Eno Sarris

Baseball Daily Dose

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Giant Health Problems

Thursday, August 18, 2011


It's almost like Carlos Beltran took the Mets' injury problems with him to San Francisco. Here's a team that was remarkably healthy last year, and now they are a M.A.S.H. unit. Beltran himself is headed to Cleveland for a second opinion on his wrist, but the rest of his team has been crowding into the doctor's office too.

The latest to bite the dust is Brian Wilson. After back problems felled him for a few days, Wilson started feeling pain in his elbow. Dr. James Andrews cleared him of major structural damage, but that's just not a name you want associated with your closer. Maybe it'll just be the two-to-three days the team is hoping it will be, but Wilson is out for now. With Sergio Romo on the DL, that makes Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla the platoon closers. Yuck. At least Romo doesn't have damage in his elbow, but with the amount of sliders he throws, he's a candidate for elbow problems perpetually.

Of course, that wasn't it. Sure, Pablo Sandoval returned to the lineup Wednesday, but he's had foot issues recently. Jonathan Sanchez turned his ankle and the team is hoping he won't need a DL stint. Aaron Rowand has an intercostal problem and is battling through it, but honestly, which fantasy players care. Jeff Keppinger has a bone bruise, meaning that Mike Fontenot (three hits Wednesday) is going to be getting more playing time at second. Nate Schierholtz, who has been a revelation in left field, was just back in the lineup Wednesday after fouling a ball off his foot. Veteran teams!

* Other teams weren't immune, of course, but their news wasn't so bad. Other than A.J. Pierzynski, who might need surgery on his wrist, the major news was better. Oh, and Alex Rodriguez might not be back Thursday as planned -- just Friday. The Mets haven't rid themselves of all their injury jinx, obviously, as Johan Santana won't throw for another week, but at least Jose Reyes will try to run Friday to test his hamstring. Jason Kipnis, though still out with oblique soreness, took batting practice and grounders so he should avoid the DL. Michael Cuddyer's neck strain might put him on the DL Thursday, but that would be backdated a week. There was even some good news! Stephen Strasburg could return September second if he doesn't have any setbacks. It might seem like rushing, but recovery times on that surgery have been declining for some time now. David Ortiz hopes to miss only a week with his heel issue. Josh Hamilton returned to the lineup after back spasms forced him from Tuesday's game.

* Kurt Suzuki had a good day at the plate. Not only did he homer twice, but he also applied the game-ending tag at the plate. He's still too borderline, since last year looks like his upside. Angel Pagan, on the other side, is now playing to his upside again, with two hits, three RBI and a stolen base on Wednesday. Jose Tabata came back and hit a home run! He's a decent fringe mixed leaguer. Paul Goldschmidt has struck out too much to be a mixed leaguer, but he took Cliff Lee deep. Maybe he has some future in him. Shin-Soo Choo had three hits Wednesday, which is a nice sign of percolation. Alex Gordon hit a three-run home run off of Bartolo Colon, which is nice because he'd been slowing down. He's still not likely to be as good the rest of the way. Tony Gwynn, Jr. hit a home run! Off Zack Greinke! It doesn't happen often, and he's a speed-only flier at best. Mike Stanton homered in the fourth straight game. He's got a little power.

* Mounting the mound, we have more morsels to digest. Jair Jurrjens returned from the DL to give up five runs in six innings (with one strikeout) against the Giants. Bud Norris struck out five in five, and also walked three. That's a typical Norris-ian start, but he got the win with three earned runs, which is a little rarer. Mat Latos hit 96 MPH during his start and struck out six in six, so allowing three runs to the Mets at home is secondary information. Dillon Gee is way shakier, even if he held the Pads to one run in 6 2/3 innings. Johnny Cueto held the Nationals to one run in eight innings with five strikeouts and no walks. He's accomplished this by improving his ground-ball rate, mostly, and at this point maybe the improvement is believable. Still, a few more home runs are coming. Fausto Carmona only allowed one run to the White Sox, and he came within two outs of a complete game. If he can continue to avoid the home run as he has recently, he can be a borderline play in deeper leagues.

Some pitchers are just too borderline to depend on. Kyle Lohse held the Pirates to two runs in seven innings. He even struck out seven against one walk! The thing is, he doesn't normally strike people out, doesn't get ground balls, and depends on good control (and the whims of the umpire) to win games. You know what, just repeat all of that for his opponent Paul Maholm, who gave up three runs in five innings, except insert 'ground balls' for 'control.' Or Mark Buehrle, who also has great control and not much else. He gave up four runs in 7 1/3 innings to the Indians, and those 12 hits show how hittable he is. Pass even with the nice ERA. Bartolo Colon is turning into a pumpkin. He gave up five runs (two home runs) in five innings against the Royals. He was never getting the swinging strikes to support his small-sample strikeout rate anyway. Ricky Nolasco gave up 11 runs in three innings against the Rockies. The only consolation is that most Nolasco owners probably weren't starting him there. Still, it's hard to figure out why this guy who gets swinging strikes, has great control, and is an average ground-baller has so many bad days at the office.

* Time to pick on the pen? Mark Melancon didn't make it look good -- he allowed the tying run to get to third -- but he finished the game anyway. Too bad he didn't get a strikeout, because that's the part of his game that needs the most help. Huston Street played catch before the game and is 'progressing' well.

National League Quick Hits: Ryan Howard sprained something in his hand but doesn't think he'll need tests … The Diamondbacks are still looking for a shortstop, but it probably won't be Miguel Tejada or Edgar RenteriaDee Gordon threw again and wants to be back August 25th … Kyle Blanks (shoulder) was held out Wednesday with lingering soreness but should be back any day … Nathan Eovaldi held the Brewers to two runs in six innings, and can strike out more in the future than the two he had Wednesday; His stuff makes him relevant in all leagues, even if only as a spot-starter … Yonder Alonso started in left field, but where he'll end up is important because his defense and lack of position is holding him back right now … Allen Craig's kneecap is still bothering him some, so he'll only play the outfield corners, which is to say he won't play much at all (even if he did just homer twice and put up three RBI Wednesday) … Ross Detwiler held the Reds to one run in six innings, but doesn't get ground balls, doesn't strike people out, and has okay control so he's only an NL-only flier at best … The Joe Saunders that gave up five runs to the Phillies in six innings (with three strike outs), that's the real Joe SaundersCasey Blake left the game with pain in the back of his shoulder.

American League Quick Hits: Denard Span (concussion) missed a third straight game and Ben Revere slid over to center to fill in … Brandon Morrow dominated the Mariners as he should … Freddy Garcia (finger) will attempt to throw his split finger Thursday to test it out … Mike Napoli doubled twice against his old team and must be happy to be finally free … Howie Kendrick had two hits (one a home run) but is still subject to the whims of the lineup in Anaheim … Dustin Ackley went oh for three with three strikeouts and is officially in the first slump of his career … Jeremy Guthrie will miss his Saturday start against the Angels with shoulder soreness … Conor Jackson (neck, back) missed another game and Brandon Allen tripled, so that job could be changing hands as we watch … Miguel Olivo was hit by a foul tip in the jaw and left the game … Blake Beaven gave up three home runs for the second straight start, but the Blue Jays are no joke, even in Seattle … Tyler Chatwood has been replaced in the rotation by Jerome Williams but neither is ownable … Ryan Lavarnway is a strong catching prospect for the Red Sox and might even come up with David Ortiz out … Mike Scioscia is once again denigrating a young catcher's defense; This time Hank Conger won't come back up to the major leagues until he's throwing better he says … On a more positive note, Ryan Westmoreland (brain surgery) saw live pitching Wednesday for the first time since his surgery.


Eno Sarris is an editor and writer at FanGraphs.com. You can find his work gathered in one place at and enosarris.com. Follow his misadventures in writing on Twitter as well.
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