The 2006 class is a tough one to beat among a strong recent group of rookie classes.
Earlier this week, the folks at Beloit College released their annual MindsetList, a document designed to explain the cultural differences between the incoming class of college freshmen and the older faculty hired to teach them. The idea is to highlight the small and large ways the world has changed in the last 20 years by mentioning things that were true during the life span of oldsters that were never true for those under 20, e.g., the existence of things like a telephone cord, a country called Czechoslovakia, and a baseball commissioner not named Bud. For me, a man who fervently hopes Jamie Moyer comes back next spring to ensure I won’t have to face being older than every major-league ballplayer, this is always a time to reflect on youth and age, both in life and in baseball—especially so this year, since the current Mindset List includes a reference to the term Annus Horribilus, which I happened to use in last year’s BP Annual, but which I now know dates me almost as much as saying “23 Skidoo.”
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The White Sox pitcher's detached lat muscle is such a rare baseball occurrence that there is nothing comparable.
Jake Peavy (strained lat, ERD 10/4)
Not just strained, but detached. That was the piece of info that took this from being bad news for Peavy and the White Sox to being the worst-case scenario. Peavy has pulled the muscle out at the insertion. That's the point where it connects to the upper arm, as seen here. It's not the best comparison, but if you've ever broken down a chicken, this is very similar, though obviously there's a size (and species) difference. It's the same kind of muscles and tendons that are pulled apart when taking the wings off before adding the delicious sauce. Peavy will in all likelihood need surgery to reattach the muscle. He'll get a second opinion, maybe more, but doctors and therapists I spoke with said a complete detachment of this type can't heal on its own. This detachment is what differentiates this strain (and yes, it's still a strain; a detachment is just a specific kind of rupture, which itself is a complete strain) from the ones suffered by other pitchers, such as Brad Penny, Josh Beckett, and Ben Sheets. They had strains in the "belly" of the large muscle rather than at the thinner, weaker point nearer the arm. The cause is unknown and probably always will be. SBNation quoted me early in saying this was Don Cooper's fault, but that's not what I meant at all. In changing anything about a pitcher's delivery, there can be consequences, just as if a pitcher instinctively changes something to compensate for an injury. That's why it's so tough to see a pitcher with terrible mechanics but good results; even a small change might change things for the worse. The pitcher has done this for such a long time that his body, even his bones, have adjusted to that specific motion. The question now becomes whether or not Peavy can come back at all. There are no comparables for this. Again, I went to my doctors and therapists, who think that he can come back. "It's not a cuff," said one ortho, "and putting the muscle back in place isn't difficult. It's an anchor. It's not like there's multiple structures or ways to do it really." A physical therapist put it more succinctly: "If a nail comes out of your wall, you hammer it back in place. That's all this is." We've seen players come back from detached muscles before. The one that immediately comes to mind for me is the dreadful image of Dean Palmer's biceps strain. The muscle retracted, visibly rolling up his arm as he screamed in pain. I'm glad that's not on YouTube. Peavy is looking at a significant rehab and most likely his season is done. When he might be back on a mound remains to be seen.
Ready and rested, Will dives into dissecting a week's worth of breakdowns and injuries.
¡Hola, amigos! Acabo de regresar de una semana en Mexico - una semana de playa hermosa, la cerveza, y el beisbol no. (Mi espanol mejoro un poco tambien.) Oh, wait... English now. A week away provides a perspective, the same way that a fortieth birthday does. Being away, especially during a week where player after important player seemed to go down, reminded me why I do this every day. I see baseball through the lens of health and while sometimes, it would be a bit more accurate to wait or do something like write once a week or so, the story is lost. A player is injured-how bad is it? What is the medical staff doing? How are the players reacting? Is there a roster move? Is the team capable of filling in for the lost player? So much more happens than just the injury. Some of you missed having UTK here every day, some of you didn't, and the vast majority didn't notice, reading the rest of the content here. That's okay with me. I'm telling stories that involve injuries, not writing about injuries. It took me years to realize that and a beach. No matter ... a las lesions!
BP's dirty dozen makes their prognostications to generate the wisdom of at least one small crowd.
Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff predictions for the division standings and the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year) in the American and National Leagues. Each staff member's division standings predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results. In each table you'll find the average rank of each team in their division with first-place votes in parentheses, plus the results of our pre-season MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting. Picking favorites for the Wild Card for the respective leagues initially might have seemed easy, since the selections universally favored the second-place team in the AL East, while all but two voters picked their second-place teams in the NL East to earn the non-division champ playoff team, but a tie in the rankings had to be broken in favor of the team named the Wild Card winner on the most individual ballots, which is sure to upset some people.
For the MVP voting, we've slightly amended the traditional points system in place that's been used elsewhere, dropping fourth- and fifth-place votes to make it 10-7-5 for the MVP Award, and the regular 5-3-1 for the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Awards (that's 5 points for a first-place vote, 3 points for a second-place vote, etc.). Next to each of these selections we've listed the total number of ballots, followed by the total number of points, and then the number of first-place votes in parentheses, if any were received.
Will the lefty-mashing Brewers match up well with Philly, or will Phillies firepower and a strong pen make all the difference?
Less than three weeks ago, the Brewers came to Philadelphia holding a four-game lead in the wild-card race and carrying the league's second-best record despite a slump that had seen them lose seven of 10 to open September. By the end of the four-game set, the two teams were tied for the wild card. It was the start of a finishing kick in which the Phillies went 13-3, breezing past the Mets to claim their second division title in a row.
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:
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.
Some serious star power winds up on the DL for the Yankees, Braves, and Rockies.
Philip Hughes (60 DXL/$2.31 million)
At this time yesterday, there was a lot of question about the validity of Hughes' injury. The odd timing-he's fine, and then suddenly he's not?-led many to wonder, including me. The problem is this is my area and I'm supposed to know, and Hughes wasn't faking anything and the Yankees weren't playing a roster shell game. Instead, he's got a stress fracture of his ninth rib on his right (pitching) side. Wonder how something like this gets missed? Check out this MRI and see if you see it. Here's an X-ray, which is usually clearer; while this is at the fifth, not the ninth you can see that even something easy like a traumatic fracture isn't clear. Hughes' injury was a stress fracture, a small break that results from the strains of activity rather than an incident, and it's very painful. Hughes is likely to miss at least two months with recovery and then rebuilding his stamina. The pain that he played through would explain his poor start, but he'll have to come back and pitch well for it to be that simple. So, Mr. Hughes, my apologies and best wishes in your recovery.