As I get ready to head to Cleveland and meet everyone at the first Cleveland Feed–and due to cancellations, we have ONE slot open (first come, first serve)–and I resist the urge to throw solid objects through my TV screen, I’m also excited about Baseball Prospectus Radio. If you haven’t heard the latest show in the archive, check it out: Scott did a phenomenal job with the Fay Vincent interview. The upcoming show is going to be exciting as well. Tonight, I had the chance to speak with one legend, and tomorrow I’ll speak with another. I hope you’ll like the results.

Powered by Oaken Barrel Gnaw Bone Pale Ale, onto the injuries…

  • If you saw a 10-game win streak coming out of the Brewers, would you please forward me the Powerball numbers for next month? With all that good feeling emanating out of the Cheese State, though, something had to come rain on the win parade. Geoff Jenkins is out, likely for the season, after breaking his thumb while sliding into home plate. It was a feet-first slide, but when he reached for the plate, his hand contacted with Jason Larue‘s shinguard. The only decision left is whether a splint will be enough or if he’ll need a pin inserted. Jenkins’ season ends early for the second year in a row, but also for the second year in a row, he should be ready for spring training with no ill effects. (Yes, I’m waiting to see who they call up anxiously.)
  • One of the big questions in the early season was how Todd Helton would perform while dealing with back problems. Answer? Pretty well, even after adjusting for Planet Coors. Recently, Helton has reported that his back is feeling “loose.” While you wouldn’t want to hear that from your teenage daughter, it’s OK coming from a slugging first baseman. Helton’s results have been on an upswing as well, so the Rockies are hoping that he and Preston Wilson can finish out the year strong and build for 2004.
  • Give points to Matt Morris for guts and pain tolerance. He put on a great performance against Carlos Zambrano and the Cubs on Thursday despite having an ankle that visibly hobbled him. Late in the game, the ankle buckled when it appeared Morris was preparing to slide into third. He came back to the mound and couldn’t locate his breaking ball, but managed to get through the inning on location and deception. Morris had good velocity, so while the shoulder concerns are fading, the ankle appears to be something that could pop back up in his next couple starts.
  • The Yankees have enough problems with David Wells‘ attitude and Jeff Weaver racking up frequent flyer miles, but there’s some concern growing about Jason Giambi. After being hit on the hand, he’s gone hitless over two games. Giambi was rested last night in hope that rest and treatment will get him ready for the epic Red Sox series this weekend.
  • There’s a lot of debate among Pirate fans about Oliver Perez. Sure, this happens all the time after trades that involve sending your consensus best player away. Why am I involved? They’re invoking the medheads. Given that some of the Pirates recent acquisitions have come in a bit worse for wear, and given that Perez hasn’t lived up to his hype in 2003, Bucs fans are worrying that they got damaged goods. I talked to every source I could find that had seen Perez this season–both in San Diego and Portland–and few had any worry for Perez that they don’t already have for any other young pitcher. I was also reminded that Perez has been pitching a lot longer than most, and that while some worry about the mileage on his arm, he also has more experience to draw from. I’m not overly worried about Perez, but I would have wanted Xavier Nady in the deal as well.
  • Jeff Zimmerman received the first of two expert opinions on his problematic, painful elbow yesterday, and Lewis Yocum said he was “optimistic.” OK, what does that mean? Almost nothing from a medical standpoint, but it’s sure better than scheduling surgery. Zimmerman was, at best, going to make a cameo appearance, but the light at the end of his tunnel could be coming next year, which is something to be optimistic about. The Rangers are also going to be waiting for Kevin Mench just a bit longer. Pain in his wrist has pushed back his return by about ten days.
  • It’s been a good week for reader e-mail. It’s not that I get stupid mail the rest of the time, but some of you have really raised your game to a new level recently. Is it the playoff push or just a salary year? Reader Robert Hymes checks in with this on John Smoltz:

    “That’s very interesting about Smoltz. When I listened to the Giants-Braves series, I thought there was a completely different reason why Cox didn’t use Smoltz against Barry Bonds: Bonds’s lifetime record against Smoltz. The .300 BA isn’t overwhelming, but the .750 slugging percentage and .460 OBP, not to mention 8 HR in 60 AB–one per 7.5–look pretty good. And these are lifetime figures, not just the last few years, so they include all the years when those weren’t everyday numbers even for Bonds. Smoltz strikes Bonds out more than the average bear–13 in 60 AB–but still. I have to admit the fact that he was about to go on the DL now sounds like a better explanation; but I wonder if the lifetime figures were on Cox’s mind too.”

    Great points, Robert.

  • The Braves bullpen looks like a mess right now, adding Kevin Gryboski to the DL and struggling to find live arms to fill in behind a rotation that seems to be improving. Looking like a mess now, according to some of the best Braves watchers I have, is more about not being a mess in October. While being 10 games up in your division heals a lot of ills, it does give a team a lot of opportunities to get healthy, rested and ready.
  • Dustin Hermanson was a late scratch from his scheduled start yesterday for the Giants due to back spasms. Hemanson reportedly woke up with severe pain and did not pass go, heading straight for the training room. Treatment wasn’t able to loosen him up enough in time for the game, but the problem is not considered serious and Felipe Alou was quoted as saying that he expects Hermanson to make his next start.
  • Kurt Ainsworth was once a Giant, and like so many of their players this season, is now injured. He’s now an Oriole, and due to some great detective work by the Giants medical staff, is about a week away from returning to activity. The Orioles haven’t yet made a plan for Ainsworth available (and no one has leaked it to me either), but I’d expect him to make a couple starts before the end of the season on strict counts.

If you haven’t seen the story about Phil Mickelson, the top ranked golfer, getting a tryout with the Toledo Mud Hens, it was on the up and up. The team will have Mickelson throw in a workout for them tomorrow and, if they decide to “sign” him, he’ll likely start on Sunday. Nice gimmick, but a few of the guys I spoke to in Toledo say he throws an assortment of junk but that he actually could be credible.

So another week of UTK has passed and it’s time to sit back and watch baseball. Lots of great games and I encourage you to go get a look at the last weekend of minor league ball if you have the chance. I’ll be getting my first look at Jacobs Field, so it’s going to be a good one for me. Be safe and I’ll see you on Tuesday.

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