If you’re living without Extra Innings or MLB.tv, you got a taste of it today. ESPN had three games, and I sat through most of them, plus the Cubs/Reds game on WGN. That’s a lot of baseball, yet to the painful ending of the Giants/Padres game, I never said “no mas,” staying on the edge of my seat for better than 12 hours. Sure, I could have been at Wrigley Field with my pal, Dan, but that would have been just too painful. There’s no roller coaster, no woman, no drug that does to my heart what baseball does. I’m not sure how much I can take.
I’ll be back for more today.
On to the injuries …
- I’m going to connect some dots and get pretty speculative here, so hang with me. Both Brad Penny and Chris Carpenter are out for the playoffs due to nerve irritations in their pitching arms. This is an unusual injury, so unusual that Frank Jobe states that he’s never seen something like this before. Seeing two unusual injuries coming so closely together makes me look for similarities. I can only find one: both Carpenter and Penny have had labrum problems. Carpenter’s have been well-documented, but the health of Penny’s arm was also questioned over the last two seasons. Is it possible that the swelling in the shoulder is putting the nerve under additional tension? Dr. Jobe seems to indicate that a lack of flexibility contributed to the problem. Given that pitchers with labrum tears are now beginning to return to baseball, this may be an injury we’ll see more often.
- It would explain a lot if Octavio Dotel had been playing the last few weeks with a sore elbow. Trainer Larry Davis says it’s sore, but manageable. Dotel says it’s fine. I’ll just point to the results and say that those speak for themselves. The A’s, Cubs and Giants all may miss the playoffs; if so, it will be the bullpens that will get the hardest looks.
- As teams set their playoff rosters and rotations, the Braves are still juggling theirs. Jaret Wright is making progress with his injured ankle. It’s not a question now if he will pitch in the playoffs, but when. Wright was expected to be the Game One starter for the Braves; he’ll now shuffle back to Game Two or Three, giving him a bit more time to heal and get some work on the side to make sure his mechanics stay normal. Wright and Mike Hampton will make up two-thirds of a playoff rotation; neither is 100 percent.
- It was a brutal loss for the Giants, ending with an injury. Dustan Mohr ranged to the line to make a catch on the game’s final play and, while setting himself for a throw, stumbled on the bullpen mound, hyperextending his left knee. He went down, obviously in pain, as Kerry Robinson crossed the plate with the winning run. No report on Mohr yet, though he was not the only Giant to suffer an injury. Ray Durham left the game late, limping slightly after a defensive gem by Deivi Cruz, crossing in front of Durham. Again, no late info, though it appeared to be some aggravation of his hamstring problem. Stan Conte certainly had a late night.
- The Cubs will give Matt Clement a chance to show that he’s healthy on Thursday when he throws a side session in front of Larry Rothschild and Dave Groeschner. Clement is unlikely to make another start; there’s just no margin for error allowing an injured or even questionable pitcher to take the mound in the next couple of days. The Cubs do hope that Clement can be ready for the playoffs in some role. The Cubs also dropped Ramon Martinez on the DL, a strange move for this time of the year. The explanation may send Cubs fans off the closest bridge: it’s so they can get Neifi Perez on the playoff roster.
- Teams are busy giving out their organizational awards and soon, the BBWAA and IBAs will be giving out their own hardware. If the Angels haven’t voted for their MVP yet, allow me to suggest that Ned Bergert should be strongly considered. The work that he and his staff did to work through the injuries they suffered all season is enough, but getting Troy Glaus back on the field thanks to an exceptional plan has given them what may be the difference in their tight race for the AL West. According to BP’s tireless James Click, Glaus has provided an estimated 6.9 VORP since his return. In a race where it could be decided by just a game, every little bit counts. This bit might count more.
- An anonymous GM took a run at Gary Huckabay last season for “flip-flopping” in regards to how the Twins handled Johan Santana. The “Free Johan!” movement begged the Twins to pull him out of the pen and put him on the mound where we all knew he’d be good, if not this good. This was despite the long-held belief by Earl Weaver and others that many pitchers would be helped by coming up and pitching some long relief. Weaver treated the assignment as something of a “Quad-A,” readying his pitchers, limiting their innings, and evaluating them against major-league competition. In true Beer and Tacos fashion, I’ll say both are right. Nothing in baseball is hard and fast. There may be one “best way” to do it that works most of the time, but any team, coach or GM must be flexible enough to realize that everything doesn’t work for everyone, that the exceptional is just that and must be handled differently.
All that said, I don’t know why Larry Bowa would send Ryan Madson back to the pen for another year or, for that matter, why Larry Bowa will be back next year to send Madson anywhere.
- Quick Cuts: Once upon a time, catching my errors in the independent UTK became something of a recurring feature. It’s easy to laugh it off, but for me, it’s embarrassing, even when the errors aren’t significant. Yesterday, I made two of them. Jim Thome collided with Todd Pratt, not Mike Lieberthal. I also failed to notice that Roy Oswalt had picked up a win in relief earlier this season. My bad … Ending their season a couple days early today are Ryan Freel and Tony Armas Jr.. Freel has had a good season, finding himself a valuable role as a Tony Phillips type, while Armas can only hope he’s left his bad luck in Montreal … A source in Texas called to let me know that the team hasn’t lost confidence in Gerald Laird. The problem is that Laird is still having problems with his thumb. I’m told that everyone expects Laird to be the starting catcher for the Rangers next season … I can’t say enough about Jonah Keri’s article yesterday. If someone writes a book about the last season of Les Expos, that one should close the book. The city and Jonah deserved better.
I’ll be back tomorrow, if my cardiologist lets me. I’m telling you, this can’t be good for me.