Will Carroll's Under The Knife is called the "industry standard" by
Peter Gammons and that's good enough for us. Carroll's groundbreaking
work on injuries have led to it becoming a standard part of the
discussion in baseball. Whether you're a fantasy fan or checking out
how your team will be without a star, there's simply no other place to
get this kind of daily information.
Oftentimes injuries take a bit of time to affect a team. Statistics like MLVr and DLDL (dollars lost to disabled list) tell a part of the tale, but the Cubs/Cards game Tuesday night summed things up in a way that only a baseball play can. Ray Lankford ran a good route, as fast as he could, towards the ball that Aramis Ramirez dropped in for a double. The winning runs came racing home while Jim Edmonds watched from the bench. A groin strain kept Edmonds out of the lineup and away from a ball that he likely would have reached without drama. To further rub salt in the Cardinals' wound, Edmonds popped out to end the game. The groin strain isn't considered serious, but he will be limited for the next few games. It will be treated much like Albert Pujols' hamstring strain, buying the center fielder rest as a DH when they head across Missouri this weekend.
The Marlins will push Josh Beckett back in the rotation to give his back a bit more time to heal. His normal side session was halted due to pain, but sources say that Beckett insisted that he stay on schedule with his throwing program. Cooler heads prevailed and he's now scheduled to start Saturday. That start is in doubt, however. Beckett will need to prove he's healthy in a side session Thursday or Jack McKeon is making noises that Beckett will go back to the DL. Beckett is remaining quieter this time around, but clubhouse sources say he's growing more frustrated with the way he's being handled by McKeon.
On to the injuries...
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There's been a swell of interest in injuries, pitcher workloads, and sports medicine that's been making me very happy lately. Slate, for instance, has a very interesting piece up on sports injuries. At the same time, I've heard that you'll want to check out ESPN Magazine next week for something by yours truly. Add in the growing influence of the legions of fantasy players who want to know why so many of their players are on the DL, and injury analysis is hot. I'll also tip my cap to folks like PBATS, ASMI, Rick Wilton, and RotoWire. Now, it's time we try and make a difference. Because if continue to work, flip answers like "Players aren't as tough as they were back in my day" or "It must be steroids" will disappear into the mist, like they very well should.
Powered by wheatgrass juice, on to the injuries...
Powered by wheatgrass juice, on to the injuries...
A change last year from long-time trainer Kent Biggerstaff to a new staff makes it difficult to assess with statistical certainty, but many of the more bizarre medical stories last season came from Pittsburgh. Whether it was the 'sudden discovery' of an injury to Jason Bay or the saga of Brandon Lyon's shoulder, the Pirates' medical staff raised questions around the league. Coming into the 2004 season, the Pirates will be facing the same challenges. Most of their offense last year was expected to come from the bats of Brian Giles and Jason Kendall. While Kendall remains, his name continues to come up in trade talks. Giles was dealt for, among others, Jason Bay and Oliver Perez, two players with significant injury concerns. While contention in the NL Central probably isn't possible in '04, health could be the difference between being bad and being the Tigers.
In 1999, the White Sox had a winning percentage of .466, then vaulted to a
.580 winning percentage last season. Any team that improves so substantially
in one season is almost certain to fall back the next (see an earlier column
on the Detroit Tigers for a discussion of this principle). When Ron Schueler
said last year that the White Sox had arrived a year early, he was accused
of poormouthing. But just as he was when he made the White Flag Trade,
Schueler was right. Chicago's miracle season was made in the first half of
2000. Before the All-Star break, the ChiSox had a winning percentage of
.632, but managed only .533 afterward. The team's Pythagorean winning
percentage in the second half was .528. The high overall win total was
attributable to two hot months, April (17-8) and June (20-7). Otherwise, the
White Sox were 58-52 (.527), a more typical progression from the previous
season. The second half of 2000 might be the better standard to use when
considering this season's performance.
Looked at that way, this season is something shy of a disaster. As of July
29, the White Sox were winning at a .495 pace, just one game under .500.
Their Pythagorean figure of .480 was a bit lower. It's an improvement over
1999, but a drop-off from 2000, even if we confine our analysis to last year
's second half. Something has gone wrong, but what?