the main reason why the Mariners are still in Seattle. If Hall of Fame selection is based on overall importance to the game, I'd say there's a pretty big difference between Griffey and Jackson--I mean, in how many states is Reggie Jackson baseball's most popular player ever? I'd be willing to bet Junior is everywhere in the Pacific Northwest.

But yeah, all of this was decided and set in stone before he went to Cincinatti and spend his 30s injured. And yeah, his numbers are a bit more "Reggie Jackson" than "best player ever." And even though I own a Griffey jersey, I'll agree his defence was overrated.

But sometimes it's more than numbers that make a players HoF case. And, every once in a while, that case is actually valid.

Jun 03, 2010 12:43 PM
rating: 5
 
Dr. Dave

The problem with anonymous sources is that there's no way for a reader to distinguish between "authoritative insider", "clueless insider", and "fictitious insider". Or, indeed, "someone grinding an axe without fear of reprisal".

If all journalists were perfectly ethical, scrupulous, and infallible, this wouldn't be an issue. They aren't, and it is.

Jun 03, 2010 17:30 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

Good point, Dave, but I think we have to say "consider the source." Is this a writer with a track record, a guy/gal you trust? Look, we all make mistakes, get played by sources, get misdirected, etc, but if my "all but done" mistakes were the rule rather than the exception and if I didn't stand up and own my mistakes, I hope you wouldn't trust me.

Jun 03, 2010 19:53 PM
 
Dr. Dave

Agreed. And, given the shape of the media today, it is becoming somewhat easier for consumers of news to stay source-loyal rather than brand-loyal, which is a good thing. Reputation should matter.

But when the byline doesn't have a name on it, or it's a name you don't know...

Jun 04, 2010 15:16 PM
rating: 0
 
srhoads629

BREAKING: fan says irrational thing.

Why this merits reporting is beyond me, but I would imagine it has to do with some general distaste for Yankees fans and their expectations. Regardless, I don't subscribe to BP to read stuff like that, be it about the Yankees, the Red Sox, or any other team. No fanbase has a monopoly on stupid and no fanbase is statistically more irrational than any other; singling them out is just a waste of everyone's time and just a bit insulting.

Jun 04, 2010 07:11 AM
rating: -1
 
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