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July 2, 2008

Under The Knife

Conservatism

by Will Carroll

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If you missed out on the NY City Pizza Feed, well, you really missed out. From meeting longtime readers for the first time, to hanging out with email buddies, seeing friends like Alex Belth and Diane Firstman, and talking baseball in one of the coolest baseball bars in the world, it was a night to remember. (I remember most of it, at least.) Peter's definitely right, but that Feed is the best night I've had in a while. Thanks to everyone who came; to Foley's; and to my colleagues, who let me turn the thing into a party. We should do this a lot more often and in a lot more places. I'll have news on that soon, but now, powered by Amp, on to the injuries:

Rafael Furcal (75 DXL)
Just when it seemed like Furcal was getting close to returning, he suffered a setback. His back seized up again after activity, precisely the wrong thing to have happen at this stage in his recovery. The trouble is that his disc problem hasn't responded well to the normal conservative therapies, and it's at this point that surgery usually becomes an option. We'll see if that's where they'll head next, though sources tell me they'll take at least one more run at this type of normal rehab to see if Furcal's back responds differently. His contract status and the lack of depth at the position for the Dodgers are two complicating factors here, but regardless, we likely won't see Furcal until well after the All-Star break.

Roy Oswalt (0 DXL)
I've talked to a lot of people in trying to understand what's up with Oswalt, and one name keeps popping up-John Smoltz. It's not that he's headed for arm surgery, but the attitude and toughness are similar, as well as the desire to pitch through injuries rather than allowing himself to be shut down. Everyone seems to admire the trait inside of the game, but the doctors... not so much. Oswalt has had a lot of leg problems, though none recently, and certainly no events that make me think that his recent hip problem is related. As with any pitcher, the concern isn't for the injury itself, but rather for the changes to his mechanics if he's forced to adjust in order to compensate. Despite a no-trade clause, a few teams have been watching Oswalt as a possible target, so keeping him healthy has to be a priority for the Astros. I think he'll make his weekend start, though grabbing a couple of extra days of rest would be a better choice, especially with the break coming.

Miguel Cabrera (2 DXL)
The Tigers have yet to reap the production that they expected to get out of Cabrera, but keeping him healthy will give him a shot to heat up and help the surging Tigers in the second half. Miggy has a mildly strained hip flexor that's causing him to "severely limp," and he'll miss a handful of games, though he is available to pinch hit. If you noticed the jolting juxtaposition there of mild strain and severe limp, you're not alone. Several people I spoke with think that not only is Cabrera's weight a factor, but that he's also one of those players who becomes a bit annoyed, and even thrown off, by just about any mild injury. The team is willing to let him sit through the weekend without pushing him to the DL, so he'll continue to frustrate his fantasy owners through this week, although this shouldn't be an issue in the long term.

Troy Percival (30 DXL)
It didn't seem to surprise anyone, including Percival, when the Rays pushed him back to the DL. His hamstring has been bothering him since his return, which just ended after he was pulled in a save situation. The leg injury isn't serious, it just needs to heal up. Percy doesn't have enough oomph on his fastball to get away with being less than his current best, which is something very different from his days as a dominant closer. The Rays will give him some extra time if he needs it, and with the All-Star break in play, I'd expect him to be out a little beyond that, though many will disagree with the 30 DXL I'm giving him. Grant Balfour will handle the save opportunities in the meantime, though Percival will get the job back once healthy.

Paul Konerko (20 DXL)
I haven't said much-or actually anything-about Konerko, largely because his injury is about as simple and straightforward as they come. Strained obliques may be down in number slightly this year, but they're still a rest and rehab issue for whoever has one. Konerko has taken it slow and easy, watched closely by head trainer Herm Schneider, one of the best in the biz at rehab. Konerko's begun taking batting practice, which is a good sign, and appears to be heading out on a short rehab assignment, which could have him back in black by early next week. If you ever see me-or rather don't see me-discussing a player, my rule is that I want to have something to add to the conversation. With this one, I don't.

Dan Uggla (7 DXL)
The Marlins think Uggla will be back for the upcoming series with the Rockies, but they're also not sure how well the ankle is going to hold up when he moves laterally. One source thinks he'd be particularly exposed on double plays, making some wonder if the Marlins might try swapping him over to first base in order to keep his bat in the lineup. It doesn't look like they'll do that, but it remains an option. Uggla will be taped up, or perhaps even braced up, so if you can afford to wait and see how he performs in the first few days, you'll be better off for it.

Felix Hernandez (15 DXL)
The Mariners did the smart thing here, protecting Hernandez from himself by pushing him to the DL, rather than letting him try to pitch through his sprained ankle. Hernandez's mechanics are already enough of a mess without throwing a tender landing foot into the mix. Until he's solid on the ankle, the M's won't hurry him back, making it tough to tell exactly when he'll return. I'm putting up a 15 for his DXL, but with the All-Star break complicating things, I wouldn't be surprised if the Mariners made him sit until they're past the break. There's really no compelling reason to rush him, and keeping him healthy long term should be the much larger priority. (Which reminds me... I made an error last week, saying "eversion" when I meant "inversion". It's one of those things I always get backwards. Thanks to Gene Patterson for the catch.)

Juan Pierre (30 DXL)
A knee injury for a speed player is never a good thing. For Pierre, the sprained MCL will cost him a month, but probably won't detract much from his speed once he's back. If Pierre was a wide receiver I'd worry more, but baseball tends to be a straight-line game, and the MCL comes more into play with lateral movement. Once he gets past the swelling and the pain, he'll quickly get back to a (relatively) productive state. The Dodgers have plenty of depth in the outfield, so he'll be handled conservatively. The knee injury might push his value down enough to make him a low-cost pickup. Remember, in fantasy, you're dealing with value, so his monstrous real contract shouldn't factor into your fantasy leagues, especially if you need some steals.

Brett Myers (0 DXL)
Paging Mel Queen! If the Tigers haven't looked up Queen, the man who helped rebuild Roy Halladay, maybe the Phillies should. They've sent Myers down to the minors to give him a chance to rebuild his repertoire, but no one really seems sure what the problem is in the first place. He's using his slider more-compensating for a loss in velocity on his fastball-but no one I've spoken with has seen a real mechanical change. So, if the problem isn't mechanical, it must be physical, right? Both the Phillies and Myers insist that he feels fine, which leads us back to the issue of the assignment to the minors-what will he be doing there, and what will he be working on? I'm not sure I know, and the real problem is that the Phillies don't seem to either.

Quick Cuts: Lots of people asking if there's a physical problem with Matt Capps after he blew a couple of saves and looked terrible doing it. There's nothing here that I'm aware of, but it's worth watching. ... Jeremy Bonderman had his rib removed on Monday. He'll miss the remainder of the year, but is expected back at full strength next season. ... Alfonso Soriano could take batting practice by the weekend and will return just before the All-Star break. ... Edinson Volquez is consistently inconsistent. His mechanics are really out of whack right now. ... Chris Carpenter is throwing again, and thinks he'll be back in mid-August. ... Ryan Zimmerman will start a rehab assignment just after the All-Star break. ... Left. Testicular. Fracture. Those are three evil, evil words when strung together! Chris Snyder, stunningly, might only miss the minimum. I'm day-to-day just thinking about it.

Related Content:  Back,  The Who,  All-star Weekend,  All-star Break

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