Archive - Jul 2009

July 30th

A Bone to Pick

Time for a little rant.

In this era of internet fast - rapid dissemination of information, we've expected our hard-hitting beat reporters to keep asking the tough questions. Yesterday, the reporting on Reed Johnson's foot injury disappointed me. The news was lightning fast. I got a twitter text message from David Kaplan regarding Johnson's X-Rays showing a fracture in his foot. Then before blinking an eye there were links to articles from all of the major beat writers...Tribune's Paul Sullivan, Gordon Wittenmeyer/Sun-Times and Bruce Miles/Herald

July 29th

Game 99 Recap: Cubs 12, Astros 0

Just Need an Better Extra-Point Kicker.
W - Wells (7-4), pitching to contact, GIDP chances
L - Hampton (6-8), pitching badly to contact

Things to Take from This Game
1.  The batters hit well.
Hampton didn't have much control or stuff today, giving up 9 runs in 4 innings.  The game was over after the first, which saw the first nine batters either get hits or advance a runner on a sacrifice, resulting in  six runs.  No one on the team had more than two hits, and only Soriano got to three RBI, courtesy of the home run in the first.  Among the hitters only Fukudome, who replaced Johnson early in the game for reasons yet unknown, failed to get on base. (Update: As Cubster reports in the second and thirty-eighth comments, Johnson has a fracture in his foot.)


2.  The batters don't hit Wells.
Randy Wells only had one strikeout, on a generous check swing call.  But the Astros didn't hit much of anything hard, recording just six singles.  The Cubs seemingly had a GIDP opportunity in every inning and converted four of them.


3.  First! (s)
The game featured Wells' longest outing in the majors to date, eight innings, and in consecutive at bats, the first major league homer and triple for Blanco and Hoffpauir.  Mitch Atkins made his major league debut in the ninth, pitching a scoreless inning.  It's also my first game linking to the awesome FanGraph's Game Graph pages, too.  Oh yeah: we might regain first place, depending on the Cards' game tonight.


The nothing-to-complain-about details, below.

Cubs Win Streak Ends at 5

The Cubs five-game win streak doesn't make it to six and and the loss coupled with the Cardinals win over the Dodgers, drops the Cubs back to second place. Ryan Dempster returned from the disabled list and was nothing short of awful. 5 IP, 9 H, 3 K and 5 ER, 6 total and the error was his own. But at least he didn't walk anyone! With the Cubs catching a huge break when Roy Oswalt left in the second inning with a back injury, the Cubs just needed some decent pitching to stay in this one and they sure didn't get it from Dempster or the bullpen. 


July 27th

Lucky Number 13

For the second time in a week the Cubs go 13 innings, but manage the win this time to keep a half-game lead in the NL Central as the Cardinals defeated the Dodgers (Brewers lost again to drop 4 back). The class of the Central division since June, the Astros waltzed into Wrigley on the shoulder of the über-hot Wandy Rodriguez (4 straight wins and 0.62 ERA in July) and he didn't disappoint, holding the Cubs to a run on 7 strikeouts in 7 innings. Z matched those 7 innings and one run, although with just 4 K's and 4 BB's. That left it up to the bullpens and the Cubs' proved to be just a little bit better tonight

Alfonso Soriano had goat written all over him, going 0/5 with 3 K's and
failing to run on a tap out to third base that he claimed hit his toe.
Then with the bases loaded and 0 outs, he got one more chance and
launched one deep to center on top of the center field restaurant for
the win and give the Cubs the opener.


It's National Rumor Week

It's everyone's favorite time of the year, so gather the kids around the fire and let's speculate away to our heart's content.

Cardinals - Like those annoying folks that get their Christmas shopping done early, the Cards are probably done wheeling and dealing picking up Matt Holliday and Mark DeRosa. They missed out on the Christmas sales and paid a steep price in prospects, but they should help a team that has basically been riding a 16-7 April to justify the spending spree.

Brewers - They found an early deal getting Felipe Lopez to play second base for them and you know they're searching far and wide for a starting pitcher. They seemed to scoff at adding Doug Davis into that Lopez deal, but looks like they have their sites set on Wisconsin native, Jarrod Washburn.  Considering they have the third worst ERA in the league, and second worst among starters, I'm not sure adding Washburn and his Safeco-aided ERA is really gonna be much of a boost.

July 26th

July 25th

The Ted Lilly Chronicles --The Knee Bone is connected to the Shoulder Bone

Bruce Levine reports Ted Lilly goes to the DL, righty reliever Justin Berg (acquired in the 2005 Matt Lawton trade from the Yankees) gets called up from Iowa. Lilly's MRI-Arthrogram apparently didn't show "any significant abnormalities" (possibly showing tendonitis but no structural damage) but as we've all seen what the media gets to report and what the radiologist and orthopods see isn't always identical.

Levine also says Lilly has agreed to having his sore left knee undergo arthroscopic surgery (scheduled for Monday) to clean up Lilly's meniscus (link to anatomy pic), speculating that he can be back in 3 weeks if they do that now.

From a report on Levine's ESPN-1000 radio show, Lilly said the shoulder got his attention the day after the game in Philly. The shoulder felt "a little unusual". Yesterday he tried to throw and had sharp pain. He said he was familiar with it as it felt like his symptoms in Toronto. Lilly said he expects himself to come back in 3 weeks...

Based on my experience, how long it takes to recover from a knee arthroscopy varies greatly and 3 weeks is certainly possible but continuing to push the envelope on these injuries is like playing with fire. This implies the medical staff thinks Lilly's shoulder injury is a cascade problem, meaning that his knee soreness lead to altered pitching mechanics that secondarily lead to the shoulder problem. I found evidence that they connected his knee and shoulder woes when his shoulder took the brunt of the blame in 2005. 

From this article on the Bluejays archive circa Spring 2006:

Last year, he said he had a tendency to have a "stiff" landing with his right leg, which put unnecessary strain on his throwing shoulder. Perhaps not coincidentally, Lilly sat out last spring with a shoulder injury.

I did some additional background research on Lilly's shoulder problems from 2005. Back then his diagnosis was biceps tendonitis (link to anatomy drawing). He missed most of spring training and started his season by coming off the DL 4/10/05 but had a rough April and worked through the problem until it flared up at the end of July 05. This lead to a 2nd DL stint lasting 5 weeks. 2005 wasn't kind to Lilly producing a 10-11 record but Lilly is a tough guy and naturally he didn't make his injury an excuse in this end of season interview from the Bluejays site.

"To put it very mildly, I'm disappointed in the way I've gone out there and competed," Lilly said Wednesday after his last start of the season. "I guess, coming into this year, I just expected us to be competitive in this league. And [I expected] myself to really make a push to help us do that."

To be fair, injuries played a large part in his inability to meet those goals. Lilly missed all of Spring Training with a case of shoulder tendinitis, and when he came back, he clearly wasn't ready to pitch in the big leagues.

Regarding the 2009 version of Ted Lilly, his shoulder tendonitis/torn knee meniscus might just take 3-5 weeks if they don't push things and add the knee arthroscopic surgery to his recovery list. Getting Lilly back in September is just like trading for an All-Star for the pennant stretch (slamming head in Rob G's door).

A chronology of the Ted Lilly 2005 biceps tendonitis after the fold...



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