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May 21, 2003

Under The Knife

The Piazza Edition

by Will Carroll

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I hope everyone got a chance to hear Segment One of last week's BPR, and has already heard today's section. I appreciate all the emails of support and thanks. I'm hoping we'll be able to archive future installments, but as you can tell, this one was special.

  • The injury is serious, but there's an amazing amount of wrong-headed and ignorant information out there about the injury suffered by Mike Piazza. Even the AP report that ran on ESPN.com contradicted itself. As we speculated, Piazza has an incomplete, Grade III tear of his adductor muscles, commonly known as the groin. While one or more of the muscles is torn completely and has lost structural integrity, the description of "rolling up like an accordion" isn't accurate.

    Some might remember the injury to Dean Palmer's biceps when the muscle did, in fact, retract. Had the muscle retracted, Piazza would be recovering from surgery about now. Where the serious concern is for Piazza going forward is what I'll term the Ken Griffey Effect; will this injury be the beginning of a cycle that causes a major reduction in value?

    If I knew this for certain I'd be the GM of a team, but we can make educated guesses based on position, age, injury history. Piazza's at a point where his position tends to wear on players, but his injury history is a positive. According to PECOTA, Piazza's attrition and decline rates are more-or-less inconclusive--yes, they progress, but that's to be expected for any catcher in his mid-30s. It's the comp of Johnny Bench that strikes me. At this age, Bench was barely hanging on to league-average status and just a year away from calling it a career.

    With Piazza's lifestyle, economic situation, and Q rating, all he lacks is a championship. He's a sure Baseball Immortal, but we could be seeing the last of Mike Piazza. I hate to bring this up, but Piazza's contract is insured.

  • It caught me off guard today when I heard that Pedro Martinez would not be starting against the Yankees. I was still on the air with the Will Carroll Baseball Hour (every Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. on ESPN 950 in Indy) when the announcement popped up on ESPNews. During the break, I dialed up my favorite Boston source and got the scoop. Pedro has a muscle strain of his latissmus dorsi which was serious enough to keep him out of the start and take an MRI. Early thought is that Pedro will miss one start, but the results of the MRI will be everything. The Sox will take every precaution with their ace, but this also calls into question the efficacy of signing an already fragile (but great) pitcher long term. For once, I'm glad I'm not Theo--that's a decision I would not want to make.

  • I'm sure we'll hear about this on Saturday's BPR but for right now, Royals fans have to be a bit worried. Runelvys Hernandez was pushed back from his scheduled start due to soreness in his elbow. The move was reported to be precautionary, but just as Jeremy Affeldt returns, losing Hernandez wouldn't be ideal. Staggering injuries isn't so bad, especially with some reasonable depth in the rotation--but losing Hernandez to a DL stint could be crushing. KC is smart to be cautious.

  • Remember what I said about Mark Kotsay? Ignore it. Kotsay's back is progressively getting worse. The condition is a protruding L5 disc (spine, about where it meets your hips) which is causing not only pain in that area, but some leg weakness. The probable next step will be epidural steroid injections. Compare this to Ivan Rodriguez last year. It matches up in severity, timetable for return, and potential for full recovery.

  • "Pink eye? What is this, an episode of South Park?" Sometimes having Jonah Keri around is just priceless. Jonah's mancrush on Brad Wilkerson hit a rough patch, though, as Wilkerson missed a game on Tuesday. There's some speculation that it's not just an infection, but that Wilkerson is still fighting with his shoulder. Pink eye's enough to keep him out, but longer term, the shoulder is the bigger worry. Pink eye...it isn't funny, it just sounds funny.

  • Geoff Blum was hospitalized with nausea and powerful headaches. There's no news beyond that, but with anything like this, we'll hope its nothing serious. Blum's been a good platoon with Morgan Ensberg, so even if he misses some time, the Astros should be okay. Even in the best-case, Blum will likely miss a couple days.

  • Quick Cuts: Steve Karsay underwent surgery Tuesday morning and is expected to be out for the year. It was a partial tear of his rotator cuff and it was done with an arthroscope. We should see Steve in 2004...I haven't yet seen the video at "press time" of Marcus Giles bashing a foul ball off his leg--we're following it...Adam Eaton was activated and pitched like someone just off the DL. He lacked some command, went about as far as you'd like to see him go, and did what you want--showed up, showed some skill, and didn't hurt himself...At what point do we say that Greg Maddux is losing it? It's not a physical infirmity, but something's clearly not right. Some might argue DIPS, but you all know my feelings on that theory, so I'll just postulate that whatever edge that Maddux has had all this time is slipping, slowly. Be aware of it.

Anyone in the Louisville or St. Louis area should get ready...Pizza Feeds are headed your way in June. I'm back tomorrow, like it or not. (Oh, this entire column was written from my couch. How cool is Wi-Fi?)

R.I.P. Buffy.

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