July 25, 2008
Under The Knife
Not a Wrap
Normally on Friday we do the UTK Wrap, a review of the week's injuries that's published both here at BP.com and at SI.com, but with this week's Free Preview there's no real need for a review. Everything's been out in the open, letting subscribers and non-subscribers take a look at what we do all year long here at BP.com. So for a little bit of a change, we'll do a 'normal' UTK here, and take a look around the league at the injuries that are affecting your favorite teams, as well as your fantasy rosters. I'll toss Injury Cost in today, the Wrap's extra statistic, since the more I work with it, the more I feel like it's the most accurate description of value lost. I'd love to have a measure that worked in runs or wins rather than dollars, but while we have a system that works in retrospect, no one has yet developed one that works contemporaneously. On to the injuries:
Jorge Posada (30 DXL/$2.6 million)
Hideki Matsui (30 DXL/$1.5 million)<
Posada has decided to delay surgery, hoping that a strengthening program will hold his shoulder together long enough for him to be able to come back and help the Yankees make a late-season charge. That's the plan for now, with Posada on the DL until at least August 5, though it's more likely that he'll be out until mid-month; if the Yankees hold on without him, that's when their real decision point on which way to go will be. The delay does call into question whether or not Posada will be able to make it back by the start of next season, and especially his ability to come back as a catcher. It's tough to gauge how quickly he'll recover from this, given the lack of comparable injuries and his relative defensive deficiencies; it's his bat, not his glove, that holds the value. The Yankees are also watching Matsui closely to see if he'll contribute anything more this season. His knee has been drained again, for the final time. If it still swells with activity, the rusty iron man will need surgery to correct the problem, effectively ending his season. He'll begin hitting next week, but no one seems optimistic that he can stay healthy. With both players, the Yankees are just hoping that they can contribute something, anything, without depending on them for any major impact.
Tim Hudson (0 DXL/0)
Chipper Jones (7 DXL/$0.7 million)
The Braves' decision on whether they'll be buyers or sellers-and I still think they'll end up standing pat-may hinge on whether Hudson and Jones have more than just dings. Jones is already well-known for his leg problems and his quick, effective comebacks, but even Chipper is going to have issues with strains on opposing sides of his leg. With both a recurrent quad strain and an acute hamstring strain, Jones has no way to protect the muscle, which puts his kinematics into deep deficit. Even Jones himself sounded a bit negative. He got the offday on Thursday and will be re-evaluated, but I would expect him to be affected, if not rested, at least through the weekend. I'll rate his chances of hitting the DL as a coin flip now, and split the difference on his DXL. Things don't look as serious for Tim Hudson. While it's never good to have the team's ace come out of a game with elbow soreness, Hudson and the medical staff think it's a muscular issue and that he won't miss a start. Given their lack of acceptable options for a sixth starter, the Braves have to hope that Hudson can answer the call early next week.
Kerry Wood (17 DXL/$0.2 million)
Did you know that a retroactive move can only be backdated ten days? I didn't, not until the rule was quoted to me in regards to Wood. Good to know, I guess. Wood tried to get back out on the mound, but hasn't healed enough yet to get there. So, the Cubs pushed him to the DL and will continue to use Carlos Marmol as the closer in the meantime. The interesting thing here is that Lou Piniella doesn't seem to grasp that moving Marmol, rather than leaving him in the late-inning set-up role, doesn't necessarily mean that he won't still have the kinds of problems that he's had. I don't understand why smart guys like Piniella don't get this. Wood's blister remains just an annoyance rather than a real problem, and he should be back as soon as the rules allow, which is now next Tuesday.
Chris Carpenter (120 DXL/$4.4 million)
As much as I like Injury Cost, here's the type of situation where it fails. Everyone knew Carpenter to be injured coming into the season, and PECOTA "saw" that as well, cutting his expectation for playing time and starts down to the point where his projection and his calculated value fall well below his actual economic cost to the team. It's the one failing of the system that I see right now, but without a heavy-duty mathematical correction, this 'quick and dirty' system isn't terrible here, it's just not as accurate as it feels on most injuries. Carpenter is making good progress, and while his results on the mound during his first rehab start weren't ideal-he had typical post-TJ wildness-his elbow came through it just fine. There's a small chance that Carpenter could make only one more rehab start, scheduled for Friday in Double-A Springfield. It's much more likely that he gets at least one or two more starts, but the Cardinals are a bit desperate for anything resembling pitching, especially after being swept this by Milwaukee.
Erik Bedard (75 DXL/$7.1 million)
Bedard spent a few weeks on the shelf with a sore shoulder, so while the diagnosis of internal impingement sounds like progress towards finding the root cause of his problem, it's not. Internal impingement is one of those 'garbage diagnoses' used when a doctor can't find something specific. It's an accurate description, but it's just not specific enough. Impingement is usually a problem with the labrum or the sub-surface of the rotator cuff, but it can also involve instability, humeral retroversion, acromial inflammation, and subcoracoid stenosis. That's a lot of big words that all mean 'sore shoulder.' Without one root cause, it's harder to get to the fix (or fixes). If a strengthening program, rest, and treatment don't help, pitchers generally head for surgery, usually a fix of the labrum and shoulder capsule. If that reminds you of Mark Prior, it should. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Dave Roberts (0 DXL/0)
Roberts may have been caught stealing, but at least he's showing us that he's still willing to run. Unless you're in a league that isn't using counting stats, he could be a "steal." (Sorry, couldn't resist!) And yes, I know I advised the opposite just a couple of weeks ago, but Roberts has gone from hobbling to hustling in just a short time, and when there's new information, that has to be added into the equation. Roberts also showed some range in the outfield during his first start, another good sign that the knee is feeling good. I'm not saying he's going to be any different or better than he's been in the past, just that he has the chance to be the same-and that's a pretty good result from knee surgery.
Matt Capps (60 DXL/$3.2 million)
While the Pirates discuss trading some of their excess bullpen arms in hopes of rebuilding the team, Capps is getting nearer to taking back the closer role he left behind while dealing with his arm issues. If you see parallels between Capps and Bedard, you're right. Capps' "internal rotation deficit" is more or less the same thing as internal impingement, and it raises concerns about Capps' ability to stay healthy over the long term. That will be decided by whether or not his situation was caught quickly, and if he can hold on to the physical and mechanical changes that will prevent the same thing from happening again. It's impossible for a tiger to change his stripes, but it's not impossible for a pitcher, especially a relatively young one like Capps, to make changes to their mechanics. Having seen Jeff Andrews work when he was here in Indy, I've seen him make very subtle changes that can keep a rotation full of Brian Bullingtons and John "Big Van" Benschotens healthy and productive. Capps is still at least a few weeks away, with any return before September 1 being ahead of schedule.
Colby Rasmus (30 DXL/0)
The Cards' top prospect must have one powerful checked swing, because reports from Memphis have Rasmus collapsing and grasping his knee on Tuesday night just after checking up. Imaging showed a Grade I sprain of his MCL, about as minor as it comes, and in the grand scheme of things that's about the best outcome they could have hoped for. He should miss about a month, though there's the chance that this will amount to a season-ender, since coming back for just a couple of games isn't a big deal. There's also the possibility that he'll come up in September and try to bolster the Cards' division chase if he's healthy enough, so there's a broad swath of outcomes here. It's worth noting the reaction he had to this-he may not have the highest pain tolerance, something that could come into play later in his career. (Why zero on the injury cost? Because he's not on the 40-man roster.)
Quick Cuts: Ryan Spilborghs is at least two weeks away from coming, and likely more, as he recovers from his oblique strain. ... Chris Young is on track to return to the Padres rotation on Tuesday. ... Lastings Milledge is back from his groin strain and should be back in center field for the Nats starting Friday night. ... While I agree that Chad Cordero is so risky that he's not worth keeping at his current value, I don't have any idea why the Nats would announce that they'll non-tender him now. Even with his shoulder problems, someone's going to take a chance on him. ... Joey Gathright has been playing with a lax shoulder for almost a month, and was finally pushed to the DL to try and heal him up. ... While people are asking about the lack of African-Americans in baseball, I wonder how many Hispanics there are in football. ... It takes tall guys longer to find their mechanics, and after what was essentially two years off, Randy Johnson seems to have found his again. That's dangerous.