For some players, the upcoming break looks like the dawn of a new day, but for others, the sun may be setting fast.
The halfway point in the season has come and gone, but the All-Star Game is still a week away. The season seems to be dominated by injury news, but it's really not. Looking back, we've had some big names go down, but not so many that it would be outside the normal variance. Injuries, in some ways, are actually down from recent levels. We're seeing players come back much more quickly than in the past, and some returning from conditions that would have been career-ending five years ago. Medical science changes faster than I can type, but we're seeing those changes work to the field's advantage in most cases. Players don't just blow out their arm and head back to Spavinaw or whatever small town they came from anymore. No, the team is on the hook for a couple million and spends a year working him back. That's tough, but in the end it makes the game better. Where would the Cubs be without Kerry Wood or Ryan Dempster, two guys that are back on the field because of Tim Kremchek and Jim Andrews? Would the Rays be in the position they're in if they'd had arm injuries, or if Ron Porterfield (and before him, Ken Crenshaw) didn't do such an outstanding job of keeping players on the field? The Red Sox, the White Sox, and the Diamondbacks are all winning teams with winning medical staffs. The two go together, so when you see the athletic trainers take the field at the All-Star Game, cheer for them. They deserve it as much as the players. Powered by the iPhone 3G, on to the injuries:
The stakes get raised in the NL Central by the Brewers and Cubs, but some of the other teams are still painting themselves into the picture.
Many looked at the Astros at the end of last season as a rebuilding situation. The Astros had gone 73-89 with a veteran-laden team, their most losses since 2000, as they finished fifth in the National League Central. Furthermore, general manager Tim Purpura and manager Phil Garner were fired in late August.
However, rebuild isn't part of owner Drayton McLane's vocabulary, which is why former GM Ed Wade was brought in as Purpura's replacement last September. "There is nothing like being a general manager, especially if you are a competitive person," said Wade, who was fired by Phillies in 2005 after eight years as their GM. "I'm thankful to have a chance to do this job again and I couldn't have asked to come into a better situation than a place where the owner wants to be competitive."
Injuries and trades reshuffle a few rotations, but look for at least one surprising late-season comeback.
Yovani Gallardo (120 DXL)
In all the hype surrounding the impending C.C. Sabathia trade, there are a few interesting injury notes. Sabathia comes in as the No. 2 starter for the Brewers, taking over the spot they thought Gallardo would be filling, except that Gallardo's currently out after surgery to repair his ACL. there was some discussion that he could be back before the end of the season, and while it sounded crazy at the time, the Brewers may have something here. Gallardo is already throwing from 45 feet and could be back by September. It's a long shot, but the idea of Gallardo slotting in, perhaps even in the bullpen, is intriguing. It will be difficult to build up his arm strength enough to move him right into the rotation, and the team usually looks to the long term, but Gallardo did heal quickly from his spring knee surgery. There's a chance we'll see him again in 2008, but this is almost completely dependent on whether Sabathia is the difference maker that the Brewers think he is.
Plus some Astro-physicality, a quashed Rays referendum, and news and notes from around the game.
You would think that the Yankees' starting pitching should be in shambles by now. Just consider that Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, the two rookies they were counting on heavily this season, are on the Disabled List and have zero wins between them. To make matters worse the ace of the staff, Chien-Ming Wang, is out until September after suffering a torn tendon in his foot two weeks ago.
The D'backs made an early splash in the Hot Stove league by dealing Curt Schilling to the Red Sox and getting Richie Sexson from the Brewers. The Royals, whether we believe it or not, are now employing one of the more savvy GMs in baseball. And the Phillies spent the off-season making themselves the favorite in the National League East. All this and much more news from Arizona, Kansas City, and Philadelphia in your Thursday edition of Prospectus Triple Play.
Alright, We're Spent: Arizona made an early splash during the Hot Stove season when, within a matter of days, they consummated the first two major trades of the off-season, dealing Curt Schilling to the BoSox and getting Richie Sexson from the Brewers in a classic quantity for quality deal.