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March 18, 2003

Under The Knife

Pizza Feeds and Painful Pelvic Problems

by Will Carroll

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Another weekend, another Pizza Feed. I was back in Chicago with Jonah "Mr. Energy" Keri and Nate Silver for some pizza, some baseball, and some trying to figure out where to park. Special thanks to Dave Kirsch for helping with the groundwork. Two interesting ideas were tossed out that I'll pass on. First, do you need a BP Author to have a Feed? Maybe not. I'd love to see some "unofficial" Feeds where people get together to talk BP, baseball, and meet likeminded individuals. Heck, it's fun and good networking for those of you who have day jobs. Second, I'm working on a couple pieces based on reader ideas, so whoever talked to me about Odalis Perez needs to get me that research!

Jonah, Nate and I went out to Tout Wars on Sunday and came away with a great team. Having never been a roto player before, I had almost no idea how it would go. I'll leave the details to Jonah and Nate's piece coming up later this week, but this should be a darned interesting team to watch. The draft itself was very interesting. From watching acknowledged roto master Ron Shandler consistently get players below the dollar value we expected to seeing bidding wars on players we had no interest in to seeing guys with injuries I've written about go for more than we expected, it was never boring. Special thanks to those who ran it.

  • I've figured it out. If any team needs to hire me--and my email is below, Mr. Loria--it's the Marlins. I want the fancy title of Special Assistant for Clue Giving. I will be forced to work eighteen hour days to give a sufficient number of clues, but I promise to start with Brad Arnsberg, the current pitching coach. Arnsberg is one of those people who needs to tinker. This is only mildly annoying for weekend carpenters or those people that put way too much effort into their lawn, but in a pitching coach, it's a disaster waiting to happen. Add in the lack of maturity of his charges and bad things happen. A.J. Burnett seems to be a regular tinkering target. This season's adjustment was a three quarters delivery and the result is an inflamed elbow. While this injury is looking very similar to that suffered by Brandon Duckworth, Burnett is being sent to Birmingham for a quick check with Jim Andrews.

  • Mike Lieberthal was able to catch four innings today while dealing with a painful pelvic problem (P cubed?). It looks like the (gulp) injection he had may have worked, but the true test will be tomorrow when Lieberthal wakes up and sees if he's able to head back out to the field. In the words of great trainer Charlie Strasser, "Hell, anyone can do it once. I'll see you tomorrow."

  • Whispers from America's Dairyland have Alex Sanchez limping around with that injured ankle. Is Sanchez rushing back? The signs point to yes. Even if he manages to stay healthy, don't count on him being able to run like he did and a slow Sanchez is... well, Doug Glanville without the personality.

  • Ben Broussard couldn't afford to fall behind Travis Hafner for any reason and even a mild oblique strain may have pushed him out of the picture. Both Broussard and Hafner have torn the cover off the ball and should be in the 1B/DH mix for years to come in Cleveland.

  • In what could be addition by subtraction, Chris Singleton may miss the opening games in Japan with a hamstring strain. While Singleton isn't completely ruled out, the hard turf in Japan means that the A's are likely to hold Singleton out and let Terrence Long move over to CF while Adam Piatt slides into LF. Most of Singleton's value is in his defense and speed, so any hamstring worries have to worry the A's. Wonder if the Royals would like an 'unsignable' MVP shortstop for Carlos Beltran?

  • It sounds like nothing, but a simple ear infection may keep Kerry Wood from being an Opening Day starter. This probably means nothing in the long term, but it seems important to some players. Wood's balance has been affected and he's behind in his preperation for the season. Expect him to have some stamina issues through April. If Wood, Mark Prior, or Matt Clement come up injured this year, I'm blaming al-Qaeda.

  • Bobby Kielty keeps getting injured and his hopes for more at-bats keep getting smaller. In a crowded outfield, an injury - or worse, being tagged as injury prone - can be the difference. Kielty is probably behind Michael Cuddyer and there are several other players in the mix for time.

  • The Expos bullpen is getting healthier with returns from Scott Stewart and Joey Eischen. Neither of those names will carry a team to a Series or even to a winning record, but lack of depth makes the loss of even an average player a significant loss. The Expos are being cautious with both players, knowing that they'd have to scan the waiver wire closely to find their replacements.

    The Expos, oddly, are pretty deep through the rotation, but losing Orlando Hernandez wouldn't help. They can afford to be conservative and Ron McClain has a great history with keeping pitchers healthy. El Duque has a case of shoulder tendonitis and the team will monitor his condition. I'm always amazed when teams like the Expos get MRIs quickly while teams like the White Sox seem to want to see the ligament hanging out of someone's arm before ordering tests.

  • One of my favorite breakout candidates is Aramis Ramirez. He played hurt all last season after one of his own teammates cranked his ankle in a brawlpile and Lloyd McClendon kept sending him out there. This weekend taught me never to doubt PECOTA, but I think the Paul Konerko comp is the one closest to my own observations. Ramirez is doing his best to make me look bad with the pick. He's managed to have dings all spring long with a bum hammy the latest in the long line. He would be available to play, but the team is being conservative in spring training so far.

  • As expected, the elbow surgery didn't keep Austin Kearns down long. Kearns - part of what I'm calling the Great American Outfield - is already swinging a bat and may take batting practice by mid-week. Note that in all published reports there's no mention of him running. That's a very good sign.

  • UTK reader and Soxblogger Andrew Ritchie has been forcing me to keep up with Danny Wright over the last few weeks and I think the Sox are getting sick of me calling. Wright's MRI was reviewed by an "arm specialist" - anyone want to guess who that is? - and the Sox are willing to risk a replacement level starter's arm rather than send him under the knife. While bone chips are minor in the worst cases, they are not necessarily symptomatic. Wright will be a risk until at least the end of the season ... or at least the end of his.

  • It seems like every SUN pitcher in the NL is hurt and most are behind schedule. Only Robb Nen appears ready to go on Opening Day, though Jason Isringhausen is beginning to look like he might sneak in. Nen threw a simulated game - I wonder how long that is for a closer - and may see some game action by the weekend. I still think Dus... I mean, Felipe Alou will use Felix Rodriguez and Tim Worrell more in the early portion of the season.

  • Rotowire's Gus Papadopoulos notes that J.T. Snow has a history of gastroenteritis. Some research shows that it appears to run in the family, with his football playing father Jack also suffering from the condition. It's still being listed by the Giants as "flu-like symptoms" but it's worth keeping an eye on. Last time, Snow missed a full fifteen day stint.

  • Both Chipper Jones and Ray Durham are dealing with sore middle fingers. Neither is a long term concern and I'll avoid the obvious jokes. Feel free to make your own, however.

  • A quick note... yes, I really read a lot of Internet sites. My favorite new one is Bronx Banter, run by a guy who worked on not one but two of my favorite movies - and I love seeing who follows my information. Please, however, make sure to credit me with something similar to "Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus" and supply a link. Heck, if you really want to make my day, send me a link so I can read your stuff. I always need good new reading material and you never know where you'll find the next, well, Will Carroll.
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