The Astros got a dose of Mark Prior on Wednesday, but they also got some good news regarding their ace, Roy Oswalt. Oswalt, torn groin and all, threw on Tuesday with a “minimum of pain.” He’ll take the mound on Friday to test the leg, and if all goes well, he could be back in the lineup sometime the following week. I can’t imagine a scenario where Oswalt could stay healthy for an extended period of time, but the Astros have managed to convince him to take on the risk.
Another day, another diagnosis for Curt Schilling. The injury to his knee is now described as a bone bruise, but trainer Paul Lessard has been quoted as saying there is no structural damage. As before, the symptoms don’t match the diagnosis well, and if the femur and tibia impacted, one would expect some damage to the meniscus. A torn meniscus’ most common symptom? Locking, which is how Schilling described his injury when it occurred. Keep your eye on Schilling’s next start.
The Expos have shut down Tony Armas Jr. and Orlando Hernandez for the remainder of the season. It’s unclear how both fit into the plans of the Homeless Expos in 2004, but both are likely to need relocation services in one form or another. The bigger question is what type of team would take a flyer on either of these types of pitchers–the young but injury prone hurler on the downslope of potential, or the wily veteran with the Hollywood story but questionable age.
In early August, the Mariners demanded money for their playoff strips. You get to pay up front for every possible home game, plus a non-refundable handling fee (a ridiculous $35). In the past, I’ve complained about this a little, particularly the absurdity of having to pay for hypothetical one-game playoffs at the end of the season. It’s all part of their plan to get your money earlier and earlier, and what they don’t take in in non-refundable fees, they stick in a bank and rack up interest dollars. With seven teams in each league able to hit their fans up for playoff money with a straight face, that works out to be a lot of money.
I want baseball to be healthy. Other sports are edging ahead of baseball when it comes to outrageous fees (you might get to pay to stay on the waiting list for season tickets, for instance). So in the interest of keeping my favorite sport ahead of the times, I’d like to present my bill for the 2010 Seattle Mariners playoff strip, presented to me by a time-traveling me (who annoyingly refuses to give me betting advice, stock market tips, or even to travel further back in time and give high-school Derek a particularly important piece of information on one of my/his/our girlfriends that would have prevented a lot of misery all around):
Only twice during the free agent era have the Pirates signed a player of sufficiently high profile to warrant draft compensation to the team he departed (although why this was the case with 1979 signing Andy Hassler is unclear. He had no profile). Until 1998, Pittsburgh free agent signings were of the superannuated veteran, high-risk/low upside variety. As such, the Pirates paid for the last 53 games of Gene Tenace’s career, the last 40 games of Amos Otis, and the last 72 games of Sixto Lezcano. Only the 1979 signing of outfielder Lee Lacy, an undistinguished part-timer with the Dodgers from 1972, paid dividends. Lacy was not blessed with great power or plate judgment, but in six Pittsburgh seasons he was a consistent .300 hitter. Even he, though, must be marked with an asterisk as he was, allegedly, one of the narcotics abusers infesting the Pittsburgh clubhouse at the time. Then again, drugs in the clubhouse didn’t bother anyone in Pittsburgh at the time, so perhaps it isn’t worth mentioning.
In both the 1997 and 1998 off-seasons, the club once again sallied into the free agent market. Pitcher Mike Williams was signed after going 6-16 with a 5.52 ERA from 1996-1997. The following winter, Mike Benjamin, a utility infielder with one of the all-time weak bats (.224/.275/.337 in 507 games through 1998) to a four-year, $3.25 million contract. For a franchise that claimed to have limited resources, Benjamin was a disastrous addition and a clear sign that the owner and his general manager (still Bonifay) did not understand that baseball had entered the age of the two-way infielder.
The Diamondbacks are killing themselves on the basepaths. The Royals can’t beat their division rivals lately. The Phillies have received a banner year from Placido Polanco. These and other news and notes out of Arizona, Kansas City, and Philadelphia in today’s Prospectus Triple Play.