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May 25, 2004

Under The Knife

Finding the Answers

by Will Carroll

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It was about 3 p.m. today when I got an interesting question in an e-mail. A sportswriter e-mailed me asking about Aaron Boone and what a certain team would have to do to sign him. As I went through it, I realized that Boone would have to be signed, then immediately placed on the DL, forcing a 40-man roster move. What if he went on the 60-day immediately, he asked in response.

Once again, it sunk in that the man I would normally turn to, Doug Pappas, was not here to answer my question. When I see the memorials across the Web, I realize just how wonderful he was. It's odd to lose someone you never met, to feel loss over someone you never knew, but I do. At some point, I'll be able to think about things like this without tears in my eyes, but I don't think I'll ever stop wishing that Doug was there to answer my questions, as only he could. It's up to us now to answer--and ask--the questions that he'd normally ask and answer. In this case, a roster move would have to be made in either case, though the 60-day route is unlikely. Boone is on track to sign with a team soon and is expected to be in the minors by mid-July.

Last season, after the death of Steve Bechler, I wrote an article about heat illnesses and the dangers. It was one of the first articles I wrote for BP, but I haven't touched much on heat illness since then. As we've now seen on more than one occasion, heat illness is dangerous and even the smartest, best-prepared of us can fall victim to its effects. Education is our only defense.

So, powered by the spirit of a friend, on to more injuries...

  • With all the injuries the Angels have been dealing with, the one that's perhaps the most concerning to them is that of Bartolo Colon's mysterious loss of velocity. Colon's apparent lack of fitness has never deterred him from being an ace-level starter and one of an elite few that actually gain velocity as the game goes on. Like Mark Prior and Livan Hernandez, Colon doesn't throw with full effort on every pitch, something often done in previous eras. However, over the last few starts, Colon has started around 90 mph--and then gone down. Velocity loss is a measure of fatigue in the best case and an omen of shoulder injury in the worst, so the Angels are watching him closely. You should as well.

  • There are some pained e-mails from Cubs fans determined to "prove" that the Cubs are lying about Kerry Wood. Why would he have a good result from the bone scan, then have it released that he'd be out another two weeks? Simply put, there are two things going on here. The Cubs realize they botched the public relations part of the Mark Prior injury, so they're trending toward to the cautious. They're also being more cautious with their two aces' arms, perhaps realizing that it's not worth the risk, and saves innings they could need even more in October. The results they've had with the rest of the staff and the current standings give them the luxury to be conservative.

  • The Phillies got Billy Wagner from the Astros to demonstrate they want to "win now." The Phils may be trying to win now, but for the next few weeks, they'll do it without Wagner. After a recent setback, Wagner has decided to shut himself down for a couple weeks, meaning that it will be mid-June at best before he'd be ready to return. No word on if this decision was made in consultation with the Phillies' staff, so this situation could be extremely fluid.

  • Jays first baseman Carlos Delgado left Monday's game after a play at second base. Called a "jammed knee" at deadline, I'm hoping for a real diagnosis early Tuesday. Delgado has a history of knee problems and plays on turf, so it's concerning. Delgado doesn't rely much on speed and if necessary could be slotted at DH while healing. With Delgado unlikely to return to Toronto without a significant pay cut, any time lost to injury could be used to audition Josh Phelps in Delgado's current role at first base.

  • The Marlins' depth took a bit of a hit as Wil Cordero headed to the DL for a set of knee surgeries. He'll have one knee done later this week and two weeks later will have the other done. Why not both at once? Simple: He couldn't get around nearly as well, and the delay between surgeries doesn't significantly affect his timetable for return. Cordero has been playing first in a pseudo-platoon with Hee Seop Choi, so expect extra plate appearances for the three-true-outcomes-tastic Korean slugger. Jeff Conine may get some time at first as well.

  • Quick Cuts: Dave Roberts is nearly ready to head out on a short rehab stint before rejoining the Dodgers...Why are the Cubs watching Freddy Garcia? One word: Three-way. That is one word, isn't it?...Wes Helms is out for the next couple months after an off-field injury led to knee surgery...Frank Catalanotto may still head to the DL with a groin strain. If so, Alexis Rios is not considered an option...Placido Polanco will need a rehab assignment, a change in plans...Tony Armas will have one more rehab start this week, then rejoin the Expos...Paul Shuey is close to ready for a rehab assignment. Sure, the Dodgers really need more bullpen help.

I'm excited to be interviewing David Halberstam on Tuesday. He'll be one of my guests on Baseball Prospectus Radio this week, along with Steven Goldman. And yes, we'll get the archives of BPR up to date soon. It's my fighting with FTP software that's the delay. Back tomorrow.

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