Saturday, March 20, 2010

2010 Stories To Watch, Part IX

  • I'm churning 'em out:

Combine the prolific frequency of Stephen King with the pomposity, pretentiousness and pablum of Jonathan Franzen and you get the PAULLEBOWITZ.COM 2010 Stories To Watch!

Until the season starts, this...will...not...end.

Cliff (Stone Cold Killer) Lee's injuries:

Despite morphing into a ruthless and brutally efficient assassin in the past year, Cliff (Stone Cold Killer) Lee is not indestructible.

In the latest injury for Lee (diagnosed immediately following his 5-game suspension for throwing at the Diamondbacks' Chris Snyder), the Mariners ace 1A will miss at least a week with an abdominal strain. On the injury note, this is after Lee underwent surgery right before spring training for a bone spur on his left foot.

The abdominal injury is a bigger concern for Lee than is being suggested by the Mariners; he's had similar problems in prior years with the Indians. In 2003 and 2004, Lee missed substantial time with abdominal injuries, so it's not something to dismiss as "minor" and it could be a big problem for a somewhat short-handed team that's relying on their two aces (Lee and Felix Hernandez) at the top of the rotation to keep them in contention in a very rough division.

Almost identically to the Diamondbacks of 2009, if the Mariners lose either Lee or Hernandez, they're not going to contend because the rest of the team is a series of questions.*

*Speaking of which, Milton Bradley got ejected for the second time in three days for arguing a called third strike immediately after I wrote that the ticking time bomb that is Milton Bradley was one of the keys to the Mariners season.

Some are floating the idea that Jarrod Washburn might be a worthwhile signing for the Mariners as insurance.

Yah. Right. He's a step above....Jason Vargas!!!!

Teams built in such a way must have health from their stars; and if they don't have it, things can spiral very, very quickly.

The Cardinals are in the same situation as the Mariners----almost:

The Cardinals are another club that's top-heavy with stars and reliant on cogs to fill out the roster. Through no fault of their own, they were dealing with the silliness that is the Buster Olney report that the Phillies wanted to trade Ryan Howard for Albert Pujols. Then yesterday, Chris Carpenter got shelled by the Marlins for six runs and seven hits in the first inning.

Spring training results aren't the issue for a pitcher of Carpenter's caliber----they're meaningless; but with Carpenter's extensive injury rap sheet, there's always a sideways gaze cast on him with every move; and it's not as if there's one body part that keeps breaking down. His entire body is always at risk of a pull, strain, tear or tweak. Even in the weak NL Central and the genius of Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan, the Cardinals will be left scrambling if they lose Carpenter for any amount of time.

As stunning as it was that Carpenter was able to return to form and pitch masterfully last season after another injury (to his oblique) sent him to the disabled list early on, it was indicative of Carpenter that he was: A) almost unhittable; and B) hurt.

These issues have been the hallmark of Carpenter's career. With the Blue Jays, he was overused by then manager Carlos Tosca, got injured and was released. (Nice move from J.P. Ricciardi.) He rehabbed with the Cardinals, cleaned up his motion with Duncan and won a Cy Young Award while finishing 2nd and 3rd in the voting in two other seasons. He also missed almost the entire 2007 and 2008 seasons with injuries.

The Cardinals need Carpenter and they need him healthy. The outing wasn't a concern; the potential for another catastrophic injury is.

The Mets youngsters:

I said it before and I'll say it again: suddenly the Mets farm system isn't looking so bad.

The brilliant play of Fernando Martinez; Ruben Tejada; Ike Davis; and Jenrry Mejia has opened eyes around baseball. Undoubtedly the predators who think the Mets are saddled with the in-bred stupidity of a creature from Texas Chainsaw Massacre are waiting to pounce and try to trade for the whole system for a veteran player in a futile attempt to win now.

I'm not prepared to say the Mets won't do something stupid, but they've been resistant so far. These are the Mets we're talking about, paragons of self-sabotage that they are, there's always a chance of doing something disastrous.

I believe they've learned their lesson, but we'll see.

There are two situations that bear close watching----20-year-olds (born within three weeks of each other in 1989) right-handed pitcher Jenrry Mejia; and shortstop Ruben Tejada.

People (including manager Jerry Manuel) are proposing that Mejia be kept in the big leagues as reliever; and they're also saying (again, manager Manuel) that Tejada is going to be in the minors so he can play every day.

Having looked at both and the Mets current circumstances, they've got it backwards.

I don't care how good Mejia looks. If I were running things, Mejia is in the minors as a starting pitcher going every fifth day with an eye on him joining the club late in the season as a weapon out of the bullpen for the stretch run a la Francisco Rodriguez with the Angels in 2002 and Joba Chamberlain with the Yankees in 2007. Mejia needs to pitch without pressure; he needs to hone his command. He's not quite ready regardless of how great he's looked in the spring.

As for Tejada, the Mets have a dilemma that's not really a dilemma if they really think about it. They have no idea when Jose Reyes is going to be able to play. By now, it's almost assured that he's going to miss opening day and the club is adamant (with some wiggle room) that if Reyes is out, veteran Alex Cora will play shortstop in his stead.

I'd roll the dice on Tejada., let him play to start the season and hope he's able to handle the pitching. He's far superior defensively to Cora; has handled himself with maturity in the spring; and his youthful energy will be infectious to the club and fans. Sometimes these injuries are fortuitous. If Tejada plays well until Reyes's return, there's always the option of shifting him to second base in front of Luis Castillo.

Giving Tejada a chance for a couple of weeks in April and sending him down if he's truly overmatched won't hurt him; but I don't think he would be and, as admirable as Cora is as a player, how much worse can Tejada be as a hitter even if he struggles?

The move could be a sparkplug for the Mets that they never anticipated. It happens sometimes and it's worth the shot to see what they have.

  • Viewer Mail 3.20.2010:

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Ron Washington:

I think the Washington case is interesting. Most of the substance abuse headlines have involved players, so this is sort of new territory. Backman was fired immediately, but domestic abuse isn't a victim-less crime. I honestly don't know what to think, although I'm inclined to agree that they should send him packing.

I don't know what the holdup is unless there's more to this story that the Rangers want to keep hidden; but if that's the case, I'd think they'd rather get it out there, let the bomb go off and conduct one big cleanup rather than have a series of moderate explosions of varying frequency and devastation pop up intermittently for the club to spin their way out as they happen. If there's an incurable infection, you cut it out. This won't end until Washington's gone.

John Seal (West Coast Spiritual Adviser) writes RE the Athletics:

Alas, the A's immediately released Jay Marshall. Perhaps he'll resign with them...or settle for a minor league deal with the Mets once his shoulder recovers.

I have it on good authority he suffered the injury whilst arm-wrestling with Brad Ziegler.

I'd think someone would sign a side-arming lefty no matter how bad he's been in his big league chances. Tony Fossas and Mike Myers lasted forever due to the good fortune of being born left-handed.

Arm wrestling?

Is that allowed under the Billy Beane dictatorship under terms of permissible inmate activity?

And where was Bob Geren during all this? Refereeing?

Then again, who is one such as I to question the judgement of a GENIUS!!!!

1 comment:

Gabriel said...

I think the Cardinals are in a little better shape than that, they have a better lineup than the Mariners and Brad Penny will eat innings and win around 12 games at least.

On another concern, what do you think of Dustin McGowan? Seems like he's been hurt forever, and maybe it's time to call it a career. Whenever he feels ready, he's shut down due to soreness, fatigue or pain. I don't think it's realistic for the Blue Jays to count on him anymore.