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September 5, 2003

Under The Knife

Obfuscating

by Will Carroll

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Thursday wasn't quiet for me, but it was productive. One of my producers on Baseball Prospectus Radio had been efforting Harry Kalas, the legendary voice of the Phillies. Matt Holmes woke up with a phone call from Harry--just imagine hearing that voice, first thing in the morning. If you didn't see the headline, Harry Kalas is just one big name on this week's Baseball Prospectus Radio, so definitely check it out.

  • John Smoltz is fine. That's what the Braves have told everyone, but things inside the rebuilt elbow of the Braves ubercloser aren't well enough to get back on the original schedule. Smoltz experienced pain--not soreness, but pain--in a throwing session and he'll back off and continue his treatments and medication. Expecting him back before the last week or so of the season is beginning to look fruitless. Whether he'll be rusty or rested is an unknown. The biggest problem for the Braves isn't being without him now, but once the playoffs roll around, they'll have no choice but to dance with the one that brought them.

  • One of my favorite smokescreens is describing an injury in a credible fashion while covering up the symptoms. For instance, if a player has a knee injury and is known for running into things, saying that the player has a bruised knee will probably make most people nod, jot something on their notepad and walk away. Seeing Jim Edmonds limp in a pinch-hitting appearance on Wednesday sent me back to the phones where I discovered that Edmonds knee, while bruised, is also dealing with prepatellar bursitis. For more info on this condition, check out this link from the fine folks that produced our own Rany Jazayerli. The condition, while more serious than a simple contusion, shouldn't keep Edmonds out for an extended period. I still hate smokescreens.

  • Firsts of anything are always intense, emotional, and awkard. First date, first kiss, first new car, and for too many pitchers, the first time throwing after Tommy John surgery all fit in this category. For A.J. Burnett, he's not only having to watch his team spread Fish Fever all over Florida, but he's only now able to throw. A half-distance catch session with the Marlins pitching coach doesn't sound like much, but for Burnett, it's a big step. Like most TJS pitchers, I expect Burnett to make a full comeback. For the Marlins, let's just hope they've learned. To give credit where credit is due, they've made a lot of good decisions this year, from signing Ivan Rodriguez to bringing in Jack McKeon. I hope, for the sake of Miami baseball fans, that they can do for that town what the Griffey slide did for Seattle.

  • Hideo Nomo gets bonus points for admitting he was hurt, but not as many as he would have gotten had he said something when it first started hurting. The Dodgers on the other hand are...well, I don't want to say that word. We'll say obfuscating, how's that? Calling inflammation of his rotator cuff the result of fatigue is...what's the word? Crap. Pure crap. Inflammation comes from irritation and overuse. While fatigue might have something to do with poor mechanics, calling it the cause is insulting to medheads. Frank Jobe's legacy deserves better than the current problems in the Dodgers training room.

  • Sixty-three. Sixty-four. Sixty-five. Sixty-six. Sixty-seven. At last count, 67 of you kind souls let me know that Derek Jeter would be out this weekend with a strained oblique. He'll miss the Red Sox series. Allow me to refresh your short-term memories--look at what I said on Wednesday regarding Jeter. Good thing they signed Luis Sojo, eh?

  • If you're avoiding watching the Tigers, you're missing out on some interesting baseball. Among the more interesting parts is Danny Patterson, a former Ranger that came over in the Juan Gonzalez deal and has been injured seemingly ever since. Patterson has picked up some saves, but he's been phenomenal out of the bullpen since returning. He's definitely one of those guys you want to have in any pen or if you're looking at names at the end of your 2004 fantasy draft, Patterson's isn't a bad name to call out.

  • Let me get this straight: A team with a rotation that includes an opening day starter who missed half the season and then has TJS, a former Rule 5er, an old guy that was dropped because of bad attitude and injury, and Jose Lima is still in contention? Now they're going to add in Jamey Wright and think they're getting better down the stretch? If you'd told me this in May, I wouldn't have believed it. I still don't.

  • Kurt Ainsworth has had several bullpen sessions for the Orioles and hasn't had any problems as they've increased his pitches through them. While he may come available sometime next week, I hope that the internal debate in Baltimore comes out on the side of caution and gives him maybe one start, two max on strict pitch counts. I realize they need to show off something they got for Sidney Ponson, but nothing they do in September will help them win in 2004. A healthy Ainsworth should.

  • Please, I'm begging. Quit asking me if Jose Mesa is hurt. I must have ten emails in the last hour wondering if it's tendinitis or his elbow. Sometimes, pitchers just suck. While injuries happen every day--kindly keeping me knee deep in material--they don't always happen to the player that's crushing the hopes of your team while the manager sits idly by, taunting some of his players.

  • Quick update on the Mark Mulder/Britt Burns comparison from yesterday's UTK. After Bryan Smith gave me the interesting comps, I asked the Comp-Fu Master, Nate Silver, to see what his omniscient laptop thought of it. (Why doesn't that laptop have a cool acronym? Someone suggest one!) The PECOTA similarity score is just a 10, which--as I'm sure you all know--is pretty low, but not meaningless. Mulder is much more comparable to Andy Pettitte, someone who's had several instances of injury problems, but never severe and never keeping him out for an extended period of time. I was scheduled to speak with Burns today, but one of the BPR interviews had to be done at the same time, so we're working to find another time.

Have a great weekend. If you're in the Indy area, check out BPR and then see if you can find me out at the Penrod Arts Festival. Damn, time to spend more money again...

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