There’s something about September. While I’m also watching far too much coverage of the Battle of New Orleans, I’m also using to watch as many of these meaningful games as possible. What I’ve seen is a lot of top-notch baseball, with teams playing at the edge of their talent and some clear tension for those teams like the Mets and Marlins who are struggling to stay in it. Once again, too many of these races are being decided in the training room rather than the field. Injuries, unavailable pitchers, and limping players are leaving wins on the DL rather than in their team’s win column. Tom Gorman’s continued work on coming up with an accounting system that would quantify these losses is pretty amazing, even in its ‘work in progress’ state. One team, the Dodgers, lost six games so far to injury. You might note that they’re six games behind the Padres in the NL West. Down the stretch, I’ll venture to say that injury–rather than talent–will decide half these races. That’s scary and takes away from the greatest game. More work is needed.

Powered by T-Mobile, who graciously put in a new cell tower near the new UTK HQ, making sure the Sidekick has four bars at home, on to the injuries:

  • Another one? Seriously, have there always been this number of comebackers? There’s nothing in my databases about the cause of most injuries, so it’s impossible for me to look back. Simple memory doesn’t recall nearly this many blistering shots back up the middle. Jaret Wright is the latest victim, taking a shot off his collarbone and neck. Wright had x-rays after the incident which came back negative, so like Matt Clement and Jeremy Bonderman, his outlook is positive. His return to the mound will be based on pain and response to treatment. Remember that both Clement and Bonderman had some problems in their first starts back, with Bonderman’s problem a mechanical one.

    In other Yankee news, Kevin Brown was placed on the 60-day DL, ending his 2005 comeback chances. Brown has said he wanted to return, making a comeback next season possible. Brown is the type of player that would want to go out on “his own terms,” whatever those might be.

  • The A’s are doing all they can to stay in the race. The starters have an ERA of about half a run over the last six games, yet they only came away with a split. The latest report on Bobby Crosby has him back in three weeks, a very aggressive timetable. There’s been no mention of Forteo or other treatments this time around, though it may not be necessary. Given what Crosby was able to tolerate between the time he fractured his ankle and the time it was confirmed, there’s likely not a lot of healing that has to take place. Crosby needs enough healing to be stable and not risk further, more serious injury; he doesn’t need a complete and total healing. The situation is more fluid with Rich Harden. He’ll miss at least one more start due to his strained lat and his return will be based on pain tolerance and effectiveness. He’ll have to have at least one successful side session before being given the ball again, so we’ll have plenty of opportunity to see the stage he’s at. The A’s should get Mark Kotsay back from back spasms over the weekend, a definite plus.
  • It took me a minute to figure out what I meant when I jotted down “Carpenter – neck” on my notes for today. I’d put Chris Carpenter–coming off a dominating 19th win–in place of Mark Mulder. A simple error, but it also shows how the Cards have won this season, with a set of four starters who are at times interchangeable parts. Carpenter and Mulder, along with Matt Morris and Jason Marquis, have all been ace-level at one point or another this season, while Jeff Suppan has been everything one would hope for from a clear five slot starter. Mulder’s neck didn’t affect him in a side session on Wednesday, putting him back on the mound for Friday. He’ll likely pitch a bit tentatively and be watched closely by Dave Duncan in his next couple starts, though the injury was never considered serious. 13 game leads engender conservatism.
  • The Nationals don’t have much margin for error as they continue to contend long past any point where logic would have given them a chance. Jose Vidro hasn’t been the player the team expected him to be, playing at a level around his 25% PECOTA projection. Much of that is due to continued leg problems, a cascade from last season’s knee injury. Vidro left Thursday’s game with some swelling in his right knee, the same one that was surgically repaired. The team hopes he’ll be back shortly, but it’s his response to treatment–always a crapshoot with injuries like this–that will determine his availability.
  • Just a few days after Frank Thomas left the door open to a late season return, the White Sox slammed it shut by placing him on the 60-day DL. This not only closes out the season for Thomas, but likely his long and storied White Sox career. There’s some confusion as to why the move was made when there was no setback. There’s some speculation that it’s another move from the dugout, locking in the “team they want,” which has to be respected if not understood. Thomas hasn’t discussed retirement, but like Nomar Garciaparra across town, he’ll likely find a big money deal tough to find, even at the one-year level.
  • Roy Oswalt has pitched through worse. A dead arm is probably the best thing he’s had by the end of the last couple seasons. Remember how well he pitched despite a hernia that needed immediate surgery just a few years ago? Oswalt has adjusted his between-starts routine to give himself a little more ‘gas in the tank’ and that appeared to work, at least in one start. He struck out 11 in a 5 2/3 inning stint. This is likely what we can expect down the stretch–shorter outings of 100 pitches or fewer until the last week, when the playoff chase throws caution to the wind. Jeff Bagwell was able to play on back-to-back days during his rehab assignment and moreover, he was hitting the ball with authority. A 2-for-4 day with an RBI and a walk is pretty solid considering how much pain he’s reported to be in. Bagwell will have one more start at Double-A, then will be back with the Astros for the weekend.
  • I received a lot of email about B.J. Upton. The Rays prospect injured his shoulder in what figures to be one of his last minor league games, endangering his callup. While I don’t normally do much in the way of minor league injuries, Upton is no normal minor leaguer. It turns out that he had a slight subluxation of his shoulder, done during a swing. It’s not considered serious, meaning he’ll miss only a day or two. However, it is reminiscent of injuries to Richie Sexson and J.J. Hardy. While there’s not much to be concerned with now, it is something to watch. I’m sure Ken Crenshaw and his staff are already designing an off-season strengthening program.
  • Quick Cuts: Expect Barry Bonds to put on a show when he returns to his team early next week. Reports from his UCLA sessions were overwhelmingly positive, though it’s still unclear when/if he’ll be activated … Kerry Wood had a successful scoping of his shoulder on Wednesday and begins his four month rehab. Dr. Tim Kremcheck found some fraying on the rotator cuff, as expected … Rickie Weeks will have surgery on his thumb this off-season. That explains some of his recent struggles … Keep your eye on Sean Burroughs. He’s been working with Dr. Chris Yeager … Tino Martinez will be out until the weekend with a minor oblique strain … Can Clint Barmes do enough in the last month to make himself a RoY candidate again? He’ll get the chance now that he’s off the disabled list and back at SS for the Rockies.

We’ll be covering all this and more Saturday on BP Radio. There will be lots of room for your calls, from 10am to noon Eastern, so give us a call at 800 825-5290.

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