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Top post-deadline developments
July 31 is a benchmark date on the baseball calendar, not as mystical as opening day but of greater practical importance. It is then that the non-waiver tables at baseball’s swap meet are mothballed, to reopen only after the World Series.
Yes, we will see claims awarded and role players moved between now and Aug. 31. For the most part, though, help is hard to come by. Self-sufficiency is the first, and sometimes only, option for needy organizations.
With that in mind, here are the seven most significant developments across the major leagues since last Saturday at 4 p.m. ET.
If baseball were fair — and it’s not — the Red Sox would use the same 25 players from start to finish next year.
That certainly hasn’t happened this year. Anyone who is anyone has taken a trip to the Fenway Infirmary.
To their credit, the Red Sox haven’t caved. Buchholz, John Lackey, Beckett and Jon Lester are lined up for a pivotal four-gamer at Yankee Stadium. If Ellsbury and Lowell hit, Boston may have enough horsepower to contend into September.
The Phillies have won four straight — three coming after Howard landed on the disabled list with a moderate left ankle sprain.
It helped that Roy Oswalt was much better Thursday in his second start with the Phillies than he had been in his first.
The return of Carlos Ruiz from the disabled list in mid-July has been a boon for the Philadelphia lineup, and Utley appears on track to return by the end of this month.
The Phillies trail the Braves by only two games in the National League East. Six head-to-head games remain — all during the last two weeks of September, when Philly could be back at full strength.
Speaking of the NL East, the Braves are suddenly banged up
Throughout the season, the Braves have been lauded for their depth — hence utility man Omar Infante on the NL All-Star team.
But even with the deadline additions of Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth, the Atlanta roster looks a little thinner these days.
Martin Prado, the All-Star starter at second base, is on the disabled list with a fractured right pinky finger. And now Kris Medlen, 5-0 with a 3.86 ERA in 14 starts, may be finished for the year because of a torn elbow ligament.
Two significant losses, by any measure. Mike Minor, the star prospect Atlanta refused to trade last month, will replace Medlen.
In a tight race with the Reds, Cardinals get bad injury news
There was no good week for this to happen. But the timing for St. Louis — right after the deadline — was particularly lousy, because there’s little that General Manager John Mozeliak can do about it.
On Tuesday the Cardinals announced that David Freese, who batted .296 as the everyday third baseman, would have season-ending right ankle surgery.
St. Louis also placed infielder Tyler Greene and setup man Jason Motte on the disabled list during the week. Motte’s injury was described as an AC joint sprain, which can’t be good, especially for a max-effort reliever.
Also: It’s hard to know how much Kyle Lohse will contribute when he comes off the disabled list; he allowed five earned runs over five innings in his most recent rehabilitation start.
Questions linger about the Tampa Bay bullpen
And this week, a Tampa Bay reliever took the loss in back-to-back games — due, in part, to a quirky catwalk at Tropicana Field.
But we know that a lot will be asked of this bullpen in those late-season games against New York and Boston.
After buying at deadline, Dodgers slip
Yet the Dodgers are 2-7 over their last nine games. A home defeat against San Diego on Thursday night dropped them nine back in the loss column.
In the midst of that, catcher Russell Martin was lost for the season with a torn hip labrum.
One wonders if an August freefall, combined with the McCourt divorce, would prompt cost-cutting moves later this month. Manny Ramirez, anyone?
Torii Hunter is playing right field now. What does that tell you?
The Angels have made a desperate move, and the Tigers would probably do the same — if they had any healthy players to maneuver.
The Angels are 10 games out in the AL West. The Tigers are nine back in the AL Central. Coincidentally, they meet in Detroit this weekend.
It’s the elimination round.