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May 27, 2005

Under The Knife

Was It Worth It?

by Will Carroll

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When asked what the best thing about working at BP is, I usually say the commute. In reality it's the access to the best minds in baseball. Reader K.B. wrote in with this: "It absolutely kills me that the LA/OC/Anaheim media didn't get on Scioscia more for sending Vladimir Guerrero all the way from first when they had a 4-0 and thus, resulting in is injury that is going to sideline him for another 2-3 weeks. Of course some journalist questioned that call, to which Scioscia replied something like, 'If I had to do again, I would send him every time.' I am not even sure I know what that means but honestly, let's have a little bit more accountability. Anyone have any numbers on how many runs the Angels can expect to not get now as a result of this injury? Was the ONE RUN with a 4-0 lead really worth it?"

Tom Gorman did some amazing research that answers this common "How screwed are we?" question and others like it. For this one, Tom's system tells us that, no, the one run was certainly not worth it in isolation. While there were certainly other factors and no one has a slide rule in the third-base coaching box, we can look at this objectively. Assuming that Guerrero comes back at the 15-game minimum, the Angels stand to lose 4.77 runs. That's the difference between Guerrero's .276 expected runs per game and the -0.042 that Juan Rivera would be expected to contribute per game, plus some technical adjustments. So, a DL stint for an elite-level player with a near average player like Rivera is worth about a half game in the standings. Knowing that kind of information is exceptionally valuable, both to medheads and to front offices.

Powered by the research of guys that don't get nearly enough credit, on to the injuries:

  • Erik Bedard has something in common with Eric Gagne. It's not goggles, a power change with a funny grip, or that ridiculous John Cleese accent. No, Bedard also has a strained MCL. The Orioles placed Bedard on the DL to keep his TJ-style elbow from developing any problems due to mechanical changes. Bedard's grade II strain should take only the minimum, maybe a bit more, plus a brace and the close eye of Ray Miller to come back effective.

  • The Angels are tossing a grenade out on the mound every time they let Kelvim Escobar pitch. Sure, that could be said about most pitchers, but for Escobar, he's pitching with a bone spur that's already significant enough to cause problems in the elbow. It will need surgery, a procedure everyone hopes will wait until the off-season. Baseball is all about the calculated risk. For Escobar's sake, let's hope his elbow doesn't crap out.

  • It didn't take long for the Indians to put Kevin Millwood on the DL with a groin strain. While a solid timetable for him isn't yet available, the Tribe had options such as Brian Tallet available to them. Millwood was scheduled for an MRI on Thursday, but it was the surplus of long, close games that made Tallet the choice. He's coming back from Tommy John and can start or relieve. The bullpen is very worn down and having a fresh arm will help it recover. Millwood has pitched well despite 1-4 record, so his return is key to the Indians' comeback hopes.

  • If I believed that a labrum tear was a singular event, I could say that I saw Jon Rauch tear his. Sadly, this is the second such problem for the big right-hander. He pitched reasonably well in Wednesday's blowout loss to Cincinnati and it was Zach Day that had a pair of trainer visits on the mound. Rauch showed no signs of problems on the mound and didn't seem distressed when he left. He's done for the year, at least, and could face more surgery. Add in the wrist injury of John Patterson and a demotion for Day and it's a rough time to be a Nats pitcher. Quick note on Day, who was a sacrificial lamb left out to soak some innings on Wednesday. He did a lot of off-season work and was a candidate to break out. Instead, his delivery looks completely altered and his ball had little movement. Either he's injured or someone tinkered with the wrong thing in his delivery.

  • The Tigers got some good news when Troy Percival was cleared to throw from a mound this weekend. That's a big step and shows that the rest of the past couple weeks has done something positive for the flexor tendon injury. While Percival continues to tell people that he'll be back after only four weeks out, that looks optimistic. It's more likely that he'll need at least a brief stint in the minors to get himself back on track, meaning he's still two weeks away on the inside.

  • I'm not sure how to take it when a player says it will take a couple weeks to get healthy, but that he'll play before then. For me, Carlos Beltran is putting himself and his team at risk if he's putting himself in position for re-injury or worse, an exacerbation of the quad strain. Then again, I know Ray Ramirez, the Mets trainer, wouldn't let Beltran put himself out there if he thought it was too risky. Trust and communication are two of the best tools a trainer has in his bag.

  • You can't accuse the White Sox of coddling. Frank Thomas, likely the best player in White Sox history, called the team to tell them he was ready. Instead of sending him a plane ticket, GM Kenny Williams will travel down to Charlotte to see Thomas play this weekend. There's been no sign of any problem during the rehab stint, so expect Thomas back with the first place Sox by Monday. You also should expect the foot/ankle problem to crop up from time to time, so let's hope that Ozzie Guillen will spot Thomas well and not think time off is the sign of an attitude problem. (If I could pick one bench to sit on and watch a manager do his job, it'd be the White Sox. No team intrigues me as much this year.)

  • Quick Cuts: While Oliver Perez had his second consecutive start with improvement, Odalis Perez is just waiting for the anti-inflammatories and rest to get his shoulder ready to get him back on the mound. There's no structural damage Wily Mo Pena? He'll be in Louisville for a rehab assignment. Too bad Rob Stratton is out for the year. That would have been Dave Pease's dream outfield, I think I never thought I'd hear a book review like this one. Chin-Hui Tsao had surgery on Wednesday to repair the torn labrum and some associated damage in the rotator cuff. The target for a return is May '06. Plan accordingly Brian Anderson will have his season come down to a visit with Lewis Yocum. Rest hasn't healed his sore pitching elbow.

It's Indy 500 weekend in Indy. Tomorrow's Carb Day, the big Indianapolis party, and I'll be at the track too. On Saturday, the track goes quiet so that everyone can listen to BP Radio. Guests B.J. Upton and Eric Karabell are definitely worth hearing. Listen in, then go watch a game.

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