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It all comes back to health.

Yesterday’s Diamondbacks/Red Sox trade hinged not on talent–that was easy
enough to agree on–and not on money, but on how the health of a couple of
D’backs pitchers would affect their depth. Whether you think the Sox helped
their pitching, the Snakes helped their putrid offense, or that there will be more
deals cascading from this one, ignoring health just isn’t possible.

I’ll leave the trade analysis to others here at BP, but this is one where the
numbers I watch (VORP, MLVr) don’t agree with how most will analyze this trade.

Onto the injuries:

  • As I stated in the intro, the key to the Byung-Hyun Kim-for-Shea Hillenbrand deal was the relative health of Matt Mantei and
    Brandon Webb. If both return in good time, the team would have
    enough pitching depth to deal away Kim. Both Mantei and Webb were sent back to
    Phoenix for MRIs, and because the deal was consummated we have to assume that
    nothing horrible was found. Mantei’s pitching shoulder continues to be a
    problem, even as he maintains his velocity. Bob Brenly’s lame-brained
    description–“he can’t comb his hair, but he can throw the ball 98 mph”–doesn’t tell us anything other than Mantei has some muscular problems, a common occurrence with shoulders in extreme fatigue. Webb’s pitching elbow is
    much more of a concern, and we’re only guessing that no tear was found.

  • Just hours after saying that Richard Hidalgo was improving and would
    stay off the DL, the Astros spun hard and placed Hidalgo on the list. What
    changed? Hidalgo’s diagnosis. Instead of being flu-like in nature, the virus
    appears to be mononucleosis-like and potentially contagious.

  • Word from Toronto is that Justin Miller‘s surgery on his pitching arm
    turned up not just a labrum tear, but a serious impingement, much like that
    seen in Trevor Hoffman‘s shoulder. The timetable will be similar, so expect Miller back around spring training 2004. What’s that? Hoffman’s supposed to be back around the All-Star break? That’s funny.

  • Just an hour after coming on the radio with me, Twins prospect Michael Cuddyer came up lame in the first inning of a doubleheader. Rounding
    third, Cuddyer limped home and headed straight into the clubhouse. Nothing
    makes a 10-hour bus ride–yes, the Twins’ Triple-A team will bus from
    Indianapolis to Rochester, N.Y.–like a bad right hammy. Cuddyer and most of
    his teammates are raking the ball, so this is a tough break for a guy fighting
    to find a way back to the big leagues.

  • If the Esteban Yan deal didn’t tell you that the Cardinals weren’t
    telling you everything, you won’t listen to me. Jason Isringhausen and
    the Cards are throwing up smoke screens, having Izzy pitch simulated games
    where no one can see him while talk of rehab assignments is lost between the
    smoke and the mirrors. What’s let out into the media has as much spin as a
    Tiger Woods iron and as much clarity as Tom Waits on a Jim Beam bender. There’s double talk about back-to-back and day after night, but hidden between the
    lines is the fact that Isringhausen is not going to single-handedly rebuild a
    dreadful pen, even if healthy…and he’s not.

  • No team is more conscious of heart concerns than the Cards, so it’s better to
    be overcautious. Dustin Hermanson felt light-headed and short of breath
    and was admitted to the hospital for testing. Luckily, there were no negative
    findings and Hermanson should be ready to play very soon. While it sounds
    goofy now, Hermanson did the right thing. Anything less and we didn’t learn
    from Darryl Kile.

  • Jim Edmonds should avoid the DL after a slight separation of his
    intracostal cartilage and bruised ribs. Not to make light, but it should only
    hurt when he breathes. After the initial pain leaves and the vicodin kicks in,
    Edmonds should be ready to play and will surely dive and hurt himself again.

  • X-rays were negative last night on Brian Jordan‘s left hand, but he’s
    in a removable cast and unlikely to play for several days. The DL remains a
    possibility since swelling was described by team sources as “extreme.” One
    source said “he looked like he was holding a balloon.” Add in a dose of
    whiplash from a dive/face plant, and Jordan could use a short vacation.

  • Is this the inevitable injury that derails something of a comeback by Mr. Glass, Darren Dreifort? A recurrence of
    pain in his surgically repaired left knee altered his pitching mechanics
    significantly, but Dreifort refused to use the knee–or any injury–as an
    excuse. Somewhat admirable, I guess. Dreifort’s knee will have to respond to
    treatment over the next couple days or more drastic measures will need to be
    taken, such as more surgery. (As an aside, who is baseball’s David Dunn now that Cal Ripken is
    gone?)

  • Why isn’t Curtis Leskanic pitching? The likely answer–he’s hurt–isn’t true in this case. The Brewers feel they’re close to dealing the reliever and don’t know if they can keep him healthy if he’s pitching. (This is the point where I hang the caveat emptor sign.) The Brewers are at least
    self-aware and hopeful that they can offload Leskanic’s contract. Inside the
    Brewers organization, however, this line of thinking isn’t taking. Despite
    legions of injuries up and down the roster, few inside the team have much
    confidence in their ability to develop pitchers of any sort. One player told
    me recently: “If we draft a pitcher, we’ll just screw him up. I don’t know why
    they bother.”

  • The most recent chapter in the saga of Mo Vaughn may close soon.
    Sources in New York say that Vaughn, with at least eight consultations behind
    him, has surgery scheduled for Friday. There’s no word yet on who will do the
    surgery or what the procedure will be. Vaughn is in all likelihood done for
    2003 and quite possibly just done.

  • Quick Cuts: Ryan Freel heads to the DL with a torn left hamstring, and
    the Reds continue to leave Adam Dunn on the bench…Jeff Kent‘s left hip
    is nothing to worry about. There was no truck involved…Scott Elarton
    had a good start, but I’m still not ready to say that labrum surgery is any
    easier to come back from than elbow surgery.

  • Has anyone ever done a “Where Are They Now?” on the kids in the National
    Spelling Bee?

  • This week’s BPR–as I’ve been telling you–is yours. Callers will be taken
    and we’ll talk about what YOU want to talk about all hour long. We’re going to
    have jam-packed phone lines, so be ready. What’s the number? We’re paying for
    the call: 1-800-TALK-290. The ground rules? Be ready, be quick, and we cannot
    answer any questions that take more than 30 seconds to handle, so save
    the in-depth ones for e-mail.

I might be one of few guys in the world that can watch a horrific movie like
The Musketeer and turn it into thoughts on baseball. Mena Suvari aside, movies and
baseball have something in common: Role players are needed on winning teams.
Some of my favorite actors are role players, guys that don’t win the fight or
get the girl, but that somehow you remember when you leave the theater and
quote their lines years later. The thing I’m learning–both in movies and
baseball–is that few of these role players can be that good for that long.
Tim Roth is one of my all-time
favorites, great in Reservoir Dogs, Four Rooms, and Rob Roy, but I think the
last good movie he made was Everyone Says I Love You, in which he had a very
small part. Someone please get this guy a good part before he turns into
Lenny Harris.

Don’t forget the All-Star Home Run Derby Trip and Feed. Seats are going
quickly. Before then, I’ll be in Louisville on June 14 (a Saturday) and St.
Louis on June 26 (a Thursday). If anyone’s interested in organizing Feeds
there, I’m available.