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August 3, 2004

Under The Knife

Anniversary Edition

by Will Carroll

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The trade deadline-a real misnomer this season-provides an artificial checkpoint in the baseball season. It's a place where we can look at the races wait, there's not much to look at. Without Bud Selig's wild card, we'd have two months of prepping rotations, resting the position players and building for 2005. Four of six divisions have been decided. Sure, I had fun talking on the radio about the good and the bad, the winners and the losers, but I'm ready to see what happens on the field. The parity might be overrated, but the party's just getting started. In my neck of the woods, anything can happen. Just ask Scott Rolen, Luis Gonzalez, or the Cubs' starting pitchers from last year: in the playoffs, health is everything.

On to the injuries

  • I'd hoped to just avoid this topic, but there were too many e-mails on it. There are plenty of media reports that Nomar Garciaparra had indicated to the Red Sox that he would need to go on the disabled list for an extended period, but that when trade talks developed with the Cubs, his agent back-channelled that Garciaparra's heel felt fine.

    Through the tallest source I've ever used, I can say with a high degree of certainty that there was no back-channeled info, at least no more than the normal trade discussions. Medical information was exchanged, conversations were had, and in the end, two parties conducted a transaction. Garciaparra may have been miserable and isolated in Boston, but let's stick to facts. He will need occasional rest and constant treatment, neither of which will guarantee that his heel will remain usable.

  • Trading their starting shortstop was a slight roster risk for the Red Sox, what with Pokey Reese on the DL. Mark Bellhorn getting his thumb broken was the worst-case scenario. With him heading to the DL to join his former double play/platoon partner, the Red Sox are left with few good options over the next few weeks. Orlando Cabrera may have better range than Nomar, but he can't cover both sides of the bag. With Bellhorn out for at least a month, the Red Sox will turn to Bill Mueller at second base for the next few weeks. There's some speed and leather for you.

  • Sammy Sosa was a bit dizzy from the heat, but that's as bad as it will get. Sosa said after Sunday's game that he'd had a hard time keeping food down before the game, leading to the mild dehydration and heat illness that forced him from it. I'm sure Gatorade would be glad to help Sammy.

  • Does the trade of Guillermo Mota force the Dodgers into more rational usage of Eric Gagne? With Sunday's three-inning stint for The Goggled One, we may see a more Rich Gossage/Bruce Sutter-type pattern, if not that extreme. Gagne was not converted to relief work because of a lack of stamina, but because of his stuff. Of the Dodger relievers, he's best equipped to take on additional high-leverage innings. One certainly hopes that Darren Dreifort isn't leaned on too heavily.

  • A decision will be made mid-week on Joe Mauer. The Twins are awaiting Mauer's consultation with a third physician to see if he will elect to have season-ending surgery. The upside of the surgery would be that his catching career might be extended, though I can't nail down exactly what surgery has been recommended. The downside is that Mauer would miss the remainder of the season, including the playoffs. I hope that your fantasy teams have a better Plan B than the Twins have, with Matt LeCroy and Henry Blanco forcing Terry Ryan to watch the waiver wire. Dan Wilson, anyone?

  • Mota will be thrown right into the fire in Miami. Armando Benitez will head to the DL for a week after a retro DL move, but is not expected to be out much longer than the minimum, and likely just that. Benitez has some swelling in his elbow, but no structural damage and should be ready for the stretch run. There is a chance that Mota will play the Ugueth Urbina role from 2003 and take over the closer slot.

  • While Eddie Guardado will rest his tired shoulder with a quick stint on the DL, Rafael Soriano is getting closer to a return. Closer in both senses; the M's now see Soriano as a short reliever. Guardado has no structural damage in his pitching shoulder, but he could stay on the shelf a bit longer than normal due to the team's status.

  • Rockies' pitching coach Bob Apodaca is putting the onus on his pitchers to become more efficient. For Joe Kennedy, doing so is a condition of return. With one more rehab start ahead, Kennedy is not just on a normal pitch count, he's on an pitch count for each inning. Failure to stay under the number could mean more time in the minors. Many of the things I'm hearing from Colorado indicate they haven't lost sight of the four-man rotation yet.

  • It's another line for Leo Mazzone's plaque. Chris Reitsma is crediting Mazzone's work on his mechanics for his recent run of success. Reitsma's mechanics have always been complex. Mazzone has merely reduced the moving parts. For pitching, simplicity is success.

  • Quick Cuts: Luis Gonzalez underwent successful Tommy John surgery yesterday. Dr. Michael Lee performed the surgery and it sounds like it may have been overlay Vernon Wells' calf contusion isn't related to his earlier calf problems. This latest injury shouldn't cost him any time Seth McClung is back with the Devil Rays. Listening to the Rays, they have higher expectations for McClung than anyone else does. He will relieve this season, although they see him as a starter.

Let's do "Operation Lightup" for old times sake. It's the second anniversary of the Will Carroll Baseball Hour (what? Two YEARS?) so if you have some free time from 3-4 p.m. Central, call me at 800 TALK 2 90. We'll talk some baseball, we'll drink some beverages, and, well, what else do you need?

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