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June 11, 2003

Under The Knife

Mussina Murmurs

by Will Carroll

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While I sit here and watch the A's-Braves game and download the new Guster off of iTunes, I find myself watching each team closely, looking to see how two of the best organizations in the game built teams so differently yet have come up with similar results. (And doesn't Marcus Giles seem like a guy that Billy Beane would have wanted? "Hey John, that short guy you have at second? He's never going to be able to play. I need someone to play down in Sacramento and I hear you need someone like Olmedo Saenz...")

  • Some have noted that Mike Mussina appears to be running into trouble in the fifth or sixth innings and have asked if the Velocity Project is showing anything. The answer is no. It appears more that as he begins to tire, he throws more strikes and becomes more hittable. More hittable is bad, no matter what theory you believe in. Is it an indicator of an injury? No, I don't think so. I'm less sure that it's not simple aging. Ask me the same question about Al Leiter and you'll get a similar answer.

  • After noticing a lack of muscle tone and getting Ellis Burks to admit to both pain and numbness in his hand, a series of tests were run to try and find a cause. It turns out that his ulnar nerve was impinged and caused all the problems. It will likely need to be surgically released and could cost Burks a good portion of the remaining season. With his career near its last legs, this trip to the DL could be the one that leads off into the sunset. The Indians brought up another piece of the future, Coco Crisp, to replace Burks. Some combination of Crisp, Jody Gerut, and Milton Bradley would be one heck of a young outfield.

  • If you thought Jermaine Dye still didn't look right, you're right. His knee is still acting up and needed draining tonight between BP and the game. It's the legs that drain power when they're injured, so don't expect Dye to look like the masher he has been until he fully recovers the strength in his legs. Even with that bad wheel, Dye was able to make some nice defensive plays behind Tim Hudson.

  • When a team tries to keep itself together, it has to take the good with the bad. I'm not sure that Joe Girardi is much of a downgrade on Chris Widger, but it's clear Girardi's not going to make the team appreciably better. It's just as unclear what Jason Isringhausen will do for the Cards. I guess if there's more to the psychological, clubhouse effect of getting back a closer--roughly equivalent to the notion that finding that shiny penny you think is lucky--it improves them. Having a pitcher that won't be available every day, that will have serious limitations and reduced velocity really doesn't sound like an upgrade, even for a team that doesn't have many other options. Of course if Cal Eldred can save games, doesn't Walt Jocketty realize anyone can?

  • Casey Fossum got some good news, if going on the DL is ever good news. An examination by Red Sox physicians confirmed that his ailment is merely tendinitis and he'll be better with rest and anti-inflammatories. Fossum will likely go on the DL tomorrow when Pedro Martinez is activated to make a start. Martinez will be on a strict 45-50 pitch count. Some Pedro is better than no Pedro. Here's the question: if Pedro is on a pitch count like this, will the team he's facing--in this case the Cards--take more pitches, try to foul off more balls, or otherwise try to get him out of the lineup as quickly as possible? I'd fine anyone who swung at a first pitch.

  • The news could have been much worse for Miguel Asencio. Instead of Tommy John surgery as feared, he'll need only a cleanup of bone spurs in the lateral aspect of his pitching elbow. The recovery period for this is normally around six-to-eight weeks, but the Royals will be quite conservative with their young former Rule 5 pick. On blister-watch, Jeremy Affeldt will miss a start, will not move to the bullpen, and is not engaged to Jennifer Lopez.

  • Let's close out the good news for bad wings section with Tribe hurler Ricardo Rodriguez. An MRI confirmed the diagnosis of strained triceps and he may avoid the DL, though the Indians leave the possibility open to a retro move. Rodriguez didn't let the team know that he'd been pitching with tightness for a couple starts, but said something once there was pain. I'm not sure whether he gets the lecture.

  • During his days with the Braves, Damian Moss had problems with the circulation in his shoulder, which may or may not have had something to do with his smokeless tobacco habit. His current dead arm has nothing to do with that. As far as dead arm goes, someone in baseball asked me today, "how do you tell the difference between dead arm and someone who just throws the ball 85?" Darn good question.

  • Quick cuts: Tino Martinez left tonight's Cards game with a strained hamstring. No news at deadline on severity...Rey Sanchez heads to the DL finally on a retro due to a bad haircut. Oops, I mean a bad thumb. Jose Reyes will fill in, but the Mets insist Reyes will head back down once Sanchez returns...Pedro Astacio underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff. A best-case scenario is a 2004 return...How does Jung Bong not have a nickname? Let's all start calling him "Cheech"...Ray Durham missed a game with "tired legs." That's a novel one...Juan Gonzalez missed last night's game with a sore, slightly swollen elbow. It is not considered serious at this point...Jose Rijo may retire. Barry Larkin should take a hint from his teammate.

Back tomorrow...

Related Content:  Dead-arm Period,  Dead Arm Period

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