If I were making even the major league minimum, I would think an off-season visit to a woodworking group and a couple hundred bucks investment in various types of stock would be worth the risk. The cost difference between a bat made out of Padauk and a bat made out of maple really wouldn’t be all that great, and if it can get you 2% more velocity off the bat, that might be the difference between a multi-year deal that sets you up for life and running the produce department at Giant Eagle. After all, gaining an advantage by going against the rules is called cheating. Gaining an advantage by working around the rules to an area not previously considered by the rulemakers is innovation.
Vlad Guerrero and Zach Day go down, adding to the Expos’ injuries woes. Jerome Williams gets his chance with Kurt Ainsworth on the DL. Carlos Delgado is crushing everything in sight. Plus other news and notes out of Montreal, San Francisco, and Toronto.
If you’ve followed any of the media coverage surrounding Sammy Sosa’s corked bat, you’re probably already tired of it. If you’ve seen Rick Reilly on ESPN, looking as if his head might explode with anger at any moment, while implying that it’s a short step from corking a bat to being hopped up on steroids, you’re probably dog tired of it.
So I’m going to leave Sosa out of this for a while.
The Expos got about the worst possible news Thursday, regarding Vladimir Guerrero. Early thought that his back pain was the result of the hard turf in Montreal and would clear up once he got to grass turned out to be incorrect. An MRI showed a mildly bulging, herniated disk but significant nerve impingement. The likely course of action is a DL stint and epidural injections to control the inflamed disk and attempt to reduce the impingement. This is a relatively easy injury to come back from in a matter of weeks, if not too severe. But reports on the severity of Vlad’s injury have varied. The Montreal Gazette reports that “Guerrero probably will be sidelined for an extended period of time.” Vlad will likely see renowned spine surgeon Robert Watkins for a second opinion. The loss of their superstar not only hurts the Expos on the field, but also reduces the potential trade value for Vlad.
There’s been some confusion regarding Randy Johnson, but I spoke to team sources yesterday afternoon and got a bit more clarity on the situation. Johnson and the staff are discussing using Synvisc, an artificial lubricant, in his knee, but this is more a long-term solution. Johnson fully intends to pitch for several more years and does not want to undergo a series of “scrape and tape” knee scopes or have the same type of arthritic degeneration seen in other players. The Synvisc injections should not affect his injury timetable.
Tom Glavine went only one inning yesterday with uncharacteristic wildness. Leaving the game after 54 pitches, Glavine reported “severe stiffness” in his pitching elbow. Reader Greg Sigountos wrote in to let me know that Glavine said in a postgame interview that the problem was caused by adjustments he made as a result of his recent blister. Look–cascading! Since loss of command often is a sign of UCL problems, this bears watching and any injury would be just another nail in the coffin for Steve Phillips.
Last week, Joe Garagiola Jr. made the latest in a long series of heavily-criticized trades in which he gave up young players developed by the Diamondbacks for older talent. While the Byung-Hyun Kim-for-Shea Hillenbrand deal doesn’t quite fit the pattern of his other swaps, it does share one important characteristic: it was largely panned by outside performance analysts.
I’m with them. While I can see a scenario in which the Diamondbacks win the deal, I think that they gave up too much talent for a player who is likely to be average or maybe a little above. The deal is especially problematic because the Snakes have third-base prospect Chad Tracy available, and Tracy is a comparable player to Hillenbrand right now, and comes with a lower price tag and a higher upside.
What keeps me from emptying both barrels on the deal is Garagiola’s track record. This isn’t the first time he’s made a trade that left me shaking my head, and yet, the Diamondbacks have been one of the most successful franchises in baseball since they entered the league.
Statheads…often lament the intentional walk with an argument that usually goes like this: With a runner on third and one out, the expected runs scored for the inning are X. With the bases loaded and one out, that number is Y (higher than X). This argument normally makes sense, but in a situation where one run is all that matters, the manager should instead try to maximize the probability that no runs will score…Does walking the bases loaded with one out make sense on this basis?
As D.H. points out, the only thing that each manager need concern himself with is whether that one essential run scores. All the strategic elements of the game–hitting, baserunning, pitching, defense–are profoundly different under these conditions. What’s a manager to do?
Boyd Nation serves up the second installment in his series on college baseball and the College World Series with a guide to evaluating college pitchers (aka why Mark Prior is better than Todd Pennington).
The gasp was actually audible in Great American when Ken Griffey pulled off a swing, clutching at his shoulder. It was an emotional roller-coaster, as Griffey took the next Mike Mussina shot into the bleachers, then left the game. The worst-case scenario of a reinjured right shoulder wasn’t the case, luckily. Instead, Griffey appears to have injured his right biceps. It may not be a cascade, but likely, Griffey is using more arm in his swing or perhaps got his strength a bit out of balance in all the rehab done to get him back. He’s currently listed as day-to-day, but with the depth the Reds have in the outfield–and Bob Boone’s cluelessness in how to utilize it properly–they can afford to take their time.
Curiously, the Dodgers listed ‘strained medial collateral ligament’ as the cause when they placed Darren Dreifort on the DL today. The current thought is that the arthritic problems in Dreifort’s knee were the result of a cascade. This particular cascade was the result of the lack of cartilage causing a hypermobile joint, overstressing the ligaments. Finally, the MCL was strained a bit too much and now Dreifort once again finds himself on the DL. For now, he’ll avoid surgery and will hope that a new bracing system will help him pitch. The Dodgers are working hard to figure out how to best use Dreifort to maximum advantage while minimizing his exposure.
While it’s not a big breaking news story to UTK readers, Troy Percival is expected to return to the Angels bullpen on Saturday. The worry now is that he’s altered his motion significantly enough to endanger his arm in…yes, a cascade. There was an article yesterday that had a scout worried about the torque that Percival was putting on his arm since he’d altered the leg kick. I haven’t seen the motion, but it’s worth tucking that tidbit away. In other Halo news, Darin Erstad appears to be doing well in his rehab and is due back early next week.
The Angels’ defense has fallen hard; Sammy Sosa was caught with a corked bat (perhaps you’ve heard?); and the Tigers have to redefine the term, ‘Star Performer.’ All this and other news regarding the Anaheim Angels, Chicago Cubs, and Detroit Tigers.
Melvin Mora’s earned more than a token All-Star invite. Ron Belliard’s injury couldn’t have come at a worse time. Armando Benitez shows the dangers of jumping to conclusions based on small sample sizes. Plus more news and notes from the Orioles, Rockies, and Mets, BP-style.
On second thought, maybe that is broken. An MRI showed a small fracture and a chip on the pitching hand of Curt Schilling. This isn’t an indictment of Paul Lessard or the D’backs staff–everyone I talked to said this is possible and that the MRI was timely and definitive. Schilling’s biggest problem is not holding the ball, as has been reported, but the extension of the hand as he releases. The timetable for his return will be based almost entirely around how fast he can extend the hand pain-free and symptom-free. Most of the guesses I’m hearing are around a month, which is definitely bad news for the Snakes.
The training room in the BOB is a crowded place these days. Matt Mantei is in there getting a cortisone shot in his pitching shoulder, Mike Koplove is getting treatment, Brandon Webb is working out his tendinitis and should be back in the minimum, David Dellucci is still a bit concussed and cut up after a collision, and Randy Johnson is still a week away from taking the mound. That’s a lot of bodies.
The Dodgers are trying to figure ways around the problem of Darren Dreifort. Talk has backed off from surgery and instead, they’re going to the “Sunday Pitcher” theory. (I’m sure someone will step up and tell me who that theory was named after.) Dreifort would start on a schedule different from the other pitchers, spotting him in on extended rest with the hopes of getting 20 starts from him and having him available in the playoffs, if they make it that far.
Sammy Sosa was ejected from yesterday’s game with the Devil Rays for using a corked bat. The lumber broke on a grounder to second base in the first inning, and after examining the fragment, crew chief Tim McClelland ejected Sosa.
Almost immediately, speculation began that perhaps Sosa was cheating all along, that his 505 career home runs, his MVP award, his All-Star appearances, and his status as a baseball icon were all the result of cork. Like the steroid story that persisted through last summer, it’s just another way for the media to tear down a player, to point and say, “he’s not that good.”