Aaron Gleeman

Baseball Daily Dose

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Utley Out

Friday, July 02, 2010


I started doing the "Daily Dose" column way back on April 3, 2006, which is so long ago that Stephen Strasburg was in high school. I've written a new Daily Dose basically every weekday of every baseball season since then, which adds up to 514 different columns. Actually, this is the 515th column and it's also my last one. I'm stepping aside (but remaining a big part of Rotoworld) to focus more on my work at Hardball Talk on NBCSports.com (which hopefully you already read).

Fear not, however, because I'd never leave my baby in anything less than very capable hands. Beginning next week the Daily Dose will be written by the three-headed monster of Rotoworld player news director Drew Silva, Fan Graphs and Bloomberg Sports staffer Eno Sarris, and Rotoworld and NBCSports.com regular Matt Stroup. If you've enjoyed my writing and this column over the years, I'm confident you'll like their work as well.

And if you miss me, you can find me blogging throughout each weekday at Hardball Talk. You can also find my Twins-centric and non-baseball writing at AaronGleeman.com and follow me on Twitter for various nonsense. Writing this column has been a huge part of my life for five years and the thought of stepping aside is already making me sad, but my hope is you'll continue to read Daily Dose and check out my stuff at Hardball Talk too.

While you think of some good hazing initiation possibilities for Drew, Eno, and Matt, here are some notes from around baseball ...

* Chase Utley would get my vote as the most underrated player in baseball during the five seasons I've been writing this column, but he'll be sidelined for at least the next eight weeks following Thursday's surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb. Utley missing two months is a massive blow to the Phillies, as his combination of offense and defense at an up-the-middle position is incredibly rare and impossible to replace.

For now Wilson Valdez is filling at second base, which is just about the biggest possible dropoff between two players, but the Phillies are hoping Placido Polanco can avoid his own surgery for an elbow injury and slide across the infield to replace Utley in a month or so. In the meantime expect Philadelphia to be in the market for a veteran infielder, with speculation already linking them to guys like Jose Lopez and Ty Wigginton.

* Travis Wood has boosted his prospect stock dramatically by posting great numbers in the minors since 2008 shoulder problems and turned in an impressive debut Thursday, taking a shutout into the eighth inning. He exited with two runners on base and they both scored off reliever Nick Masset, but the 23-year-old lefty and former second-round pick pitched well enough to remain in the rotation at least until Edinson Volquez returns.

Wood is far from an elite prospect and as a fly-ball pitcher Cincinnati's ballpark isn't an ideal fit, but the combination of a low-90s fastball with a strong cutter and changeup potentially makes him a mid-rotation starter long term. He has a 2.27 ERA and 232/76 K/BB ratio in 265.2 innings between Double-A and Triple-A since the beginning of last season, making Wood a worthwhile NL-only flier and someone to keep an eye on.

* Boston's incredibly poor luck with injuries continued Thursday, with reports that Jason Varitek will miss 4-6 weeks with a broken foot. Victor Martinez is already on the disabled list with a busted thumb, so suddenly the Red Sox are left with Kevin Cash and Gustavo Molina as a Triple-A caliber duo behind the plate. Perhaps they'll give the Brewers a call about bringing George Kottaras back to Boston, because Cash is a career .188 hitter.

* If you follow only one piece of my advice from the past five years, make it selling high on Livan Hernandez. His deal with the devil continued Thursday, as he sliced his ERA to 2.98 by holding the Mets to one run in seven innings. Hernandez has pitched far better than expected from a guy who hasn't had an ERA below 4.75 since 2005, but he's also gotten incredibly lucky and secondary stats show an ERA that should be closer to 5.00.

AL Quick Hits: Justin Masterson took a shutout into the ninth inning Thursday before giving way to Frank Herrmann for his first career save ... B.J. Upton remained out of the Rays' lineup Thursday because of a quadriceps injury ... Kevin Slowey expects to make his next start despite taking a line drive off his ankle Wednesday ... Finally playing every day, Matt LaPorta homered Thursday for the third straight game ... Dallas Braden (elbow) threw a bullpen session Thursday and reported no problems ... Josh Beckett (back) tossed a two-inning simulated game Thursday, but isn't close to returning ... Daric Barton exited Thursday's game after injuring his right knee sliding into second base ... Rich Harden threw a 58-pitch bullpen session Thursday, saying afterward that he's "feeling good" ... Luke Scott landed on the disabled list Thursday after injuring himself on a home run trot, but it's unclear how long call-up Josh Bell will be in the majors as his replacement.

NL Quick Hits: Thursday night the Diamondbacks fired both manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Josh Byrnes, naming Kirk Gibson the new skipper ... Carlos Beltran (knee) is slated to play consecutive nine-inning games on his rehab assignment this weekend ... Manny Ramirez (hamstring) is day-to-day after an MRI exam revealed merely inflammation ... Ubaldo Jimenez's next turn in the rotation will likely come Thursday, which would give him four days off before starting the All-Star game ... San Francisco's haul for Bengie Molina looks much better after pitching prospect Michael Main was surprisingly revealed as the player to be named later ... Neil Walker (concussion) could be cleared to play as soon as this weekend after taking ground balls Thursday ... J.A. Happ (forearm) will make a sixth rehab start Sunday at Triple-A after posting a 6.98 ERA in his first five outings ... Ryan Ludwick (calf) was unavailable again Thursday and hasn't played since June 25 ... Elijah Dukes has signed with the Newark Bears of the independent Atlantic League ... Beginning next year Bobby Bonilla will be back on the Mets' payroll until 2035.


Aaron Gleeman is Rotoworld's senior baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. Also find him at AaronGleeman.com and on Twitter.
Email :Aaron Gleeman



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