By Will Carroll
July 27, 2012

There's folly in thinking you can know the future. Whether it's the Wall Street analysts who get paid to predict earnings and do it terribly or whether it's a GM figuring out the lowest combination of dollars and time that will entice an athlete to tie his future to a franchise, it's all a bit of divination.

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro got out his tea leaves, entrails, and octopus and came up with a big deal to keep Cole Hamels. I'll leave the money to Vince Gennaro, but the years are a prediction that Hamels will be healthy and productive seven years from now. If we go back almost 10 years, I was doing an event with Rany Jazayerli, now with Grantland, where I called Cole Hamels a "left-handed Mark Prior." Remember, that was a big compliment in '04. If you believe Baseball-Reference, then the Phillies just gave millions to the next John Smiley, the next Greg Swindell. The Phillies know Hamels. He knows their medical staff, their organization, and their plan. What no one knows is what Hamels -- or anyone -- will be in 2017. They're just paying like they do.

Powered by raising some money for the Hello Win Column fund this Sunday at Rangers Ballpark, on to the injuries:

The fracture was to the fifth metacarpal, the "karate chop" bone of the hand. It's easy enough to test what most people think is the function of this -- grip, which is true. The bone articulates as well as moves medially a bit, which you can test yourself by touching the bone and then articulating the hand. The problem with this simple test is that it's not showing the real problematic force. Rodriguez doesn't put his pinkie over the knob as many do, but he does seem to place it on the knob itself. (Be quiet, Beavis.) That puts a bit more force on the pinkie during the swing, but could be an easy way to alleviate some of the force. All he would need to do is loop the finger and transfer some of that force to the fourth phalange and metacarpal. It would expose the finger a bit, but it would be easy enough to brace or otherwise protect the finger. Given what we know about fractures, healing times and Rodriguez, I think the six-to-eight week time frame most are giving is long. I'm sticking with the four-to-six week frame. The real test will be when he starts taking even light swings. If those come at the three or four-week mark, I'm right.

Swisher "definitely" won't play on Friday, according to Brian Cashman. Beyond that, it doesn't look like it will be too long before Swisher is back on the field. There are some rumblings that this is more than a simple hip flexor strain. Some riumblers say that this is more like the hip labrum situation that Alex Rodriguez and others have been through. Other rumblers say that it's a sports hernia or situation like Troy Tulowitzki had surgically repaired. My sources tell me that the rumbles are wrong and that this is nothing more than a strain, and a relatively minor one at that. The trade for Ichiro Suzuki had nothing to do with Swisher, but it allowed the Yankees a little more flexibility in giving Swisher some time off. Swisher should be fine once he gets over this minor situation, so don't worry about putting him back in your lineup once Joe Girardi puts him back in his.

Imagine what might have been if Beltre hadn't been wearing a helmet. For a guy that doesn't like being touched on the head, being hit by a 92 mph fastball with bad intentions was bad, but could have been worse. Players wear protection for a reason, but perhaps not enough of it. Beltre had a small bruise despite the force being mostly dissipated by the helmet, but no concussion symptoms. He was cleared as per the concussion guidelines and was back in the lineup on Wednesday. With a big series coming up against the Angels -- and I'll be there -- Beltre is needed as the Rangers try to overcome the summer doldrums that infected previous Rangers squads.

It took more than a simple infection to keep the Dodgers from trading for Ramirez. He packed up his gloves, his bats, and hopefully his antibiotic and headed for Los Angeles after a deal sent yet another star player out of Miami. Ramirez's hand is clearing up, but his future remains unclear. Ramirez was noted as a bit of a "tweener" by scouts leading up to this deal -- not a real 3B, not a good enough SS anymore -- but all that is rendered moot if his bat plays. Ramirez seemingly hasn't been the same since his shoulder surgeries, though Joe Sheehan pointed out that much of the difference in his stats is luck ... or at least BABIP. The shoulder question makes me think of the Upton brothers, but Ramirez's biggest drop-off came before the shoulder surgery. All that points to it being a bit of luck, a bit of talent, a bit of time, and only a bit of an injury or physical issue, making it an expensive gamble for the Dodgers. (The Dodgers cleared space for Ramirez by placing Adam Kennedy on the DL.)

It's a bit sad that for the last 100 years, catchers haven't really had any new protection. Sure, the masks are a little better, with the hockey-style mask being the one major change in the last decade. They still have significant areas of their bodies exposed to fouls, and the equipment they have weighs them down and heats them up on August afternoons. There's nothing out there in use that would have helped Arencibia. He took a foul off the hand and will miss the bulk of the season while it heals. There's a chance he could come back for the last week or two depending on how he heals, but there's likely to be little reason to do so. Arencibia has turned into a solid C for the Blue Jays and a team leader, so this one hurts. Worse, they won't have the chance to use Travis d'Arnaud in the short term, since he's out with a knee issue. Jeff Mathis will be the starter.

In something of a surprise, the Diamondbacks are shutting down Bauer. The expectation was that they'd just send him back to Reno (AAA) and have him focus on command. Then again, that wasn't a problem last time he was at Reno. By shutting him down, similar to what the Brewers did with Zack Greinke, and that Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reminded me that the D'backs have done before with young pitchers like Max Scherzer and Jarrod Parker. Some have speculated this might be a chance for the D'backs to adjust Bauer's workouts. Bauer is one of the top proponents of a long toss program put together by Alan Jaeger (who just happened to be my guest last week on The Nickel.) It does preclude a return to the majors until September, if then, so he loses some value in non-keeper leagues.

Wow. ... Albert Pujols was out Wednesday after getting plunked on the elbow. He's also dealing with a sore foot, so a bit of rest won't hurt at all. He could be back as early as Friday's game ... Reports that Troy Tulowitzki is done for the season are premature. He's barely halfway through the expected eight week rehab after groin surgery. That said, the Rockies could shut him down because well, why risk it? ... Tulowitzki's college teammate Evan Longoria heads to Durham (AAA) to start his rehab. The fact that he will only DH while there is a bit concerning ... Joba Chamberlain will have a couple more outings at Trenton (AA), but he's likely to be activated next week ... The Giants will wait to make a DL call on Pablo Sandoval until late Friday. He's going to miss time, regardless, but it's a question of how much and how they replace him in the meantime while his hamstring and groin heal ... Jayson Werth shifted his rehab to Syracuse (AAA) and should shift again to Washington by next week. His wrist has shown no issues at all, though he's still down slightly on power. Observers tell me there's "positive signs, not positive results yet" ... Jonathan Lucroy was activated on Thursday and returns to the starting catcher slot. Who he'll be catching remains to be seen ... Brilliant ... Placido Polanco heads to the DL with his back issue. Depending on how things go for the Phillies over that period, he could be shut down ... Vernon Wells will head back to the Angels this weekend. He's pretty close to the end of his rehab clock and will force a roster move ... Neftali Feliz will have at least two more rehab outings before returning to the Rangers. They're stretching him out in case they need him as a starter, but his role is TBA as Jon Daniels looks to see if he can add a pitcher before the deadline ... Mark Prior was in Indianapolis as part of the Pawtucket Red Sox. He's been pitching well enough that it's not outrageous to think of him as an option for Boston's pen, especially in September. I'll have more from an interview with him on Monday.

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