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June 1, 2007

Under The Knife

NextGen

by Will Carroll

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It's the end of an era. This weekend will be the last Baseball Prospectus Radio as we've known it for the past five seasons. It will be one heck of a final show--Frank Deford, one of my writing heroes, talks about his timely new novel, Buzz Bissinger discusses Kerry Wood in a new article in this weekend's New York Times titled "Play," and Al Roker talks about producing a new series about making to "The Show." The idea that we could have that kind of guest list in any month, let alone a single show, means that BPR has exceeded every single expectation I had for it.

So why is it ending? Well, it's not, not really. Instead, we're shifting our focus--instead of producing a weekly show for affiliates, we'll be producing more content for you via stream, download, and podcast. Instead of waiting for the weekend, we can put up interviews within minutes. BP Radio has to change with the times, and it's a far different world of baseball now than it was when we started. There was no MLB.tv back when BPR was launched, the Yankees were still a dynasty, and iPods weren't ubiquitous. BP is always changing, and we hope you'll share this next stage of the journey.

Powered by all the people that have been a part of BP Radio's success, whether it was a guest, a producer, or a listener who offered suggestions, on to the injuries:

  • Ever hit your knee on something, or worse, had one of those knee-to-knee collisions? They hurt like crazy. The Mets hope that's all that happened to Carlos Beltran in a collision with Rich Aurilia. He's definitely got a bruise, and the Mets will order an MRI just to make sure. According to reports, Beltran thinks it's a short-term injury, but he's always been a bad predictor of his own recovery times. Since he's having trouble with weight-bearing, it's safe to say that the Mets will be conservative and give him at least a couple of days off. The last thing they want is to have a subtle alteration of his gait that would lead to other leg problems. Unless something unexpected comes back from the MRI, this should be a short-term problem, and isn't likely to put him on the DL.
  • When Jason Giambi came up, he was mentored by Mark McGwire. While Giambi may have modeled himself after the big slugger, I'm sure he didn't want to mimic one of Big Mac's more debilitating injuries, but after dealing with bone spurs in his feet, it appears that something simply gave out. In this case, it was the plantar fascia near the arch. Giambi will miss a minimum of a month, with a chance that he'll be done for the season. McGwire missed the better portion of two seasons because of a similar injury, and was younger at the time it happened. It's impossible to say how this will come out: most players come back from plantar fasciitis and tears, but the timeframe for their returns are so varied as to make any guess simply that--a guess. It's another devastating injury for a team that is going to have to shuffle the lineup once again. I guess Giambi could take some kind of suspension now if Bud Selig still wants to go that route.
  • As something of a precaution, Rickie Weeks heads to the DL. He's had trouble for much of this season as scar tissue in his surgically repaired wrist has broken up. The pain has generated poor bat control, and leads to the possibility of a cascade injury in the wrist. The Brewers are hoping that rest and treatment will get him past it, using their divisional lead and the timing of this--coming during a team-wide shake-up--to minimize the missed time. Weeks is becoming a concern, as the chronic wrist problem seems to be holding him back from where his talent could take him. Until he demonstrates that the wrist can stay healthy over an extended period, expecting more than what you've seen this year would be foolhardy.
  • It was the reaction that really hurt. Darin Erstad fouled a ball hard off his already sore ankle, which is always painful. (Go ahead, try it. No, don't.) What is a bit unusual is that Erstad's agonized reaction is what appears to have done the damage. Erstad reportedly has some ligament damage after rolling the ankle during his pained response to the foul smashing into his bone. It's an unusual injury, one that may have something to do with previous injuries weakening the ankle. Remember, scar tissue is never as strong as the original structure. Erstad is headed to the DL, and his stay will be determined by how much damage happened inside the ankle. Don't take his response as an indication though, since it was amplified by the foul.
  • Jason Jennings made his first start after coming off the DL and came out sore. It was "normal soreness" according to Jennings, and he was effective during his five shutout innings. Still, this is worrisome. Jennings didn't have these problems while at Triple-A and let's face it, there's no real difference between throwing at Round Rock and throwing in Houston. A pitch is a pitch, so why the increased soreness? One theory is that Jennings changed his side work in anticipation of returning to the rotation. While Jennings appears to be on schedule for his next start, this one is going to need to be watched closely. Jennings might be a sell candidate if he continues to show problems with recovery. Remember that he had a huge increase in innings last season after missing time in 2005 with a finger injury.
  • Refusing a rehab assignment is unusual, but Jeff Weaver appears to have done it. Did he not want to ride a bus, or was he trying to force his release so that he could be reunited with Dave Duncan? Both theories are out there, as well as the more sinister one that Weaver doesn't feel he's injured and refuses to be treated that way. The truth is probably somewhere in between, but the result is that Weaver will stay on the DL and get his work in with the major league team. He'll work on the side, throwing batting practice and simulated games, but lost in the controversial refusal is the fact that he'll be back pitching for the Mariners at some point, possibly as soon as next week. The injury to his shoulder was never a major concern, so other than stamina and his sheer horridness so far as a Mariner, I'm not concerned about the lack of a rehab assignment.
  • There have been a lot of rumors going around about Joakim Soria, more than you'd normally expect for a Royals reliever. Some thought the Royals were trying to push him to the 60-day DL, stashing the Rule 5 pick after he made his minimum day requirement. Others whispered that Soria had a rotator cuff tear and would be done for the season. However, just days after an MRI and these whispers started surfacing, Soria was back in the bullpen, throwing without a problem. The Royals are even setting up a minor league rehab, though the location and timetable have not yet been made public. Soria's not going to push Octavio Dotel aside just yet, but if both are healthy and stay that way, the Royals could deal Dotel to a contender at the deadline, giving Soria the first crack at those saves.

Quick Cuts: Roy Halladay looked solid in his first outing post-appendectomy. It's too early to say if the rest helped or whether he just had a good night, but it's definitely a nice start. ... Philip Hughes has a Grade 3 sprain of his ankle, and many asked if he would need surgery. While a Grade 3 by definition is a severe tear, Hughes did not rupture the ligaments in his ankle and should avoid any surgery, assuming there's no setback during recovery. ... Brandon McCarthy will be back in the rotation for the Rangers next weekend, assuming a bullpen session and a simulated game don't create more blister problems between now and then. ... Josh Johnson will make his first rehab start on Sunday in Single-A. Keep your eye out for how he recovers more than his in-game results ... My dog Simon is on the DL with a luxating patella in his back right leg. Dogs have a seven-day DL like the minors, so rest and treatment should have him back quickly. He had a cortisone injection this morning and saw good results.

Related Content:  Jason Jennings

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