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August 31, 2004

Under The Knife

A Light Day

by Will Carroll

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Is there a 12-step group for NyQuil? I'm just asking...you know, for a...a friend.

A summer cold is lingering, so a slow day in baseball helps me recover. We're getting ready for our stretch coverage and playoff coverage here at Basebal Prsopectus and at BP Radio. We'll have correspondents at games (and radio stations, we'll have those correspondents available for you as well; contact me for details.) I'm also watching how teams are setting themselves for next year. UTK is nominally an injury column, but the benefits of talking to so many people in baseball gives me information outside my niche. It's like scouting: sometimes you get fooled, but sometimes, you get great info.

For now, we'll stick to mostly injuries. On to those…

  • The Mets appear to have a fractured front office scattering like roaches in light from the Victor Zambrano trade. I'm not convinced it's a bad trade, let alone one that requires any ducking and covering. That said, the scrambling is only going to get worse if Kris Benson has a problem that pushes him out for a season. Benson will miss a start with a "fatigued shoulder." Benson has already thrown more innings in '04 than he has in any year since 2000. Match that with reduced velocity and fatigue is the best-case scenario. The Mets are usually good about catching this early, especially with Rick Peterson watching closely, so think positive thoughts, Mets fans.

    The Mets also lost another Peterson project when Mike DeJean hit the DL. DeJean has been dealing with the problem, described as "lower leg tendonitis," since mid-August, when a liner through the box struck him.

  • On the plus side, Mike Piazza was activated Monday and hit a home run. He played first base, looked to be running without a limp, and seemed to have a stable base when hitting, though I saw only the successful at-bat. At this stage in his career, Piazza is a constant injury risk, but he's still a dangerous hitter who could put up decent number in September. The downside is that the Mets still intend to test Piazza at both catcher and first base over the last month, hoping to figure out which place to place him next season.

  • The White Sox are debating placing Freddy Garcia on the DL, surprising this close to roster expansion. The decision is really moot unless the White Sox are thinking of shutting him down. He'll miss a second start on Wednesday with continued pain and tightness in his pitching forearm. The new contract and current standings would make many lean towards protecting Garcia, but Ozzie Guillen is trying to keep the team fired up through the last month, and tells the front office that he needs his close friend nearby.

  • The Astros are playing extremely well lately, despite missing Morgan Ensberg. Ensberg's back spasms started last week when he went down for a hard-hit grounder. They're reducing, so Ensberg could be back later this week. The Astros are discussing pushing Jeff Kent over to third to make space for prospect Chris Burke. Phil Garner also doesn't seem reluctant to use Mike Lamb. Ensberg's 2003 numbers are starting to look more like fluke than breakout.

  • My pal Brian Gunn of Redbird Nation called me to task for my jabs at the Cardinals' rotation. I'm an admitted Cubs fan, but try hard to stay objective and honestly, I don't hate the Cards. I may not wear my Cards jersey anymore, but that's simply because J.D. Drew moved on. I remain unconvinced about the Cards rotation, but the fact that it has been so successful is testament to Dave Duncan and Walt Jocketty. Jocketty gave Duncan what he works with best: older pitchers with talent who have had mechanical and injury problems. Chris Carpenter is one of the top stories, showing some light in the darkness of labrum statistics. You'll probably remember last August, when I was regularly unconvinced by the Florida Marlins. As far as the staff goes, they'll be better when they get Steve Kline back. He should be back when eligible on September 12th, plenty of time to let Tony La Russa see he's healthy.

  • Quick Cuts: David DeJesus left Monday's game with a neck injury. He collided with Angel Berroa early in the game. No report on how serious the injury is at this stage… Sources in Houston and Oakland tell me the Jeff Kent deal is dead. In fact, it never really got serious. Houston is unlikely to bring Kent back in '05… Ed Wade's vote of confidence for Larry Bowa won't mean much if he's the first to go. Wade is just one of several GM's thought to be pink-slipped just after the season … Take a look at Eric Chavez's splits. Some may see his numbers against lefties, but I see a lot of randomness…

I'm looking for reader opinion on a couple things. First, I'm considering adding a "trainer of the year" or "medical staff of the year" award to the post-season mix. Should I do it on a vote, like the Internet Baseball Awards, or should we do it based on some collection of objective stats which may or may not give us an accurate measures? Second, my trusty cell phone is dying and I'm shopping for a new one. I need great standby time, Bluetooth, and I like the camera, but I'm agnostic on carrier. Drop me some hints on both and I'll be back tomorrow.

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