April 7, 2004

When it rains, it pours

Injuries. They'll kill you every time.

In Tuesday night's game, the Twins lost Joe Mauer, Johan Santana and Torii Hunter to injuries. Hunter and Santana sound as though they will be okay (although Hunter didn't play last night and may have to go on the DL), but Mauer tore cartilage in his left knee. He will need surgery to repair it and will likely be out for about a month.

Obviously, losing Mauer really stinks. Not only is he a huge key to the Twins' season, he is a rookie who everyone has incredibly high hopes for, and he was off to an amazing start (.750/.833/.750 in six plate appearances).

When I heard Mauer was out for a month (you should have seen how many e-mails and instant messages I got yesterday afternoon!), I tried to remain calm. I told myself it wasn't such a huge deal, as long as the injury wasn't serious, because Matthew LeCroy could slide from designated hitter to catcher, and Michael Cuddyer could replace LeCroy at DH.

As I wrote yesterday afternoon over at THT Live, "A catcher/DH combo of LeCroy/Cuddyer is not much of an offensive dropoff from Mauer/LeCroy and it actually might be a little better."

Then yesterday's game started and, sure enough, Matthew LeCroy was behind the plate. The injury bug soon bit him too, as he had to leave the game with what was immediately called a "rib cage injury."

Turns out, LeCroy has a "strained oblique," which is bad enough that the Twins immediately placed him on the disabled list. So, in the span of about 24 hours, the Twins lost their starting catcher and the guy who was going to step in and replace him.

Now, they are left with Henry Blanco, a career .219/.295/.353 hitter in 1,404 plate appearances, and a 23-year-old rookie named Rob Bowen, who will hastily be called up from the minors. Suddenly, I'm not so calm about all these injuries.

We are three games into the season and the Twins are without their starting catcher and their starting DH, their best starting pitcher has a spastic forearm, and their center fielder has leg problems.

As if all that weren't enough, I'm pretty sure they are going to end up a losing Mike Nakamura, a relief pitcher I've spoken highly of several times, to waivers.

With all the innings the bullpen pitched in the first two games, the Twins felt it was so important to call Seth Greisinger up from Triple-A that they cleared a spot for him on the 40-man roster by designating Nakamura for assignment.

That means any of the other 29 teams can claim Nakamura off waivers, and I expect that to happen, as his minor league numbers are extremely impressive. In fact, I'll be shocked if the Twins don't lose him (getting even more specific, I'd say there's a 50/50 chance the Blue Jays are the team that claims him).

You know the old sports cliche people say when something bad happens to their team -- "If you'd have told me at the beginning of the year that the Twins would be 2-1 right now, I'd take it"? Well, that's BS. I'd take 0-3, some healthy players, and Mike Nakamura.

Anyone out there have the power to make that happen for me?

Today's picks:

Cincinnati (Acevedo) +160 over Chicago (Clement)

Montreal (Ohka) +150 over Florida (Willis)

Atlanta (Thomson) -160 over New York (Erickson)

Total to date: $465

W/L record: 8-7 (3-3 yesterday for +110, thanks to a nice +210 on Colby Lewis over Barry Zito.)

*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

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