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September 10, 2003

Under The Knife

Monkey Gone to Heaven

by Will Carroll

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When in doubt, I know I have three things that always go in my favor. First, I have the crew at BP. Even when they're working on their own incredible stuff, each member is always just a phone call or an email away. Second, I have my team of sources and advisors. Though recent events have shaken some of the weaker sources into clamming up (for now), I still have one of the best phone books in the biz. Finally, and most importantly, I have you, the subscribers. From asking for help getting velocity, to technical assistance, to the most intelligent emails, I'm always happy to look in my Inbox and find new stuff from you.

Now, I'm asking you for some more suggestions on how to turn UTK into something you want to read in the off-season. What would you like to see? Those of you that made the journey with me from UTK 1.0 last year know that the off-season is...well, pretty dry when it comes to injury info. So please send in your suggestions. Those of you that have gotten to know me in person at Feeds, through email, or vicariously through this column know that I don't sleep, so please, keep me working through the (literally) dark days of the winter. Yes, first priority is getting the Velocity Project in some sort of presentable form and I have a big date circled for late November, but everything else...once again, I'm counting on you.

Powered by Warren Zevon in my iTunes, on to the injuries...

  • The email subject said it all: "Tommy Foppert." All too often, I get an email from a friend in Alabama letting me know that another pitcher is heading under the knife, swapping in a tendon for a shredded elbow ligament, and wasting a year of who-knows-what-might-have-been in baseball. Jesse Foppert has been an open question all year, coming in with glowing reports and radar gun rumors, yet rarely topping 90 mph with his fastball. I discounted most talk, content that the Giants had pumped up his numbers, as most organizations do, but in the course of his return--the arm, likely already damaged--gave way. He'll miss most, if not all, of 2004. The Giants get Dustin Hermanson off the DL to pick up any starts that Foppert may have expected.

  • The most popular email of the day was "So, what was the velocity on Roy Oswalt?" Sadly, most volunteers aren't using Wi-Fi from the ballpark, so I don't often get the numbers until well past deadline. Oswalt, in fact, was near his normal velocities, reaching the mid-90s in the first inning, but dramatically tailing off. The drop--from an established 93 to an 86--is more than simple fatigue due to lack of conditioning, and the constant adjustments he made to his mechanics were hard to watch. Points for gutting it out to Oswalt, but this is one of those things like watching Ralphie walk in a room during "The Sopranos." For more on Oswalt's start, the excellent coverage at the Houston Chronicle doesn't let us down.

  • The D'backs have survived largely without Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson performing near their usual Cy Young-caliber levels this season. But being forced to plan around either pitcher missing more starts could be the death blow for a team that has done something I've never seen before: rebuild themselves in May and June, completely turning over a team from old to young. Schilling may miss another start this week with a sore groin.

  • Jim Edmonds is back in the Cardinals lineup, but looked to be limping slightly. More sources confirmed my long-distance diagnosis of bursitis--a notion that is confirmed by the fact that Edmonds' recovery curve is in perfect alignment with the normal healing period for bursitis. Edmonds, like many of the Cardinals, will be ridden hard down the stretch. In the words of Warren Zevon, "I'll sleep when I'm dead."

  • Make or break? Do or die? I'm sure there's an appropriate Crash Davis cliché for the batting practice session that David Bell is facing. The Phillies will watch Bell take BP and then make a decision: will they activate him later this week or shut him down? While Bell has hardly been the good luck charm the Phillies expected, I don't understand the ultimatum--let alone most of the moves the Phils have made down the stretch. My guess on Bell is that he's done, but I also don't see why a decision has to be made right this very second. Until the team is done, why not try and get back a player you think could contribute--unless there's something more going on that isn't leaked out yet.

  • As the Twins fight the White Sox, pitcher Eric Milton is fighting for a slot in the rotation. While word from the Twins has him headed to long relief, Milton thinks that he has sufficient stamina to go right into the starter's role. Given the options, Milton might be right, but Gardenhire sounds adamant about needing someone in the pen he can rely on. I guess having to start that darned Johan Santana and his effective stuff just puts a kink in Gardy's Platonic pen.

  • I'm not sure what to say about the Reds at this point. On one hand, so many injuries has to be chalked up to more than just bad luck, but on the other hand, shutting down Paul Wilson and Danny Graves were smart moves, simply because there's so little to be gained by throwing them back out there in the last month of a lost season. With most of the team gone, there's little value in bringing back Adam Dunn as well, despite getting the hard cast removed from his injured hand. Aaron Harang is another player I'm not sure needs to be out there, aside from the fact that they're required to field some sort of baseball team. I was completely, totally, unabashedly wrong about the Reds this year--but this is a team that could be right in the mix next year, given that the same amount goes right for them as went wrong in 2003.

  • Quick Cuts: The ankle sprain suffered by Jose Contreras is minor and he shouldn't miss his next start...How did I miss the Shawn Green injury that the Dodgers "hid" all season? I'm guessing they didn't know until a couple weeks ago either...David Eckstein should be back at shortstop for the Angels, starting Wednesday. Watch him closely for more signs of back problems...What does Mike Piazza do next year if he still hasn't broken the catcher home run record?...Tim Spooneybarger, as expected, did have Tommy John surgery on Tuesday.

Be sure to sign up soon for the Toronto Pizza Feed. I'll also have more info regarding another Feed and a speaking engagement soon, perhaps on Saturday during BPR--hint, hint.

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