Under the knife -- wrap
If there's one thing I've learned in the seven years that I've been doing UTK, it's how much we don't know. Each time I learn something new and think that the game has figured something out, there comes new information that poses new questions. My job is to report the story as best I can based on the information I have, and because of that, I regularly make mistakes, but I am learning from them as well. I wish I could go back in time and retract saying that
Two voices that I paid a great deal of attention to back then were Dr.
When Marshall sent one of his pitchers to ASMI to be studied, I expected there to be some interesting results, and were there ever! It was not what I expected at all. Marshall's motion as tested simply does not work. To summarize, Marshall's motion gets less velocity out of more force, meaning it is less efficient. I hope to write more about this in the near future, but the study is important enough that I want you to hear about it, see it, and be able to look at things for yourself.
Before you accuse Fleisig of bias, he's not alone in his findings. There is danger in trying to do things, and I always worry that what I thought I understood in '03 might turn out to be wrong, and that the unintended consequences might end up being the cause of injury to someone. The assessment of pitching mechanics has gone from something I approached as a curiosity five years ago to a field that is now a common read on the blogs. The thing is, even the experts and the so-called experts are learning that what we think we know may not be so.
Powered by never forgetting, on to the injuries:
It wasn't so much a surprise that Wagner had a setback as it was how much of a setback it was. He had a similar issue back in mid-August when his elbow swelled up whenever he went full out with his pitches. That's how this happened, but no one seems to understand how he went from claiming to have "no problem" with his UCL, to Tommy John surgery during the course of a normal rehab. It's my understanding that the imaging that showed the strained tendon did not show the damage to the UCL. (Also, it's important to note that some sources are calling this an MCL sprain. The MCL, or medial collateral ligament of the elbow, is more commonly called the ulnar collateral ligament to avoid confusion with the knee's MCL.) Wagner's agent,
(* The Injury Cost above adds in the 180 days he's likely to miss next season.)
Pujols might have Tommy John surgery. That's a known. It's the same known that's been in play since, what, '04? The Cardinals made a prescient move by shifting him to first base to protect that arm, and to protect the value of the bat that he holds with that arm. It's worked for several years now, and it's hard to say that it's not still working; he's hitting around .360 with no loss of power and a career-high EqA for a guy whose entire career has been a high. (As I typed this, he'd just hit a three-run bomb off of
The White Sox are going to be without Konerko for a while, though I can't be more specific than that. Early reports were that it was a mild strain of his MCL and that he'd be back in a matter of days. Later reports have him out indefinitely, though there's some overlap there; "indefinitely" and "day to day" aren't mutually exclusive. While it's easy to worry that this will drag on, the White Sox have a great record of getting people back on the field, and more importantly, keeping them out there. I'd anticipate Konerko missing time perhaps through the weekend, but not much longer. The key will be whether the sprain is affected by his high-torque swing, and if he can safely run the bases.
Quentin underwent a procedure on his wrist called an open reduction with internal fixation, or ORIF. That procedure, which put the broken bone back in place and set it there with a small screw, went well, and it's possible but not probable that he could return for the playoffs. If he does, Quentin and the Sox will have to thank skateboarders all over the world; there have been great advances in the treatment of broken wrists over the past decade, due in part to the increase of such injuries that one physical therapist credits to kids trying to replicate the moves of Tony Hawk. (If that Injury Cost seems low to you on Quentin, remember that those were calculated based on projections before the season that expected him to be a platoon player with 11 home runs. Before you go knocking PECOTA, Rotowire had him projected about the same with 9 homers, and BaseballHQ had him with 12. The most aggressive projection for him, ZIPS, had him hitting 15.)
It surprised me when I discovered that the White Sox have shifted, if not to an out-and-out four-man rotation, to a five-day rotation, where their four starters are taking their regular turns every fifth, and the fifth starter in the rotation gets skipped as often as the schedule permits. I paused, thought about it, and realized that this shouldn't have surprised me at all;
The Cubs think that Zambrano will be back later this weekend, though Hurricane Ike pushed back his scheduled Saturday start. All anyone should care about once he takes the mound is if he can get back up to his normal arm slot. If not, it will mean that the rotator cuff tendonitis is causing problems that will continue to cascade. I'm not saying that they couldn't use Zambrano, only that they have to be both careful and smart in how they do so. Zambrano showed a predictable pattern between returning from the DL last time to the beginning of this most recent hiatus. We can safely predict that a similar occurrence will take place in roughly the same time period, and probably a bit sooner. The Cubs need to be very careful in how they bring him back, since doing so too soon might position him to run out of gas in the midst of the NLCS or World Series. With the playoff spot all but locked up, the conservative course would be a much smarter path here. It would also be in line with what they're doing with Harden, who slotted back into the rotation this week after missing a start. The rest did him good, just as it would for any pitcher at this stage of the season. More worrisome is the continued absence of Gaudin, who was acquired to take some of the bullpen workload off of
I haven't said much about Kendrick since he went back on the DL at the end of August, and I'm not alone. Kendrick hasn't had an update on Rotowire since Aug. 29, or on Rotoworld since September 5, when
To paraphrase the great LL Cool J, don't call it a setback. Carpenter was unavailable on Tuesday, and unsure about his availability on Wednesday, but this sort of thing is what was expected. While the Cardinals said they would use him at closer, they also said they would do so when he's available. He won't do back-to-back games, and I'm not sure that they'll put him in any true closer situations. It seems as if they'd like to use him in less stressful spots, where he can start an inning, have a few runs worth of cushion, and regain some confidence while saving the pen a bit. This is smart usage, and while it's not going to add up to that much work for Carpenter, it will be enough for the team to just have him around even after the Cards are eliminated.