Well, we’ve made it through the Futures Game and Home Run Derby without anyone getting injured. There’s still tomorrow’s game–the one that “counts”–however, and I’m halfway expecting somebody to go all Pete Rose on some catcher. Let’s just hope that the players aren’t buying into the hype as much as the entire Fox network seems to be.

That said, as expected, it was a quiet day on Monday, which gave people more time to check out the archive of Baseball Prospectus Radio and e-mail me. People were equally divided on whether it was a good interview with Jim Palmer or a blindside hatchet job. Let me assure you the truth lies somewhere in the middle, and that Mr. Palmer had more than one opportunity to speak for himself, and he declined each opportunity. I’ve given his agent the message that he has an open invitation for a full hour on Baseball Prospectus Radio to discuss the game in whatever format he wishes, so I’ve done all I can to be fair despite my desire to go Paul Teutel on him. Let’s hope he does all he can to educate himself about the game he played so well.

  • Sometimes no news is good news; sometimes no news is just no news. As Vladimir Guerrero moved from the University of Miami over to the Expos’ spring training base of Melbourne, Florida, the cone of silence went with him. While the Expos have no official comment, there’s very little in the way of information of the unofficial sort that I hang my hat on. All I can confirm at this stage is that Vlad has taken batting practice more than once, there has been no “setback”–though we could debate the meaning of the word for days–and there is no reason to doubt that Guerrero could be heading to a rehab start in just days. The non-waiver trading deadline of July 31st is important to this rehab, so keep that in mind while monitoring his progress.
  • If you watched the Home Run Derby, you learned that you won’t get that hour of your life back and that Alex Rodriguez is an amazingly smart and well-prepared cat. If Cal Ripken Jr. wasn’t still alive, I’d say A-Rod was Ripken reincarnated. Rodriguez discussed his C6/7 injury and how he’s struggled with it a bit this season, but also mentioned this is the identical injury that Mike Sweeney is dealing with, and how Sweeney “might not be back this year.” If I didn’t know where Rodriguez got his info, I’d be worried that he was trying to take my job. He’s right–things aren’t looking good for Sweeney–but I would be surprised if he was out for the season.
  • While making a couple moves on Monday, the Dodgers masked the problems they’re having with Kevin Brown. While still scheduled to pitch on Saturday, that start is in serious question. He’s still having difficulty moving laterally, feels pain in his pitching motion, and generally has every problem you’d expect from a lower abdominal strain on a person with a bad back. Brown isn’t a normal human, so anything’s possible, but I’d expect him to stay on the DL a bit longer.
  • Paul Lo Duca was banged up making a sliding catch attempt while playing left field on Sunday. It’s yet another argument–like Phil Nevin–for not using players out of position. Lo Duca’s bruised and battered, but he’s also a tough catcher who won’t miss much time, if any, after losing a battle with the wall. Jim Tracy needs to keep him out of the outfield.
  • Mark Prior was able to complete an off-day throwing session with no pain. A key for him will be throwing off a mound without the serious bruise on his pitching shoulder affecting his mechanics. Prior is not expected to be used in the All-Star Game, but is expected to make his first scheduled start after the break.
  • I questioned Jason Isringhausen and the Cardinals during every step of his rehab and return, but at each and every step, Izzy stepped up and answered the question. Used recently in three successive outings, Izzy maintained both control and velocity. While he remains injury-prone, he deserves some credit for working hard to come back. I’ll now knock that monkey off his back and watch him as I would any other post-surgical pitcher.
  • I’m thinking of doing an article that will help explain what to look for when you’re watching a pitcher’s mechanics, but it’s nice to see that the mainstream media is picking up on some of the smarter things that Carlos Tosca is saying up in Toronto. When asked about Kelvim Escobar‘s recent poor start, Tosca broke down his mechanical failings quickly and directly. Good stuff.
  • The Rockies have listened to Rany Jazayerli, so surely they’ll turn things around in the second half, right? OK, it’s not quite that simple, so let’s give them Shawn Chacon back to slot into the rotation and chase 20 wins in the most extreme pitching environment there is. Chacon pitched well in a rehab outing at Triple-A Colorado Springs, and should be back in the rotation Saturday. I’m worried that he’s going to hit a wall if he hasn’t already.
  • At one time, he was a hot prospect. He threw a no-hitter. Now, he’ll be remembered as a piece of the Scott Rolen deal and as another victim of a labrum tear. Bud Smith will head under the knife for a second repair of a SLAP tear. There’s some early evidence that open repairs of labrums has such a low incidence of success that it is almost contra-indicated. If someone out there has him hidden deep on a roster, let go.
  • I’m getting an FAQ together that will be addressed in the mid-season reviews that you’ll see later this week (while I’m in California), but I’ll debut a bit of it here. The players I’m most concerned about heading into the second half, in no particular order: Austin Kearns (shoulder), Scott Rolen (neck), Mike Sweeney (neck), Jeremy Bonderman (Kingman), Dontrelle Willis (workload), Carlos Zambrano (workload), Roy Oswalt (groin/workload), Woody Williams (workload), and if one of the A’s Big Three doesn’t go down, then Rick Peterson knows something that the rest of us don’t.

I’ll see you later. Better yet, why don’t we TALK later? You can call me at 1-800-TALK-2-90 from 3-4 p.m. Indy time on the Will Carroll Baseball Hour.

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