When are we going to talk about something other than injuries when it comes to baseball? This weekend it was Chase Utley’s knee update and Ryan Madson’s lost season.
Quickly on Madson, the former Phillie is headed for Tommy John surgery and will not pitch in 2012. The injury costs the Reds a closer, costs them 8.5 million and costs Madson a chance at a big payday this off-season. When Madson missed out on a 40+ million dollar deal with the Phillies, it was a bit of a black-eye for Scott Boras, but most people assumed he’d eventually make most of that money back. Now, Madson will be pitching on the cheap in 2013 to rebuild his reputation as a healthy arm. No one feels sorry for Madson only making 8.5 million, but it’s a good reminder of how fleeting things are and the danger of long-term deals. Yes, it makes the Papelbon signing look a lot better, but Papelbon also must stay healthy. In terms of Philly impact–I wouldn’t expect the Madson injury to encourage Cole Hamels to sign a long-term deal quickly and I wouldn’t expect to see Madson back in red pinstripes in 2013 as a set-up man. He clearly feels scorned by the Phillies, adding a lost year of his earning prime on top pretty much guarantees Madson will have Philadelphia as #30 on his wish list.
Chase Utley’s health has a much more direct impact on the Phillies’ season. For a few hours Saturday, there was wild speculation that Utley might retire. Utley cultivates this reality with his position on talking to the media. With nothing to go on, scribes seem to gravitate toward worst-case scenario. I think Utley would rather go through micro-fracture surgery with no anesthesia than give a simple press conference. It’s his choice to deal with the press and reveal information the way he does, but he shouldn’t be surprised when they don’t just happily reiterate his silence. It seems ridiculous that Utley doesn’t at least understand why people are curious about what’s going on with his injury.
And, to that end, we can talk a little bit about some building animosity toward the previously untouchable Utley. A fan looks at this at this and says we want to know what’s going on because we care. We’re the reason you make 15 million. We’re not being nosy about your personal life, we’re being nosy about our favorite team. Utley seems incapable of making that distinction and when you play every day and hit .300 with 25 homers, no one pays much attention to this quirk. But when you miss large chunks of time, your production falls off a cliff and you still happily collect that 15 million? The least you could do is answer some questions.
Utley has always been able to do no wrong in this town, a printing press in his basement cranks out Get out of Jail Free cards at an alarming rate. Hustle, drop an f-bomb on TV, that’s pretty much all it takes to get a free pass but fans have been treated to less and less Utley moments over the last year and the questions are finally starting to creep in. Is he doing everything he can to play? Is he hindering his own rehab with his aversion to surgery? Is he forthcoming with the Phillies and the doctors? Chase is still miles away from generating any real animosity among the fans, but the pedestal is on its way down, it’s at least returned to Earth’s atmosphere. Utley no longer resides in the heavens.
I’d say about 5 to 7 people over the last week have asked me what the Phillies are going to do with their lineup. “Who’s going to play where and when?” It’s a great question and one I’ll be taking a stab at in mailbag-style Phillies preview that I’ll probably trot out next Monday. So, if you’ve got any burning Phillies question you want answered before the season starts, let me know, and I’ll include it in the Preview-Bag. No pressure, I’m more than capable of making up the questions myself as you’ve seen in the past.
I’d like everyone to think of me this evening, take a moment and say, “that could have been me.” I’ll be participating in an auction-style fantasy baseball draft. There are 13 teams in the league. It should take the better part of…all night. I’ve never done a baseball auction. In fact, I haven’t played fantasy baseball in years and years. It is, the ultimate fantasy sports marathon. If the 1st World War never occurred, the term “war of attrition” would still be a part of lexicon thanks to fantasy baseball. You have to want it, and want it badly. I’m not sure I do. I have made preparations for the draft. I’m going to give the draft an honest shot and we’ll see from there. So, if anyone has any last-minute sleepers out there, you can hit me up. One guy I won’t be bidding on? Jamie Moyer. I’d take Madson before him.
It was a wild weekend in terms of NCAA pool standings. I was charging. I looked like Tomba la Bomba attacking a slalom run, from the depths of obscurity into the top-5, but then, North Carolina lost and the air left the balloon. Roy Williams is the absolute worst. Anyway, I think three or four people held the lead at various times over the weekend. Things are shaking out, but still plenty of candidates to take home the top prize–pride. Some scenarios…there could be others.
- If Kansas Beats Kentucky…Da Dawg comes from nowhere.
- If Kansas Beats Louisville…Jessica Nixon’s bracket wins; presumably for Jessica Nixon
- If OSU wins…McNabb Eli makes Big Dub an unlikely champ
- If Kentucky beats Kanas…Cara’s Mom will beat Cara’s Dad by an eyelash
- If Louisville beats OSU…chalk it up for Switzen Suz