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August 20, 2009

Under The Knife

Seeing Red

by Will Carroll

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Yeah, I'm a ramblin' man these next couple weeks. Memphis tomorrow, Mobile next week, then Ft. Myers the following weekend. As always, I'd love to get together and talk baseball (or even football) with some of you. Drop me a line if you'll be in the area. UTK will continue on a bit of an irregular (i.e. filing as much as I can) schedule through the first week of September, but trust me, I'll be keeping you updated through use of Unfiltered, comments, and my Twitter feed. I'm lucky to be able to do this and technology is making it possible for me to do this from anywhere, something this year has shown me more than ever. So come along for the ride. Powered by knowing there's a Jamba Juice in the Charlotte airport, on to the injuries:

Johnny Cueto (8/31)
It'd be easy to blame Dusty Baker for the problems suffered by his pitchers. I'm just not sure that would give us a complete picture. It's almost a tale of two seasons. Through the first half, up to one disastrous final performance just before the break, Cueto was doing everything right; he was just crossing the 100-inning mark when everything went downhill. First it was a shoulder problem, then a hip, and now it's back to a shoulder problem. While seeing his ERA go up by two runs, Cueto was able to go to or over the 100-pitch mark in his turns. Was he dancing on his own grave, or was he being pushed? That's really hard to say. He was effective enough to keep going out there, but not effective enough to win. Did they wait too long? Is the damage done? We simply don't know. Right now, there's nothing as cut-and-dried as Edinson Volquez's exploding elbow; Cueto's shoulder is more wait-and-see. The problem is, there's no good answer here. While easy to point at Dusty-and there's surely some blame he should carry-doing so doesn't teach us anything we didn't know. Cueto and other young pitchers deserve better. The current plan is that he'll return on August 31, but when he does, I don't expect we'll see any real change.

Willy Taveras (9/5)
Scott Rolen (8/22)

Cueto is not the Reds' only problem, not by a long shot. Taveras has been a problem all season long, so a minor quad strain gives them the excuse to sit him down and see if anyone else can solve the problem. Drew Stubbs has been doing everything Tavares was supposed to down in Triple-A, so he finally gets his shot. Taveras will be back when rosters expand, so we'll see whether Dusty will realize he has better options once Taveras is available. Rolen is headed my way, coming to Indy with Triple-A Louisville for a couple of games' worth of at-bats. He still has a "very low level" headache, but no other deficits during workouts. He'll be watched closely to make sure exertion doesn't trigger anything. If not, he'll be activated for the weekend by the Reds.

Jason Varitek (8/24)
The Red Sox seem to be lost without Varitek, which is interesting. With all the debate about MVPs, I always try the mental exercise of "what would the team be without him?" Varitek isn't the MVP, but he does have a value higher than what we note because of those little things and the confidence the team-and especially the pitching staff-has in him. It doesn't make him a better player, just a more important player to his team. He's not seeing much improvement with his cervical spasms, and there's no timeline on his return. It has to be more serious than the team is letting on or Varitek would be fighting to play through it. With Victor Martinez available, there's no rush to get him back, but if this one extends past the weekend, they'll look to DL him.

Oliver Perez (8/23)
J.J. Putz

'One wrong step' could be the title of a book about this season's Mets or Oliver Perez's career. There's been far more than one wrong step with both, of course, but one step did injure Perez's problematic knee again. In the midst of Tuesday's start, Perez stumbled covering first, after which his knee began to "throb." That's never a good sign, but they treated it quickly and it seemed to respond. Perez will throw on the side today to determine if he'll make his Sunday start. It's unclear who would be the fill-in or shadow, but Perez is always going to be a high-risk pitcher, whether it's this weekend or any time. I'm hearing that he's likely to take the ball on Sunday. The news is also good on Putz-he'll throw a simulated game at CitiField over the weekend, then take a train out to Brooklyn for a rehab assignment. He should be back in the bullpen by this time next week, likely replacing Billy Wagner.

Jake Peavy (9/4)
The Sox are pushing Peavy's return back a bit, saying that he'll need at least two more rehab starts. It was clear that he was still hobbled on defensive plays, and the Sox don't want to risk things by putting him out there against a tough Yankees lineup for his first start back. That pushes his return back to September, with many guessing that he'd be back around September 3rd or 4th. The latter makes sense to me, as it would be a home game. Peavy's ankle seems to be healing up on the schedule that the Padres were discussing at the time of the original injury, so this isn't so much a setback as an acknowledgement that there was no "inside info" on Peavy. Even context, where each and every game is valuable for the Sox, isn't enough to push Peavy out there early. I do expect him to be effective when he does return.

Tim Hudson (9/1)
The Braves think they'll get Hudson in September. His recovery from Tommy John surgery was slowed by a simple hamstring strain, but with that behind him, he has been able to get on the mound for Triple-A Gwinnett and showed no issues aside from some missing stamina. That's to be expected. He'll have one or two more starts, only to prove that he's got enough stamina to go 80 pitches or more, then he will slot right back into the Braves' rotation once rosters expand. All reports from his start indicate good velocity and command for Hudson. He's not likely to help the Braves much this year, but there's no reason to think that he won't be the same consistent Tim Hudson when 2010 starts.

John Smoltz
The problem with Smoltz isn't stuff, but recovery. Coming off shoulder surgery, Smoltz was having trouble getting back to his maximum, both on velocity and stamina, between starts. That's created questions over whether he could relieve effectively, but when working short stints, the recovery is different. I'm not sure he has the stuff to be effective as a set-up man for the Cardinals, but he's the type of pitcher that Dave Duncan seems to gets results with. Granted, he usually has a bit more time to work on things. I don't have much hope for Smoltz being anything more than minimally effective as a starter or reliever. My only real hope is that the Cardinals' staff will know how to mix and match him to get some sort of production out of this low-dollar gamble. Keys to look for in his first start is velocity (90 mph or better) and movement, but it's his second outing where we'll have to watch to see if he's recovered.

Quick Cuts: Joey Votto had some blurry vision and was scratched on Wednesday. He's not expected to miss much time, though the Reds will monitor him closely. ... Hiroki Kuroda went to the DL, a smart play after his incident. He should miss two starts. ... Freddy Sanchez will miss a couple of days while his shoulder gets some treatment and rest. That usually equals "cortisone shot." ... Daisuke Matsuzaka is scheduled back in the Sox rotation on September 8th. ... Jason Kubel is back in the lineup, having rested after fouling a ball off of his knee. He'll play, but it's still painful ... Trevor Crowe has a setback with his oblique, reinjuring it in batting practice. Matt LaPorta will take his roster spot. ... Eddie Guardado isn't "Everyday" any more, and knee inflammation will keep him out until the end of the month. ... Justin Upton took batting practice, and will head out on a rehab assignment early next week. ... Jesus Flores will start a rehab assignment and should be back for the Nationals in September. ... Edgar Gonzalez started a rehab assignment as he comes back from his concussion, and hit a homer in his first game back. ... Mike Hampton has a partial thickness tear of his rotator cuff. He'll try to rehab and is determined to come back this year and next.

Related Content:  Back,  Rosters,  Quad-a

24 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

victor19nyc

Mike Hampton??? I honestly never noticed that he was back pitching in '08 and '09.

Aug 20, 2009 09:55 AM
rating: 0
 
agentsteel53

his pitching has not exactly been noticeable.

Aug 20, 2009 15:20 PM
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bretsky07

Chris Capuano made an appearance for the AZL Brewers last night.

Aug 20, 2009 10:28 AM
rating: -1
 
Patrick

If Hudson is going back into the Braves rotation, who will be coming out of it? Is this how Atlanta will manage Hanson's innings?

Aug 20, 2009 10:35 AM
rating: -1
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

That's the interesting question. I do think they'll have a very quick hook with him, but until they know how Hudson can go, they can't have two pitchers challenging the pen. If you put Lowe between them, it's more reasonable, assuming he's always good or that he's going to bite the bullet if he's not.

Lowe/Hanson/Vazquez/Hudson/Kawakami would be ideal. What about Jurrjens? He's already in risky territory, so have him shadowing Hanson and Hudson (esp Hudson). Could use Kawakami instead of Jurrjens there, but I don't think he's as "worthy" of protection as Jurrjens.

Aug 20, 2009 12:10 PM
 
gtgator
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

Will is likely speculating and has no actual information that Hudson will go back into the rotation (from what I've seen, most here at BP have no actual information on what the Braves will do in upcoming personnel decisions, just speculations that are often incorrect). So I would take that comment with a grain of salt.

I have heard/read nothing about Hudson definitely slotting into the rotation in anyone's spot (with Hanson or possibly Kawakami going to the pen). That is one option. Another option is Hudson going to the pen himself or a third option is a 6 man rotation. And until he makes his final rehab start, I doubt there will be idea what the Braves will do and a lot will depend on factors we won't know until 10 or so days from now (health of the other SP, status of the wild card race, etc.). Regardless, barring an injury, Hudson is definitely not a given to be in the rotation come Sept. 1.

Aug 20, 2009 12:17 PM
rating: -5
 
Patrick

So you're speculating that Will is speculating?

I was just trying to see if he had further information and could elaborate. I've read about a number of possibilities, including the ones you mention. It doesn't mean anybody is wrong yet, so why get so snarky about it?

Aug 21, 2009 06:14 AM
rating: 0
 
gtgator

"then he will slot right back into the Braves' rotation once rosters expand"

This is not speculation. This is a statement of fact. This "will" happen. There are no qualfiers, no "I think" this will happen - nothing to indicate that this was an opinion. In fact, this statement implies that Will had actual inside information to justify such a statement. Now Will is also a very respected writer (and I love his work, BTW) and I will bet you that people (especially those in fantasy) will take his word as gospel. Some may act accordingly. Your own comments appear to indicate that you believe Will knows something here. However, as a huge Braves fan, I have read the papers, listened to radio, watched the games, listened to interviews from Wren, etc. and there has been absolutely no talk about what the Braves will do with Hudson (or for that matter Hanson) when/if Hudson shows he's ready. So my primary comment was that you (and others) shouldn't believe Hudson "will" slot into the rotation because no one knows for sure - not even Will unless he had information he didn't share. And based on who/what I know, I was 99.9% sure he did not. And, sure enough, Will's subsequent comments show he had no actual inside information. And if it had been written as such, I'd have never even commented at all.

Was I too snarky? Probably. But over the last year and a half, I have seen a lot of similar statements that are actually opinions couched as facts regarding the Braves - statements that have been flat wrong. Joe stated that Escobar is a nothing more than a utility player and the Braves would be better off with Lillibridge at SS. Christina stated that Gregor Blanco would and should receive substantial PT as the Braves 4th OF. Joe stating Prado is a fluke or that the Braves have relied heavily on two guys who combined for less than 5% of total PA. Marc stated that the Braves SP has been substandard of late (despite being top 2 in ERA the last 2 months). And so on.

Now I'm not trying to defend all things Braves. And I am fine with opinions that bash the team or the players - I do that often enough with my friends. But I do think that professional writers (and the writers here, IMO, qualify) should couch opinions as such (not as facts) and should provide informed opinions - and none of the ones I mentioned above would qualify. So when Will did the same thing, I commented. Did I go too far? Again, probably and I apologize to Will as such. Too bad there is not edit function (at least that I can locate).

But my basic annoyance still stands - opinions should be couched as such and informed. And BP needs to find someone who follows the Braves (and each team for that matter) since a lot of the opinions about them have been uninformed of late.

Now if people want to negative this post into oblivion as well, be my guest.

Aug 21, 2009 12:13 PM
rating: 1
 
cyborg

I actually agree with this and have seen it time and time again at BP. Not just with the Braves but other teams as well. It is a fine line that a journalist has to tread over in regards to how things are written. Since the comments section came out at BP, too often the writer's response to a readers comment is "that was poorly written and that's not exactly what I meant" or "a better way to write it is..."

This exact speculation vs fact is especially true at UTK (and I love the article, Will). The one that immediately comes to mind was the Jays front office and medical staff and the "fact" that the Jays were responsible for all the recent injuries.

I think it's extremely important for BP to make sure opinions are expressed accordingly.

Aug 21, 2009 13:53 PM
rating: 0
 
Patrick

Wow.

The only reason I commented in the first place was because it was the first time I'd seen somebody say Hudson would be in the rotation. My question was less about whether or not that was fact, but wondering what the Braves do with six qualified starters, especially because their decision could impact not only this year, but the future of their pitching staff.

If the authors wanted you to take everything they say as gospel, they never would have allowed comments. Fans who take every incorrect analysis as a conspiracy against their team are making them regret that decision.

Aug 21, 2009 15:19 PM
rating: -1
 
achaik

Any news on Ian Kennedy?

Aug 20, 2009 10:58 AM
rating: -1
 
chico123

"Varitek isn't the MVP, but he does have a value higher than what we note because of those little things and the confidence the team—and especially the pitching staff—has in him."

"In god we trust, all other must bring data." Are you replacing Tek with god? ;)

Tom
www.elguaposghost.blogspot.com

Aug 20, 2009 12:20 PM
rating: -1
 
mglick0718

On this note, you say Varitek's other qualities don't "make him a better player, just a more important player to his team." Not that I believe or don't believe he has those qualities, but if they lead to more wins, as you're implying, why wouldn't they make him a better player?

Aug 20, 2009 12:52 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

I'm just saying that we can't measure things like confidence and "syncing" well with pitchers. We know it doesn't show up in CERA, but if the pitcher believes it, it's something. There's something to "clubhouse leader" too, but I don't think we can quantify it or should even try.

Aug 20, 2009 14:55 PM
 
dianagram

Mark Prior isn't ready to give up just yet:

http://tinyurl.com/m5skx8

For Prior, his focus today is more on pitchers like Pedro Martinez of Philadelphia and Chris Carpenter of St. Louis than Strasburg.

"I see how Pedro and Chris have battled back from injuries and I respect what they have done," Prior said. "It also gives me hope.

"I will do everything I can to prepare myself to pitch in the Major Leagues again. I know I have the ability and I haven't given up on myself in any way."

Aug 20, 2009 13:51 PM
rating: 0
 
Richie

For who knows what reasons I cannot reply to comments nor +/- them, so this has got to go here. What in the world's wrong with gtgator's comment? If Will's got a source, let him say 'yup, I got a source'. If Will's speculating, he can say so, nothing wrong with that. A touch snarky, yeah, but gtgator's comment is also very sensible and well-reasoned.

Aug 20, 2009 20:33 PM
rating: -3
 
rsambrook

Will didn't assert anything anyways. He was speculating, he was asked to speculate on the Braves upcoming decision and he did. If you don't care about his opinion, why are you reading his chat? To me, gtgator's comments were self agrandizing and definately uncalled for.

Aug 21, 2009 07:12 AM
rating: 0
 
gtgator

Read this again:

"then he will slot right back into the Braves' rotation once rosters expand"

Now your opinion is that this is NOT an assertion of fact? We'll have to agree to disagree on that opinion.

As for my first comment, I was writing it as Will posted his comment - I did not see his comment before mine was posted. Had I seen it and confirmed that Will was speculating, I would have edited it to just the second paragraph and provided the link to the AJC article stating what I did. But the time to write the first post resulted in an appearance that I was attacking Will's comment, which was not my intent. My comments were directed towards what he wrote in the article.

Aug 21, 2009 12:24 PM
rating: 0
 
joecahill

With Volquez and Cueto, would it not be just as easy to blame the World Baseball Classic as it would to blame Dusty?

Aug 21, 2009 11:03 AM
rating: 0
 
Richie

Nothing speculative about Will's Braves/Hudson language at all. "The Braves think", "He'll have", "then he will". These are all assertions. Journalistically, there's a world of difference between 'the Braves tell me ...' and 'I think the Braves will ...'. Not that the latter can't often prove more accurate than the former. But it ought to be clear which one a journalist's doing.

Aug 21, 2009 11:48 AM
rating: 1
 
eddjdatc1

On road or I'd have responded earlier before this got ridiculous.

Look, Hudson's going back to the rotation. In his minor league starts, they've been building his stamina. They set his last outing at 85-90 pitches and he was somewhere in there. (Yep, 89 ... looked it up, since people apparently want absolute total accuracy and clarity.) There's no reason to build up his stamina if they want to put him in the bullpen. Do I *KNOW* this? No. Is there a better explanation? No. It's a reasonable assumption based on available information.

But I do appreciate that you all take so much time to read each and every column for intention, clarity, and conspiracy.

Aug 24, 2009 00:24 AM
rating: 0
 
sbnirish77

Is eddjdatc1 another byline for Will Carroll? If so, why do you feel you need another one?

Aug 24, 2009 08:42 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

Sorry -- posted from the computer at my Dad's place.

Aug 27, 2009 18:22 PM
 
gtgator

I came here to update and see that I was being taken to task by Will, so I'll just update here.

Anyway, congratulations - thanks to an injury to Kawakami, Hudson will slide back into the rotation Monday (before rosters expand, but still). But you ended up proven correct.

BTW, as to "better explanations" to stretch Hudson out, here's one - when the Braves started his rehab program a month ago they had no idea whether a pitcher would get hurt/traded (which, lo and behold, appears to have happened). Hudson is a veteran SP. And it is easier to put a stretched out pitcher into the pen (e.g. Moyer) than take a non-stretched out pitcher and expect him to to go 5-6 innings, especially one coming off of surgery. Simple prudent planning would dictate that any SP be rehabbed as one if you feel there might be any possibility you'll need a SP at the end of his rehab. Now if one wishes to infer that this MUST have meant Hudson would have ended up in the rotation even without a Kawakami injury, we'll just have to agree to disagree.

Regardless, I still stand by my original criticism that opinions should be couched as same. And they should be informed. I'll also add that if you're going to get annoyed at criticism, understand it first - I never demanded "total accuracy" on opinions or felt any "conspiracy" at play. I do think there are a lot of uninformed opinions given here - many of which are couched as actual facts - and these have led to a lot of incorrect opinions in the past. I guess I am wrong to expect better from writers of your caliber and of BP in general. I guess I should lower my expectations. Not to mention, you (and BP writers) felt free to criticize the writing style of several wannabe BP writers all summer - but evidently criticism of your writing style is taboo. I have already apologized for being too snarky in my original comment, but I will also definitely keep that in mind that any criticism should remain silent lest you get annoyed at same.

But, still, I came here to state that you were correct on your opinion and congratulations. Hudson will start Monday.

Aug 28, 2009 06:12 AM
rating: 0
 
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