Here's a score you might have missed from Monday's action: Tommy John 2, Fantasy Baseball 0. A sad day for a couple of major stars, and their fantasy public.
• Albert Pujols had the surprise announcement Monday, telling KSDK-TV in St. Louis that he's leaning towards having his right elbow ligament replaced after the season ends. This is generally a six-month rehab process for a hitter, so if the Cardinals miss the playoffs, Pujols would, in theory, have a fair shot at being ready for Opening Day 2009. "The sooner that I get it done, the better it's going to be for me, because I'm going to heal quicker than if I wait two or three more years," Pujols explained. "It needs to be done."
The writing was on the wall for Billy Wagner for most of August, and the other cleat has finally dropped. He's headed for elbow surgery and according to SNY.tv his career could be in jeopardy. "If all goes well, he'll be able to pitch in about a year's time, following the surgery," Mets GM Omar Minaya said Monday. Luis Ayala will hold down the ninth inning in New York for the rest of the year; it's anyone's guess what the team will do with its bullpen in 2009.
It's going to be one of those injury-dominated Closing Time entries, let's hang tough and get through it together:
• B.J. Upton left Monday's game with a strained quadriceps muscle and he'll probably sit two more days. According to the Tampa Tribune, Upton suffered the injury in the first inning at Boston, trying to track David Ortiz's blast to left field. "It didn't feel too bad at the time, but as the game went on it kind of got stiffer and stiffer," Upton said. I felt like if I had to run hard it was going to go, and pretty much now is not the time for that."
• The Angels are going to skip Jered Weaver Tuesday against the Yankees, letting him rest the cuts on his pitching hand (middle and ring fingers). Given that Los Angeles already has a playoff spot all but banked, you can't blame the club for this call. Ervin Santana, perhaps the AL's most underrated starter, will go Tuesday in his place.
• Aubrey Huff returned with a splash Monday, hitting a grand slam as the hard-hitting Orioles kicked around Fausto Carmona and the Indians. Huff sat out the previous few days with stork duty (congrats, it's a boy), and he's also been batting a sore hamstring. It's too late to get your hands on Huff, but see if Adam Jones (5-2-3-4, homer) or Luke Scott (5-2-2-2, homer) fit your plans over the final three weeks.
• Roy Halladay is set to work Wednesday at Chicago, and if the Jays stay hot, he might come back and pitch Sunday on three days of rest. Toronto swept the Rays over the weekend, but they're still 8.5 games back in the wild card race.
• Emmanuel Burriss had two hits and a steal Monday against Arizona, continuing his fine play of late (.369 over his last 21 games). The 23-year-old is considered the team's shortstop for 2009, as the Giants finally look to permanently replace Omar Vizquel. Burriss has no power to speak of (.325 slugging), but he does have 13 steals in 18 chances.
• Jon Lester continues to do his best work against the Yankees and Rays; he spun a beauty against Tampa Bay Monday (7.2 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 9 K) and improved to 14-5. Maybe I'm missing someone, but this looks like the runaway Comeback Player of the Year.
• There was a jet stream blowing out in Detroit Monday and the batters took advantage, with the Athletics and Tigers combining for 22 runs and 25 hits. Jack Cust and Curtis Granderson took full-game collars, but everyone other swinger got something good, so dig in.
• Speed Round: Clay Buchholz won't be back with the Red Sox this year, a logical call given how things have fallen apart with him. Let the kid regroup, and start again next fall . . . Yusmeiro Petit was hit hard for the second straight start, which could make him the odd man out with Randy Johnson returning and Max Scherzer off an electric 11-strikeout turn . . . Rain wiped out the Blue Jays and White Sox, so the teams will play a deuce on Tuesday. Toronto now has a crazy eight games scheduled for the next six days, weather permitting . . . Three hits and three steals for Jimmy Rollins, who's recaptured his joie de vivre over the last couple of weeks . . . Three more hits for Asdrubal Cabrera, pushing him to .302 in the second half. He'll be an interesting deep-league call next spring, because his full-season numbers from 2008 are going to screen him nicely . . . Jack Wilson has a fractured finger and is likely done for the year.
• Is Brandon Wood finally ready to make a splash for the Angels? He rapped out two homers and three hits in Monday's laugher over the Yanks, making him 11-for-33 over the last week and change. I know it's hard to trust a guy carrying that .183 average around, but let's not forget how highly touted Wood was just a year or two ago.
• Salomon Torres has two blown saves and another loss over his last five appearances, and Monday's mess was the worst of the lot (1 IP, 4 H, 3 R). Hometown hurler Dave Bush was in line for the win before Torres fell apart. Otherwise it was a pretty clean night for the save-chasers, as everyone else converted with a scoreless inning: Jose Valverde (41), Brad Lidge (35), Francisco Cordero (28), Jonathan Papelbon (36). Andy (The Mad Hungarian) Behrens gets the ball Tuesday night, and I'll be back for the ninth on Wednesday.