Danys Baez. Alfonso Soriano. Matt Lawton. A.J. Burnett. Sorry, it’s a reflex now. Just because the baseball world is focused on the trade deadline doesn’t mean the injuries stop. Those are just as important, if not more important, than any trade that will be made. In fact, I’ll bet that more runs will be lost to injuries during this week than will be traded by the deadline. Now, I just have to figure out how to calculate that.
Powered by … nothing. I’m just running on pure adrenaline for about the next six hours, after which I’ll start back on some coffee. Anyway, on to the injuries …
- It was an ugly injury. Torii Hunter ran into the Fenway triangle, extended his leg towards the angled wall and misjudged it. As his foot hit the padding, his weight stuck the cleats into the canvas cover and sharply everted (forced out the sole of) the foot, tearing tendons in his ankle. His first grasp was just below the belly of the gastrocnemius (calf muscle), making me (and several e-mailers) immediately think “Achilles tendon tear.” Adding to that fear was Hunter’s apparent lack of pain as he was carted off the field, since the Achilles is not very innervated. X-rays came back negative for fractures and avulsion, but an MRI on Saturday will be the true test. At minimum, Hunter will miss a month. Eversion sprains affecting the tibiotalaer, tibionavicular and tibiocalcaneal ligaments are uncommon, about 10% of sprains, and slow-healing. That’s the best-case scenario. An Achilles tear for a speed player on turf? That’s about as worst-case a scenario as the Twins could have.
- The worst-case scenario for Frank Thomas isn’t what it might have been for the Pale Hose five, six or seven years ago. Thomas is out for the season with another related, but not overlapping, fracture in his foot/ankle. Yet the Sox are still in the dominant position and arguably aren’t much worse. Thomas was certainly a factor this season, swinging for the fences to keep the pressure off that bad wheel. A .285 EqA shows he can still hit, but the 1.3 WARP3 shows that he wasn’t there enough to make a big impact. Still, his 8.3 VORP is higher than what his likely replacement, Carl Everett, has put up in three times as many plate appearances. Thomas holds a player option for next season and no one has ruled out a return, though it looks decreasingly likely that Thomas can do much more than what he did this season. The White Sox did keep Harold Baines around for a long time.
- The Cubs are excited about the possibilities they see for August. Rich Hill is getting another start, Jerome Williams is solidifying his spot in the rotation, and Matt Murton is playing like the sparkplug the team desperately needed. They’re hoping that three additions from the DL will continue to push the team towards another wild-card battle royale with the Astros. Scott Williamson will be pushed to the bullpen after a near miraculous recovery from Tommy John surgery, and Kerry Wood will join him in the pen after a short rehab stint at Double-A. Attendance at West Tenn should be nice over the next week as Wood and Nomar Garciaparra visit. Garciaparra was expected to go to Triple-A Iowa, but they’re on a west coast swing. Sending Garciaparra out there would prevent them from calling him up quickly, something the Cubs seem ready to do. How they integrate these moves, especially figuring out how to best use Wood in the pen, will go a long way in determining how much chance we have of seeing red ivy again.
- Wade Miller is having what Red Sox sources describe as “mild shoulder fatigue.” (Of course, Sox sources are under all kinds of fatigue themselves.) Miller’s comeback from his shoulder problems made this type of small problem likely, if not inevitable. The fact that he’s been able to put together a useful season in the #5 slot (9.3 VORP in 14 starts that average 5 2/3 innings) has been even more valuable than numbers show in light of Curt Schilling‘s absence. The reduced strikeout rate is the one stat that’s worrisome.
The Red Sox are also figuring out how to best bring Matt Clement back into the rotation. The flexible Tim Wakefield will take his next start and Terry Francona will work with Clement and Dave Wallace to decide what day Clement figures to be mentally and physically ready. At this stage and given test results, it’s the former of those challenges that will be most pressing.
- Jose Valverde is finally getting his velocity and movement back, though it’s still not what made “Combos” one of the top minor-league relief prospectsa few years ago. Brian Bruney‘s struggles and the slow comeback of the rest of Arizona’s injured relief corps opens the door of opportunity for Valverde. Labrum survivors have a tendency to fade, so don’t get too excited about Valverde in the short term. Still, he’s another data point in the continuing push away from “labrum as death sentence.”
- Quick Cuts: 121, 119…anyone getting the idea that Dusty Baker is working with the number 120 in his head lately? … Roy Halladay could pitch today if needed, said J.P. Ricciardi. The plan is for him to take the mound again next weekend … Adam Eaton may have thrown some breaking balls in his sim game, but none were game quality, according to Eaton. “Frisbees,” another observer called them. Eaton still feels he’ll be able to start at some point this season. … Jay Powell of the Braves fell to the ground
on just his second pitch of the night in a scene reminiscent of Tom
Browning‘s broken arm. No word yet on the extent of the injury beyond
“significant.” Powell is done for the season.
Thanks for the kind words on yesterday’s UTK. Some asked why I didn’t mention Wade Boggs or Jerry Coleman. Honestly, in my baseball life, those two didn’t mean much to me. I respect the work they did, but neither touched me in any real way. I hope everyone understands this is no slight to two deserving Hall of Famers.
Be sure to check out this weekend’s BP Radio. Our guests were Paul DePodesta, Buster Olney and Chris Kahrl in what was a lively show heading into deadline weekend.