It’s amazing how much news is happening this week in baseball. It’s almost like they need a whole network to show it all. You know, like the NBA and NFL have, just with more games. Show some of the great content of–maybe all the condensed games overnight so I can Tivo them. Do more things like Yankeeography and Nine Innings from Ground Zero that build the mythology of baseball. Can’t you see a Crossfire-style show called “Beer and Tacos”, facing off “Fat Scout” and “Pasty Stathead?” I know every week isn’t like this, but lots of them are. It keeps me wide awake.

Powered by Brian Wilson’s finally released masterpiece SMiLE on to the injuries…

  • I’m at a loss as to what to call Mark Loretta‘s season. Is it a breakout? Not really, since he was pretty darn good for the last couple seasons. It’s hardly a fluke, despite the near universal lack of recognition Loretta gets. Let’s just call it a surprise that he matched his 125th percentile PECOTA projection. With this surprise season nearly over, Loretta avoided ending it on a sour note. He was hit in the forearm by a 94mph heater, but X-rays were negative and the Padres believe he’ll be back on the field quickly.
  • The Cards expect to bring back Scott Rolen on Tuesday against the Astros. Rolen is running with a slight limp and will be watched closely. Sources are conflicted on whether he’s on “Edgar rules”–asked not to run hard. While one team official said that was the plan, the other said it was discarded since “Rolen is incapable of not playing 110%.” Rolen’s calf strain remains a dubious diagnosis to many, so this will be watched closely. Want to play medhead? It will be more interesting to see how Rolen stops than runs. The Cards aren’t sure what to do with Steve Kline either. His finger injury may keep him off the playoff roster.
  • After getting crushed by the Red Sox in only two-thirds of an inning, Kevin Brown has a last chance. His left hook to the wall has given him a goat tag he’ll wear like an albatross if George doesn’t get another ring. Brown will get one more start to convince everyone–mostly Joe Torre–that he deserves a spot on the roster, if not the rotation. Indications are that Jason Giambi will be on the roster for the Division Series. He’ll be used mostly as a pinch hitter or DH.
  • The Rangers late surge has come despite the absence of Alfonso Soriano (and half their bullpen). Soriano’s hamstring is making progress, a case of too little, too late. He could see some action in the last few days of the season, though there’s little reason to do so. Soriano is almost surely playing his only season in Texas and could be one of the first moves this off-season. Texas’ reconstituted front office is hoping to avoid Kansas City’s fate, and thinks Soriano could bring some pitching depth.

    “He can do everything. Except play baseball.” That was the word from a Tigers team official on Carlos Guillen. Guillen will have knee surgery on Tuesday to repair a damaged–but not ruptured–right anterior cruciate ligament. The extent of the repairs will determine his prognosis; all early indications have him playing by spring training, but it is unclear if he’ll be game ready at that point.

  • I’m not sure how many comparisons will be made between Greg Maddux and Scott Kazmir over the latter’s career. I’m going to make one here at risk of sounding like an apologist. In 1987, Maddux was a rookie pitcher on the cusp of being returned to Iowa. Sure, he had potential but no results at that stage, showing little of the form that would make him one of the all-time greats. An Eric Show pitch left Andre Dawson bleeding in the dirt and Maddux didn’t hesitate to put a fastball into Benito Santigo in the next inning. I won’t advocate beanballs or team chemistry, but over and over, people around Maddux point to that moment as the one where he made The Leap. Kazmir did that on Tuesday, despite having given up nothing to the Red Sox. I still don’t like Kazmir’s mechanics and I’m not ready to call him a potential star, but I like moxie.
  • The Pirates can exhale now. The worst possible scenario would be Kip Wells following Sean Burnett onto the operating table. Instead, Jim Andrews saw Wells, and Wells came away with his old elbow intact. The bad news is that the diagnosis was severe tendonitis of the UCL, meaning Wells isn’t in the clear yet. He won’t be pitching this winter and the Pirates can only hope their ace is healthy in the spring.

  • Quick Cuts: Add Shannon Stewart to the list of Twins that’s catching some rest this last week. He’ll be back for a couple games and should be ready for the playoffs at as near 100% as anyone can be after a marathon season…If you’re counting on much from the Padres this week, scale it back. They’ll be out of the race soon–but it was a heck of a year–and a virus is making the rounds of the clubhouse. It’s particularly nasty…Rod Barajas is out with back spasms, hurting the chances of the Rangers to make a late surge. They seem to have lost confidence in Gerald Laird as well…Expect an announcement on the Washington Federals to be made before Thursday. Stan Kasten, former Braves president, is a late entry for ownership, but could be a sudden favorite…Thanks, Peter…There’s a lot of backstabbing and even frontstabbing coming from the Mets right now. Rick Peterson hasn’t been hit by much mud yet, but it doesn’t stop his critics from throwing it. He should just point to the talent he had to work with and the results of pitchers like Braden Looper to answer anything…Seriously, go get SMiLE right now. Something timeless can’t be thirty-five years late.
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