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August 20, 2003

Under The Knife

The Tipping Point

by Will Carroll

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No time for an intro tonight...too busy making calls, lots of calls, on all sorts of subjects, while squeezing in time to put together one heck of an edition of Baseball Prospectus Radio for you this week. We should have last week's edition up by some time tomorrow for your listening pleasure--or as one reader told me, he listens while running. See, BPR is good for your health.

So, powered by a 2001 White Merlot, onto the injuries...

  • The A's usually don't have to deal with injuries to their pitchers and as we all know, never have to deal with arm problems. In Tuesday's game, Mark Mulder left the game with a strained right hip. It's too early to tell yet how serious the injury will be and if he might miss a start or more. As I reported yesterday, I still think that Tim Hudson will be pushed back, despite signals from the A's that he'll be ready. I say this in the most respectful way, but we can't trust the A's completely when it comes to injuries. No one is better at keeping things close to the vest, but unlike most things the A's try to do, this one gives them no advantage.

  • In Tuesday's game with the A's, Derek Lowe was forced out just after Mulder. Lowe had a recurrence of blistering on his pitching thumb. Reports conflict on the location of the blister and whether it is the same area where Lowe had blisters in June. Again, I'll point out that even a small injury such as this could be the difference between the Sox making the playoffs or not. I'll be following this one closely.

  • There's only one player on the current Brewers roster that figures to be a major contributor in 2005, so protecting that player in a season that was meaningless on about May 1 makes sense. Ben Sheets left Tuesday's start with shoulder pain after just one inning. Team sources say that Sheets' mechanics have been off since his back problems in July. If Luis Martinez is healthy--an open question after he left his last Triple-A start with elbow pain--it would be a good time to get a look at him. If he's not, it's time to find some garbage men or innings eaters to close out the season rather than risk Sheets.

  • I discounted it at the time when Bartolo Colon bent over late in a start just a few weeks back, but that could have been the sign of things to come. Colon has been rocked lately, leaving pitches up, lacking velocity and command, and ceding the team ace status to Mark Buehrle. As with Derek Lowe, even the slightest injury could be the tipping point for the tight AL Central, and Colon's next start will be pivotal.

  • I can't think of Melvin Mora without thinking of Jim Mora. It makes no sense, I know, but I do live in Indy and the Orioles have no shot at the playoffs either. Still, getting Melvin Mora back would certainly help, and after taking batting practice on Tuesday, Mike Hargrove sounds like he expects Mora back on Friday. This means no rehab assignment and no setbacks, but hey, why not?

  • A familiar sight for Indians fans was a nice sight, I'm sure. Omar Vizquel was out on Jacobs Field taking grounders before heading to Class-A Lake County for rehab. He should be back early next week. Vizquel is recovering slowly from knee surgery in June and managed to avoid a second surgery with aggressive treatments and rehabilitation.

  • How important can injuries be? Not only can a season be turned on them, there are times when injuries can change the course of a game. In Monday's Angels-White Sox game, Mike Scioscia was forced to leave Jarrod Washburn out a bit longer than he would have liked due to the unavailability of both Brendan Donnelly and Ben Weber. Frank Thomas approved of this decision and went long for the second time in the game, diminished skills and all. Both relievers should be available now, but that won't make the Royals or Twins feel any better about Monday's game.

  • Without stepping on Chris Kahrl or Joe Sheehan's toes, I like the Eric Young deal for the Giants. They didn't give up much, and Young gives them both depth and flexibility in addition to speed and reasonable defense. According to Stan Conte, Ray Durham is just short of 100%, but by getting Young, the Giants can give Durham additional time to get ready for the stretch drive while taking playing time away from pop-gun hitters Neifi Perez and Cody Ransom. One reason Brian Sabean usually looks so good when making trades is that he's completely informed.

  • The news on Curt Schilling was slightly different than what I expected, and leaves me scratching my head. After reporting that his knee locked up during his last start, the D-Backs said that Schilling has a "mild" case of patellar tendinitis. There are many signs and symptoms around patellar tendinitis, but the most common description by the athlete is "squeaking" or "tightness," but never locking. I'll be following this one, but in the meantime, Schilling will get more tests when the D-Backs get back to Phoenix.

  • There are rumors--and there are always rumors with the Yankees--that Jeff Weaver could be sent down to the minors. When I heard this, I laughed, then wondered: Is this possible? Could he have an option left? I went to my option rule expert, Jamey Newberg, and it's always good to have a lawyer looking at things like options rules. According to Jamey, it's possible that Weaver does have an option left, but if he has five years of service time, he could decline the option and become a free agent. Weaver will be exactly at the five-year mark at the end of the 2003 season according to BP's Doug Pappas. Why would the Yanks want to send him down? That's a question I can't answer, especially with all the injury questions everyone else on the staff has. David Wells will make his next start, but having someone close by is never a bad thing with Wells' back acting up.

  • Speaking of Newberg, even if you're not a Rangers fan, his interview with Grady Fuson is great stuff. From the medhead angle, there's a lot of info about the tandem starter system the Rangers use at Single-A, including some results I hadn't seen anywhere else. For Ranger fans, there's no better source for minor league info. For everyone else, Jamey and Mike are entertaining as heck. While we're on the Rangers, Ismael Valdes won't miss his next start unless he gets moved to another team. He left his last start with a simple but painful leg cramp.

  • Quick cuts: Jeff Cirillo is back on the roster for the Mariners and hopefully his 'injury rehab' has fixed his swing some. Enough baseball for a second--this has to be the coolest site I've ever seen, and the scariest at the same time. Did you know those killers could jump?...Rick Reed is headed to the DL with back problems. That won't help the Twins at all and Eric Milton is looking less likely to contribute as each day passes...As expected, Cliff Floyd was placed on the DL Tuesday in anticipation of upcoming surgery...Billy Koch is making progress. He'll have one more side session and head out for a rehab assignment, probably with Double-A Birmingham...A bruised wrist forced Ivan Rodriguez out early, but I don't have any more info as of deadline.

I'm a baseball guy, but I'm off to play more Madden on the GameCube. And make more phone calls.

Related Content:  Back,  Time,  Jamey Newberg,  Melvin Mora

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