I’ll start by answering three frequently asked questions from the last 24 hours. Some of you want to see more info on the new drug proposals. While I think it’s all moot–and Bud Selig and Don Fehr will find out more when they testify–Tom Gorman breaks down the latest.

Many have asked what coverage BP Radio will have of the playoffs. Just like last year, we’ll have correspondents at nearly every playoff site (and if you’re in Atlanta and want to make that “every playoff site,” you know how to contact me) helping make BP your destination for October baseball.

Finally, yes, it was my dog and he’s a Havanese.

Powered by more coffee than the law should allow, on to the injuries:

  • One of the bigger disagreements between strict sabermetric constructionists and old-school baseball men is the value of Dave Roberts‘ steal in last year’s playoffs. Roberts will get a chance to see how valuable he can be again this post-season, as long as his quad doesn’t get any worse. Roberts has had an injury-marred season in San Diego. His most recent injury doesn’t appear too serious on the MRI, though it’s his function that will be the key test. Roberts versus Yadier Molina will be one of the key first-round matchups.
  • There’s a reason that Roberts was on the bench and able to be used last year. The playoff roster that the Red Sox put together last year had so much positional flexibility that it effectively extended the bench by a couple players. Some of that flexibility could come back with Kevin Youkilis, who is able to play all four infield positions at an acceptable level. Youkilis has missed time with a fractured finger and there’s some question as to whether he’ll even be on the playoff roster. He’ll have a couple games to show that he belongs when he comes back in what already amounts to a playoff series against the Yankees. Hand injuries tend to sap power, but Youkilis isn’t really much of a power threat to begin with, so he should be fine if Terry Francona elects to use him.
  • The Yankees’ pitching staff has wavered wildly between injured, ineffective and frustrating. Seldom has the team had more than two starters both healthy and effective at the same time, unless you include Aaron Small in the mix. Two pitchers amounted to near total losses, two spent much of the season injured, and Randy Johnson‘s situation has been well documented here and elsewhere. Mike Mussina had an outing that was more ineffectiveness than injury, hardly a positive but let’s try to be a bit glass-half-full here. Mussina’s short outing not only was pain-free (for Mussina, not Yankees fans), it might allow him to be available for the Red Sox series. There’s something to loyalty; putting an ineffective pitcher into the key series of the season is just folly.
  • Larry Walker knew all season that the Cardinals had him in uniform for October; not May, not June, and certainly not September. As the pages of my ARF calendar continue to turn, Walker’s time is coming and the Cards’ medical staff is making sure that he’s ready. Walker’s problematic neck seems well enough to gut through a couple more weeks and there’s one cortisone shot “in the bank” if necessary between series. Walker will play for the next few games, straightening up his swing and allowing the training staff to get into some sort of routine about getting their slugger ready for games.
  • It’s always tempting to throw in an “Operation Shutdown” reference anytime there’s a Bell involved, even when it’s David Bell and not Derek Bell. David dislocated his finger on a slide into third (worse, he was out) and left the game. The dislocation was quickly reduced and reports have the swelling and pain as minimal. A decision will be made about his playing status at game time, though with the wild card on the line, the Phillies will likely be more aggressive with getting players onto the field over these last few days.
  • The Giants’ last gasp will come with Jason Schmidt on the mound. Nearly as important to the team as Barry Bonds, Schmidt’s injury and relative ineffectiveness have pushed the team to mediocrity. The groin problem that Schmidt attempted to pitch through has limited his velocity and control, leaving him an ordinary pitcher down the stretch. It’s good to note that even so limited, Schmidt was able to adjust quickly and remain effective, if far from dominant. It’s an indication that Schmidt, unlike many power pitchers, may be able to make the necessary adjustments as he ages and loses some of his stuff.
  • Middle relievers seldom make UTK, and Blaine Boyer probably wishes that trend continued. His sore shoulder really isn’t that big a problem in the long term. His changing role (he was a starter in the minors) explains some of the problem. He’s not tired or at least his velocity isn’t tipping that. His mechanics aren’t bad. He’s actually looking at a significant decrease in innings year over year. He had had some elbow problems in the past, but that doesn’t tell us much here. Expect Boyer to be watched closely over the next couple meaningless games to determine the playoff role of the latest of the Braves’ homegrown hurlers. (He’s from suburban Marietta.)

  • Quick Cuts: Watch for some K-Rod-style roster shenanigans coming up from some teams to sneak some people onto their playoff rosters. The DL loophole is something that baseball should close … There are whispers that the bullpen Ozzie Guillen takes into the playoffs might surprise a lot of people … Brandon Lyon appears headed for Tommy John surgery, something he probably wishes he’d had two years ago … Jason Kubel is expected to start play in the Florida Instructional League in October. We’ll have our normal sources watching him closely … A pitching coach checked in with me to warn about Chris Carpenter: “I know you read The Diamond Appraised. Carpenter’s up near 30 batters per game and his command is off. I don’t know if a little extra rest is going to be enough unless they’re moving Jason Marquis into the pen to shadow him.”