Under The Knife: Hamilton not alone in struggling when sun is out
When a theory as intriguing as Josh Hamilton's belief that blue eyes have caused him to have poor daytime performances comes up, you just knew Dan Wade would be all over it. I asked him to take a look at this physical trait and whether or not there's any science to Hamilton's theory:
"Josh Hamilton's pronouncement that his blue eyes were to blame for his struggles during day games elicited more than a few groans from observers, but according to a local optometrist, his claim may not be so outlandish. Whether he is having trouble picking up the ball because of his eye color, only Hamilton really knows, but the question for decision makers -- fantasy or otherwise -- is whether or not he's unique in his struggles.
Looking at his 2010 OPS, Hamilton did have a large difference between his day and night performance, but he only had the fifth largest split. He was more than 100 points lower than the king of the night owls, the brown-eyed Andre Ethier. Of the 10 hitters who hit dramatically better at night, three -- Hamilton, Nick Hundley, and Chris Heisey -- had distinctly light eyes. At the other end of the spectrum, Jim Thome and Mike Napoli hit much better during day games despite being "afflicted" with lighter eyes.
Time will tell if Hamilton's new red contacts will help him overcome his struggles during day games, but there's no reason to believe that something like this is going to revolutionize offensive production in afternoon baseball. It wasn't too long ago that Nike was saying that their
As usual, Dan's work is right on. While others are working to collect more data, I think Dan's preliminary look at this is an open and shuteye case. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) Let's get to the injuries:
After Oswalt came out of his last start, he sounded gloomy, as if he might have been making the last start of his career. Maybe he knew that this one was different. Instead of the simple (but painful) muscular issues he'd been dealing with, Oswalt was found to have both a bulging disc and a spinal joint issue. Neither is a death sentence or a career killer, but it does help explain Oswalt's mood. The pain and stiffness are going to be tough to deal with, and until that cycle is broken, Oswalt is going to be shut down. Early estimates are that he could be back sometime in August, but that's the medical equivalent of a wild guess at this stage. Given how the Phillies are playing, the team can afford to be very conservative with him, making sure he's back for the stretch run and perhaps the playoffs.
It will be harder to replace Madson in the short term, but it appears this will, indeed, only be a short term problem. It's tough to tell exactly what's wrong from the outside. Madson has evidently been dealing with some numbness in his hand since being hit by a comebacker in late May, but it only affects certain grips and is transient. Looking at his pitch stats doesn't indicate which pitch it might be, so it's not as if he can't throw or pitch effectively with the problem. Phillies doctor Michael Ciccotti said the problem lies in a group of small muscles; instead of getting bogged down in an anatomy lesson here, let's look at the effect.
In the very short term, Madson will take a couple days off as the medical staff treats the issue. Assuming that works, Madson should be back to normal, but the worst case here is that he goes back to pitching the way he has in June. Given that two bad outings since the injury -- including the immediate next outing -- have inflated his ERA from 0.47 to 2.03, it'd seem that would be acceptable. We'll have to see. Advanced statistics seem to indicate that Madson has been slightly lucky, but no more so than last year.
Things didn't go as well as they seemed for Hughes in his second rehab start. This one was at AA Trenton and the very things I was most worried about showed up. Hughes didn't have the same fastball, losing 3-4 mph, depending on whose radar gun you trust, and didn't seem to have the same stamina either. This leads us back to the weakened, "dead arm" state that Hughes found himself in. It's not back to that, but there's clearly some sign that Hughes isn't recovering well enough to last long in a five-man rotation. It's not all gloom, though, if the Yankees can figure out exactly how Hughes is fatiguing. He could be used in the pen, where he's been successful before, but only if he can recover on some predictable basis. He could also be tag-teamed with someone like Ivan Nova, who is facing some workload issues of his own. The Yankees are one team that could be creative if they wanted to, but have too often added to their own issues by refusing to innovate.
It's probably not much consolation to Choo that by living in Cleveland, he saved himself a trip. The Cleveland Clinic is where a lot of players, including Kevin Youkilis, have gone to consult with some of the best hand doctors in the world. Choo's broken thumb is going to require fixation. That usually involves wires, pins, or other small hardware to make sure that the bone sets properly and that the joint stays aligned. It heals predictably, but it's not something that can be rushed. Instead, Choo will miss somewhere between four and six weeks. Even after he returns, grip strength can be affected, which leads to reduced bat control. That can often show up as a decrease in contact rate. Choo will be fine in the long term, but this injury makes the Indians even more of a long shot.
Young was at the top of the Twins' list for a potential deal, given his skill set and increasing cost. Several teams were scouting him, but his sprained ankle is serious enough that those teams aren't sure how much of a look they'll get at him before the deadline. The severe sprain looks to keep him out about six weeks, right into the end of July. While a player can be traded while on the DL, it seldom happens for the obvious reasons. The Twins did get some good news, though no immediate help. Kubel is making progress from his sprained foot and will head to AAA Rochester. The Twins seem to want him to get a full week of rehab games there, meaning he'll be back after the holiday.
Street gets hurt. It happens, but if you can handle those inevitable breakdowns and value him properly, he's still a good option for saves. That holds for both fantasy players and the Rockies. The Rockies were smart enough to back him with a number of options, including Matt Lindstrom, who'll get the saves if Street's minor groin strain holds him out. Lindstrom won't be needed just yet, as Street came back on Sunday and looked normal. The Rockies are often a bit conservative, especially with their fragile players, so the fact that the medical staff cleared him so quickly is a positive sign. Street should be used in all formats, though this bears watching a bit to see if Jim Tracy is trying to buy him a little extra rest here and there.
The Giants deserve a lot of credit for keeping pitchers healthy. They're not immune, however, and Sanchez proves that. Sanchez has lacked control this season, which the Giants have said is the result of a mechanical issue. Biceps tendinitis often does make pitchers alter their arm slot, causing them to lose their release point, and therefore, accuracy. It all makes sense, so we'll see if Sanchez can take some time off and come back with his arm in the right spot. It's not quite that easy to do as it is to plan, so look for Sanchez to spend over the minimum as he works on this through a set of rehab games. The Giants will fill the slot with Barry Zito, coming off his own foot issue and rehab stint.
Remember when it seemed like everyone in baseball had an oblique strain? The early season seemed like an epidemic, but it was just a burst, the kind of thing that becomes evident in hindsight or as you start to look at injury management in terms of a network. The patterns might seem random, but aren't, though it's difficult to predict. Danks was a bit late to the oblique party, but may end up on the DL with this problem. The Sox will wait a couple days, until his scheduled side session, to make the final determination, letting trainer Herm Schneider and staff work their magic. The Sox are already operating on a six-man basis, so skipping Danks once would be no issue. My guess is that their depth and Danks' struggles will push him to the DL.
While everyone else focuses on what