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March 30, 2007

Under The Knife

Just Days Away

by Will Carroll

I spent half the day trying to figure out MLB options rules. I discovered Mark Prior did have to go on waivers, while learning that the rule confuses even those tasked with managing the process. I have no idea about Gary Majewski and I'm not even going to try and figure it out.

The other half was spent convincing myself that this cough I have isn't the first sign of me turning into Val Kilmer's portrayal of Doc Holliday in Tombstone. I canceled some media gigs - hacking up a lung is bad radio and worse video - and turned to a little research. I mentioned genetics in a recent chat and this article is one of the more interesting things I've seen on the practical application of biotech in sports. As we stand, just days away from the 2007 season, we have to remember that we're also on the doorstep of the future. Things we learn now will come into play a few years down the line, but we're also knocking down the first domino without knowing the full measure of what will someday happen. It's an ethical dilemma and let's face it, ethics and sports aren't always the best of friends.

Powered by leveraged ETFs, on to the injuries:

  • "Tired arm" just didn't sound right to me either. The Detroit Free Press had it first that tired arm, while accurate, wasn't the proper diagnosis for Kenny Rogers. Instead, the cause is reportedly a blood clot. The article does not indicate if the clot is in his arm, and none of my sources would confirm or deny the report. While concerning, this isn't an unheard of condition. Several pitchers, including Tom Glavine, Roberto Hernandez, and Kip Wells have dealt with similar issues with varying short and long term results. Without more information, there's no way to determine how long Rogers will be out or what the effect will be. If the clot is easily dealt with via medication, Rogers may miss as little as one or two starts. Rogers was already a risky pitcher, but one that gets results. I'm not ready to drop him heavily down the draft board because he shouldn't be much more than a mid-to-late round pick anyway.
  • The Rangers knew that Eric Gagne wasn't ready and it really came as no surprise to many that he was placed on the DL. It surprised me a little, but I can look back now and see the signs that this was coming. Gagne was allowed to pitch at his own pace, passing tests as they came rather than on some artificial schedule. While there were no setbacks to speak of, the progress didn't come at a pace that matched up with Opening Day. Instead, Gagne will stay behind in Arizona to get more work in while Aki Otsuka heads to Texas in the role he was in at the end of last season. Gagne isn't expected to be on the DL long, but he's still on no specific timetable. If you'd already factored in that he was going to share the closer role, you don't have to take much off his value with this move.
  • Things look positive for C.C. Sabathia. After a scary shot off his wrist, Sabathia is going to throw a side session on Friday. Assuming that goes well, a decision will be made on his OD start. It looks good for Sabathia right now since the pain and swelling are reduced enough for him to safely go out and throw. Sabathia is still feeling it, which is because he's human, but as long as he can get through his motion without any alteration, he'll be fine. I'm positive on the chance of him making the start, but worried about his ability to throw all his pitches effectively. We'll know a lot more at this time tomorrow, but either way, we're looking at a downside risk of only one start and perhaps just a delay of that start.
  • Don't expect to see Rafael Furcal on Opening Day. Well, you might see him, but you won't see him on the field or in the Dodgers' lineup. The sprained ankle is just not at a stage where the Dodgers feel safe about putting him out there. Given the presence of Juan Pierre and a couple options at SS, the Dodgers are simply being cautious. In Ken Gurnick's article at MLB.com, Grady Little sounds smart. "We have to use common sense," Little said before the team bussed to Tampa for its flight home to Los Angeles. "If he starts with any limp, how long will he be at only 80 percent? It could prolong that time. If it takes four or five days into the season to get him 100 percent, you have to consider if it's worth that. I think it will be. Otherwise, you run the risk of having him at 80 percent for three weeks. Of course, we'll have to put him in a cage." It sounds like Stan Conte is rubbing off on people. If you're still drafting, this is a great opportunity to use a minor injury to push someone down the draft board. It doesn't look like the Dodgers will use the DL here, though that is still an option they have by rule. Expect Furcal to miss a week on the outside and to be down on speed (which will affect his OBP and BA) through the first few weeks of his return.
  • The Diamondbacks will start the season without one of their young guns. Carlos Quentin had a setback with his shoulder and will now start the season on the DL. It wasn't a severe setback; Quentin felt soreness after three at-bats in a minor league game. The team is smartly cautious with Quentin, who will spend the next week working on on strength and stamina in the injured shoulder. This setback does have me a bit more worried about his power numbers, but this should be a short-term problem. The D'Backs will alter their outfield, moving Eric Byrnes to RF and Scott Hairston will take the start in LF, which raises his value.
  • Dan Johnson will start the year on the DL, losing all the gains he made through spring training, due to torn cartilage in his hip. Previously it was believed that Johnson had a strained hip flexor, but imaging showed the cartilage problem. At this point, surgery is an option and there's no timetable, though published reports from the AP indicate that Johnson could miss as much as three months. That seems a bit heavy unless surgery is necessary. Johnson had corrected some eye problems in the off-season and appeared to be on the roster prior to the injury. Now, he's unlikely to have much if any fantasy value, replaced by Erubiel Durazo until Daric Barton is ready.
  • The Marlins didn't wait on Taylor Tankersley to get back, going out and getting Jorge Julio to take the closer role. Even with Tankersley making positive steps, Julio does more than just take the ninth. Given his shaky hold on past jobs, Julio is likely to need a backup and there's where we'll find Tankersley on the depth chart. He's back to throwing in games, having an effective outing in a minor league game on Wednesday, throwing all his pitches with near-normal velocity. While he will begin the season on the DL, it's a retro move that will only cost him the first week of the season. He shouldn't be penalized more for that lost week than the value he lost when Julio came over.
  • The Reds are down on their expected OF depth now that Chris Denorfia, a guy who has spent more time in Louisville than most expected, will miss the season after elbow surgery. Expected to be the fourth OF, Denorfia instead will spend 2007 coming back from Tommy John on his throwing elbow, a real shock to the team. Given the known fragility of Ryan Freel and Ken Griffey Jr, a blow to the backup that forces them further down the depth chart also gives opportunities. Someone like Joey Votto, a first baseman, might become a valid option now in the OF. Of course, the ability to be creative depends a lot on the team's status--are they be thinking "win now" or "stick with the plan?" Fans in the Queen City will be watching.

Quick Cuts: Who is Chris Heintz and why does he affect your fantasy team? The Twins will carry Heintz as a "third" catcher, which indicates that Joe Mauer will be DHing, as expected. Now it's up to Ron Gardenhire to maximize the use of Jason Kubel and Rondell White ... Tomo Ohka was named a starter with the Jays. He's been very solid this spring, for what that's worth. I touted him all winter, so it's nice to see it looking smart, at least for now ... Shawn Chacon as closer? It might happen, making him worth a late flyer or endgame dollar pick ... Jose Valverde shut his finger in a car door. It's not serious, but might cost him a couple opportunities in the first week ... Brad Hawpe looks to be ready for OD despite a mildly sprained ankle ... Remember all those college closers that were drafted a couple years ago? Besides Chad Cordero, have any of them worked out? J. Brent Cox (which sounds like a personal injury attorney's name) had Tommy John on Wednesday, making his status as Mariano Rivera's expected replacement a bit more tenuous ... The Twins lost some depth when Anderson Machado headed for labrum surgery on his throwing shoulder. In deep leagues, Alexi Casilla has some late-game value ... Jayson Stark busts out the oddest injuries of the spring. Every so often, I think about doing a column like this and every time, Stark beats me to the punch. If I didn't respect him so much, I'd get jealous.

Related Content:  The Who

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