Weekend Update: Aaron Boone’s Got Heart – an Amazing Comeback!

In what would be the greatest comeback that I can think of in recent history, Aaron Boone is getting ready to make a run at returning to the Astros.  Boone’s career and life was put on hold to have open heart surgery to repair a defective valve in March.  He’ll play for two weeks in AA Corpus Christi, spend some time at AAA Round Rock, and hopefully return to the Astros by the end of the year.  God Speed, Mr. Boone.  [MLB]

Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano’s back is bad enough to require a DL stint.  He left his start about a week ago after three innings, and didn’t make a run at his last start.  [FoxSports]

Aaron Cook missed his start with a jammed toe, out of fear that it will mess with his mechanics.

There really isn’t a trading deadline – is there?  David Weathers snuck through waivers and was sent from Cincinnati to Milwaukee for a PTNL.  Weathers is just a season away from 1000 lifetime games.  For those of us who saw him in Florida a long time ago, this seems amazing.  For those of us in Florida wondering if we can get an extra arm in the bullpen, this is disappointing that Milwaukee can do this but Florida cannot. [ESPN]

Stop me if you heard this before…  Houston’s Mike Hampton had to leave his start Saturday with a knee injury and is considered day-to-day (start to start?). [MLB]

 Cleveland’s Jake Westbrook can’t recover from his elbow injury because even his rehab starts get halted due to elbow pain.  A visit to Dr. Yokum is forthcoming.  [MLB]

A rested Gil Meche is expected to start for Kansas City on Thursday…  Meche is a very, very good pitcher and the Royals need him.

Welcome Back!  Eric Stults returns to the Dodgers from Albuquerque.  Except for the occasional injury trip, he should have never left.  Ronald Belisario returns to the Dodgers from the DL.  Yorman Bazardo returns to the Astros from AAA.

Hurry Back!  Angel starter Joe Saunders heads to the DL with shoulder soreness.  Boston SS Jed Lowrie has ulnar neuritis in his balky left wrist and heads to the DL.

Bye – and stay out!  Luis Ayala was sent to AAA by the Marlins.  I didn’t like that they signed him.  Good riddance.

Soto Not Out of the Weed(s); The Doc Who Gives Female Fertility Drugs to Ballplayers

It’s not enough that he’s barely hitting his weight, struggling through what has been a difficult sophomore season with the Cubs.  Now comes word that Geovany Soto tested positive for marijuana during the World Baseball Classic while a member of the Puerto Rican baseball team.  Soto will not be suspended, but may be fined and will likely get more regular drug tests.  Soto calls it an isolated incident.  What was isolated about it: the usage, or getting caught? 

If you were wondering what doctor would prescribe a female fertility drug to cure some “illness” with Manny Ramirez, you aren’t alone. Apparently, Federal DEA officials are investigating the person whose signature is scribbled on the RX form; one Philip Publio Bosch, a 71-year-old family practitioner in Coral Gables, and his son Anthony, who apparently is the person who put Ramirez in touch with his doctor daddy. Dr. Bosch has a clean slate, according to initial reports, but Anthony has at a reputation for hanging out with sports types for more than a decade. 

Seattle’s Yuniesky Betancourt heads to the DL after smoking his right hamstring running out a grounder in the eighth inning Thursday. Ronny Cedeno gets a shot at short for the near future. 

He started the season as the Pirates #2 starter, and now Ian Snell is in AAA Indianapolis, having been demoted. With a 2 – 8 record, Snell was told to work on throwing first pitch strikes and work on his breaking pitches. If this were a team with depth or options, like Philadelphia or the Yankees, Snell would be sent to the DL with soreness or inflammation and get a few rehab starts to do the same thing. 

Atlanta reliever Jeff Bennett was angry about giving up a two run hit to Alex Rodriguez, and in anger punched a door with his left hand (thankfully, as we learned in Bull Durham, he threw his non-throwing hand). However, the door won – the hand is broken – and Bennett will take a turn on the DL. 

Koji Uehara says his elbow is fatigued, pulling himself out of his start against the Marlins after six innings. Spencer Fordin, writing for MLB.com, reports that Uehara is struggling with pitching every fifth game, rather than once a week as he did in Japan. The Orioles have tried to ease the transition, but Uehara is already scheduled for a checkup with the team orthopedist. 

I watched a little of John Smoltz’s first start against Washington – and while he had good velocity, he threw a lot of pitches up in the zone and got tattooed early. By the end, though, he was fine and even fanned the side in the fifth. 

Welcome Back! Ryan Freel, Cubs infielder, returns from the DL. He’ll be back soon. Brad Lidge was activated today by the Phillies. Jose Lopez went home to Venezuela for a death in the family – he returned to the lineup today. God Bless…

Hurry Back! Reed Johnson, Cubs outfielder, with lower back spasms. John Buck gets a rehab assignment in Omaha before he returns to the Royals. Eric Stults, my second favorite Dodger starter, gets a rehab stint with the Inland Empire 66ers.

Afterthoughts… The Detroit Tigers signed draft pick Giovany Soto – a pitcher. Now, if he could wind up pitching one day to the Cubs catcher, that would be cool.  Magglio Ordonez and Vladimir Guerrero both cut their hair and homered that night.

Volquez Leaves Early and Everybody Strains a Groin

That didn’t last long…  Edinson Volquez makes his return for the Reds and lasts one inning – leaving with numbness in his pinky and ring fingers of his throwing hand.  An evaluation is forthcoming.

When is nothing a news article?  When a Houston Chronicle writer blogs about the Chicago White Sox showing interest in Roy Oswalt – and then White Sox GM Ken Williams denies that rumor publicly.

The New York Yankees topped Cleveland, setting a new errorless string in the process at 18 games.  A team will make an error at a rate of about five errors every eight games – give or take.  Consider it a coin flip – so to have won that coin flip 18 straight times is pretty remarkable.  It’s also contributed to winning because unnecessary runs don’t show up on the scoreboard.

Ichiro tied his own Mariners record by hitting in his 25th straight game.  MLB.com listed the Mariners who cleared 20 games, and it’s pretty much Ichiro – a lot – with an odd Joey Cora or Richie Zisk tossed in for good measure.

The Cleveland Indians are sharing the injury bug as well as any team.  Rafael Betancourt has been placed on the DL with a strained groin (hope it’s his own), making it eight players on the DL right now.  (Victor Martinez was able to play tonight – so they got lucky there…)  Coming back is Tony Sipp.  Sipp was hurt a couple of years ago, but has those dominating strikeout numbers that makes you hope that he’ll bring the good stuff to the majors – like nearly 12Ks per nine in the minors.  He was crazy wild, though, in his first stint, so let’s hope he leaves that wildness back in Columbus (AAA).

Strained groins are the injury of choice.  The Mets placed Angel Pagan, who was called up because of injuries to every other Mets outfielder (kidding, sort of), on the 15-day disabled list with a strained groin.

I was watching the Marlins game when two Brewers outfielders left with potential injuries – Mike Cameron and Ryan Braun.  I’m guessing both are day-to-day.  By the way, as a Marlins fan, it was nice seeing Jorge Julio blow a lead for someone else this time…

On the Mend?  Houston’s Jose Valverde threw from a mound for the first time since going to the DL with a calf injury.  The fading Astros need Valverde back as soon as possible.  And, Seattle’s Kenji Johjima says his toe injury is way better than originally feared.  Ervin Santana heads to Salt Lake City for a rehab stint and the Angels are two weeks away from a healthy and solid rotation (one prays).

Anibal Sanchez is going to come off the DL and start for the Marlins on Tuesday.  His rehab start in Jupiter went well and Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez hopes to get five good innings out of him.

And, Hiroki Kuroda, who hasn’t started since opening day, came off the DL to start for Los Angeles Monday night.  His return was well timed – the guy who replaced him, Eric Stults, just went to the DL himself.  Kuroda pitched well, but his Dodgers failed to win.

Not on the Mend?  The Yankees got some bad news today – both Xavier Nady’s and Jose Molina’s rehab efforts were curtailed with those nasty twinges…  In Molina’s case, he was catching when his injured quad acted up.  For Nady, it was an elbow that balked at throwing.

Justin Duchscherer’s elbow may be ready, but we’ll never know because he’s got a bad back.

Welcome to the show, Steven Jackson – the Pirates’ choice to replace Donald Veal.  Jackson was a 10th round pick of Arizona in 2004 out of Clemson and has hung around AAA for a few years now.  He has decent control, but not a great strikeout pitch.  Sent to the Yankees in the Randy Johnson deal, he started to show progress in 2008, but didn’t get a shot.  Eventually released, the Pirates grabbed him off the waiver wire a few weeks ago and he’s been okay.  Not a prospect, but he MIGHT eat a few innings for Pittsburgh.

If you are interested in reading more about Barry Bonds and how the Feds are going to appeal decisions that would disallow various testimony in the Bonds perjury trial, click here.

Moyer’s Milestone and Hamilton is Hurt (Again)

Jamie Moyer, left for dead about 15 years ago, won his 250th game Sunday night against Washington. I always liked him – he’s a poor man’s Tom Glavine, and now they have about 555 wins between them. Guys like Moyer need a few breaks and he got his with Baltimore, putting his career back together in the minors, and then getting tossed to Seattle where they needed someone to eat innings. He not only ate innings, he put batters to sleep, winning 20 twice and last year getting a ring. I have all his Topps baseball cards and will flip through them again tonight before I crash.

Wouldn’t want to be on Cleveland right now with everybody going down to injuries. I mean, Carl Pavano is DUE, right??? I mentioned earlier that Grady Sizemore’s elbow was bothering him. Now he’s on the DL with what is defined as left elbow synovitis. Victor Martinez might be next.

Zack Greinke’s ERA went over 1 (1.10) in a no-decision against the White Sox. The bullpen tanked for the Royals. Joakim Soria may be back this week, and it’s not a moment too soon.

Meanwhile, backup catcher John Buck gets a DL stint with a slight herniation in his lower back. Ouch. Brayan Pena gets the trip from Omaha in his place.

The first to twenty homers is San Diego’s Adiran Gonzalez. The Marlins gave up on this guy because, at the time, they had Derrek Lee and other options, but boy can he hit.

The Yankees haven’t made an error in 17 games, tying a ML record.

The struggling Josh Hamilton crashed into a wall a few days back, but since then has had a stomach injury that will require an MRI.

Eric Stults, who had pitched so well in place of Hiroki Kuroda, goes to the DL with a left thumb injury. His replacement, Travis Schlichting, is a converted third baseman who’s making quick strides in the minors but may not be ready. Stults injured his thumb making a diving play on a slow roller. I like Stults, and hope he’s right when he says he’ll be back soon.

Donald Veal is going to Pittsburgh’s DL. I never heard of him either. With ten walks in five innings, he’s straining more than just his groin.

On the mend? Kyle Lohse may return to the Cardinals soon, and J.C. Romero’s PED suspension is nearly over, meaning time to get pitching for the Phillies again.

May ends with the Yankees, Detroit, and Texas leading the AL – who would have thought Texas would have the best record in the AL? Boston, trailing NY by a half game, would be the wild card rep.

In the NL, Philadelphia has now edged ahead of NY, Milwaukee leads a strong NL Central, and Los Angeles is running away with the West – I was way off on that one. They won’t win 108 games (current pace), but they are getting a lot of mileage out of odd places. Eric Milton and Jeff Weaver were left for dead and they are contributing now. Miracle, really. St. Louis would have the wild card in a very close race with NY, Cincy, and Chicago.

NOTE: Transaction and Injury Data from MLB.com’s Players/Transactions Page.

Drew, We Hardley Knew Ye; Kuroda to DL

San Diego optioned Drew Macias back to the minors after putting in a waiver claim on relief pitcher Luis Perdomo and then giving him a slot on the roster. Macias made two pinch hitting appearances…

Perdomo could be solid. Originally signed by the Indians as a free agent (Perdomo hails from the Dominican Republic) in 2003, Perdomo has scalded lower minor league levels – in three seasons, he has 191 strikeouts in just 157.1 innings, allowing a paltry 103 hits. Not sure how this guy got away – he was a Rule 5 selection by the Giants in the spring (taking him from St. Louis), then they waived him. The Padres put in a claim and now he’s a big leaguer. He throws in the low 90s, but is a sinker/slider type pitcher. Perdomo turns 25 (assuming that his age is right) later this month.

With Hiroki Kuroda heading to the DL with a strained rib cage injury, the Dodgers called up Eric Stults from AAA. Stults has been with the Dodgers since they drafted him out of Bethel College in 2002. Stults has progressed slowly, getting shots with the big league club each of the last three years and actually doing better every year. He’s not going to blow you away, but he throws strikes and tends to keep the ball in the park. Last year, he made seven starts with the Dodgers, striking out 30 and walking 13 in 38 innings and winning two of five decisions. I thought he might have a shot to make the team out of spring training, but it didn’t happen. Stults MIGHT actually get a couple of starts with the Dodgers, and probably wouldn’t be a bad pickup if you were the owner of Kuroda and waiting for his 15 days of healing time.

2009 Season Forecast: Los Angeles Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers
2008: 84-78 (1st NL West)

One of the great mysteries, as I see it, is trying to reconstruct how the Dodgers did what they did.  This is a team that, on the surface, looks like it should have clocked the division – but it didn’t.  Joe Torre’s job, as I see it, is to figure out how to make them play more consistently at the high level shown not just in September but at other odd stretches throughout the season, and eliminate some of the huge stretches of losing streaks that plagued Los Angeles for much of the season.

Looking Back on 2008

Looking at the roster, you had a lot of potential in the young players like Andre Ethier, Chad Billingsly, Jonathon Broxton, James Loney, and Matt Kemp, surrounded by the veteran presence of players like Rafael Furcal and Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, and Derek Lowe.  Plus, you had the new sage leadership of Joe Torre and his management crew – guys like Don Mattingly and Larry Bowa.  At the beginning of the season, many (including me) had them winning the division and possibly making a run deep into the playoffs.  And they did – but it wasn’t in any way a dominating performance.

Instead, you had a wildly inconsistent team.  The Dodgers were capable of winning ten out of eleven, just as well as losing ten out of eleven.  Nearly unbeatable at home, the hitters didn’t produce on the road and the pitchers might as well as not got off the plane on the road.

Right away, the Dodgers lost nine of twelve to fall into a deep hole as it coincided with the hot start of the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Facing Colorado twice, the Marlins and Mets at the end of April, the team ran off ten wins in eleven games, to get five games over and back into the race.  However, with Andruw Jones hitting half the Mendoza line, and Brad Penny fighting through injuries and pitching poorly, a second slump pushed the Dodgers seven games under .500 after getting swept by a lousy Detroit team in mid-June.

Not quitting – and getting Penny and Jones out of the lineup – the team rallied gamely back over the next six weeks, winning a few more than they lost into mid-August when another extremely poor streak (losing eleven of 13) would have appeared to bury LA.  The last of the losses was to Arizona.  Any other manager might have been fired, but Joe Torre was left in charge – at which point Manny Ramirez put the Dodgers on his back.

Los Angeles won the last two against Arizona and never looked back.  Winning fourteen of sixteen, the Dodgers not only roared back into the race but caught the fading Diamondbacks, holding them off thanks in large part to a weak schedule for the last two weeks of the year.  The Dodgers finished with San Francisco, San Diego, Colorado, and Pittsburgh down the stretch, while Arizona imploded.

Manny Ramirez continued his hot hitting into the playoffs, but by then the Dodgers had to face really good teams (Chicago and Philadelphia) and one of them was bound to be hotter.  Philadelphia finished off Los Angeles one series shy of the World Series.

 
Tell me about that offense

The Dodgers had a lot of solid performances up and down the lineup, but had two or three really poor performances that prevented this team from looking really as strong as they probably should have been.

The two best hitters didn’t play 90 games combined.  Rafael Furcal played in just 36 games, Manny Ramirez 53, but in those 89 games, I see them as having created about 117 runs – an unreal total.  The problem was that both players were negated by two others, Angel Berroa and Andruw Jones, who hit like two non-prospects from AA.  Much has been written about Ramirez’s hitting .396 in two months – at a pace that would have created 50 homers and 160 RBI in a full season.  But Furcal was also remarkably productive – in about a fourth of a season, he paced out at 20 homers, 30 steals, a .340 bat and a .440 OBA, a leadoff hitter any team would wish for.

They just weren’t here all year.

Behind the plate, Russell Martin played every game (not really – 155 of 162) and only really wilting in August, but playing well in September.  Few catchers have as well rounded a game as Martin – a little power, decent baserunner, works the count.

The infield was pretty sold, except when Angel Berroa had to play in Furcal’s absence.  Aside from Furcal, Jeff Kent was still an above average run producer and Blake DeWitt hit just as well as Kent.  James Loney isn’t a bopper at first base but still contributed close to 100 runs, hitting like Mark Grace without the batting eye.  Casey Blake and Nomar Garciaparra were decent fill-ins offensively.  Berroa, however, consumed outs and didn’t generate any offense (about 3 runs per 27 outs).  Not having Furcal all season probably cost the Dodgers 60 runs of offense.

In the outfield, Ethier and Kemp were both worth 110 or more runs offensively, with good power, some speed, and, in Ethier’s case, a willingness to work the count.  Jones was awful (2 runs per 27 outs); where he once created 110 runs a season or more, he was on pace to create about 35.  Forced to play Juan Pierre, Pierre did what you would expect – hit singles, ground out a lot, and steal a few bases.  He was slightly above what the average player delivers, but the net loss caused by Jones’s poor season was probably another 40 runs.

Then, you look at the rest of the bench and you see a lot of holes.  Mark Sweeney was asked to pinch hit a lot.  In 92 at bats, he got 12 hits.  Berroa was so weak as a hitter, the Dodgers gave innings to Luis Maza and Chin-Hung Lu, both of whom were even worse than Berroa.

Jones, Furcal, and the weak bench kept this team from scoring 800 runs, which would have been near the top of the National League – impressive for a team playing in Dodger Stadium.

Defensively:

Not so good.  Behind the plate, Martin is average – good with the pitchers, weak against the run, and makes a few too many errors.  Danny Ardoin occupied the bench a lot.

The infield features James Loney, who looks rather immobile for such a young player, and is missing a fielder at either second or third.  Offensively, Casey Blake and Jeff Kent and Blake DeWitt were interchangeable, but only DeWitt can field.  Once Kent lost his mobility, Torre made the right decision to play DeWitt at second and let Blake play at third.  If Manny Ramirez doesn’t come back, I think the Dodgers may miss Andy LaRoche.  Berroa played decently in the field, while Furcal’s numbers were way off thanks to injuries.

The outfield was generally weak.  Jones is no better than an average centerfielder, Kemp is slightly below average.  Ethier is weak in either corner.  That leaves you with left field where Pierre isn’t really that good at running down flies (for as fast as he is, he is consistently below average defensively).  Ramirez was surprisingly interested in fielding for two months – the best corner outfielder they have.

Ideally, the Dodgers would love to have a burner in center and move Kemp to right, Ethier to left – but I don’t see that happening soon.  And, thankfully, Jones is gone.

Now Pitching…

Just as the offense had to studs and a couple of serious burnouts, the pitching staff had a couple of studs, some good complimentary arms, and two guys who just killed them.

Chad Billingsley’s first full season as a starter was a decided success, finishing nearly 24 runs better than the average pitcher in 200 innings.  Derek Lowe was nearly as good, another 20 runs above average.  Hiroki Kuroda was slightly above average, and Clayton Kershaw showed enough in 100 innings that if he gains command of the strike zone, he could become a solid #2 starter.  After that, the Dodgers prayed.  Brad Penny was miserable, costing his team nearly 23 runs that an average pitcher wouldn’t have allowed – basically negating one ace – and the scraps given to Greg Maddux and Eric Stults were tolerable.  At least Stults looks like he has a future.

The bullpen was nearly as good as Philadelphia’s – with Takashi Saito holding down the closer role until he had to sit with a sore elbow.  Jonathon Broxton was solid as a setup man, and other pitchers, like Joe Beimel, Cory Wade and Hong-Chi Kuo were well above average pitchers.  Only Scott Proctor – also marred by a sore elbow – didn’t pitch above average on the season.

Forecasting 2008:

If there is optimism here, I don’t see it – and it really starts with the pitchers.

Billingsley was marvelous but it was his first season, and now he’s recovering from a broken shin bone suffered while falling on the ice in November.  He should be healthy, but he could be good and still ten runs worse than last year.  Lowe is gone – his likely replacement could be Randy Wolf, who has been generally unimpressive since coming back from injury three years ago.  If he actually gets to 200 innings and is better than planned, that would be league average and likely another 20 runs worse than last year.

Kuroda and Kershaw will be expanding their roles – not totally confident that either will make significant strides in any direction.  Let’s call that a wash over last year – but with more innings pitched.  That leaves the fifth spot, which could go to Stults, or Jason Schmidt (yeah, still here and collecting a paycheck), or Claudio Vargas.  If Schmidt is really healthy (the first surgeries were okay, but a clavicle repair in the fall apparently cleared up his pain and he’s throwing freely for the first time in years), this could be a big upgrade – a 30 run upgrade.  If not, it’s still going to be better – maybe 10 runs better.  I’ve seen a list of the other options and none of them impress me.  Jeff Weaver?  Really?

And, the bullpen is thinner.  Saito is with the Red Sox, Beimel is unsigned but still a free agent.   Wade and Kuo are still here, and Broxton was promoted to the closer role.  However, the potential replacements are Ramon Troncoso and Guillermo Mota, none of which have had a solid season in the majors in the last three years (granted Troncoso is just 25).  NRI options include Yhency Brazoben and Shawn Estes (really?).  Granted, an injured Proctor is gone, but the bullpen certainly won’t be better than last year.  More realistically, the bullpen will be 20 runs worse than last year. 

Defensively, the Dodgers would improve if they moved DeWitt back to third and played recently acquired Mark Loretta at second.  Only problem is that Loretta is 37 and likely just an insurance policy.  So, the infield will still be a challenge unless Furcal can return to the form he showed three years ago.  Furcal still has the arm, but he is 31 and collecting injuries at too quick a pace.  The outfield, already slightly below average, is likely going to remain below average.  Kemp and Ethier might perform a little better, but Manny will not and a full season of Juan Pierre in the outfield isn’t making anything better.

Offensively, the team is already pretty solid.  Kemp, Ethier or Loney could turn doubles into homers with another year of seasoning – and Ethier is at that age where a breakout season is possible.  The net effect should be about twenty runs better than before.  A full season of Furcal would help – it’s worth 15 more runs than having to play Tony Abreu or Lu at short.  Casey Blake, however is, 35 and may lose a step.  DeWitt has potential for improvement, but he’ll be playing his first full season.  Let’s see what happens.

Russell Martin is the question mark.  If asked to play 150 games again, I don’t think the offense holds up.  And, if he cedes games to Danny Ardoin or the unretired Brad Ausmus, they’ll lose ten runs by letting those guys bat.  If Martin goes down, the loss would be devastating.

And, if Manny signs, he’s not going to hit .396 all season.  Heck, he might not be here at all.  My take on it is that if he signs, the Dodgers will score about 710 runs this year.  If not, it might be closer to 670 runs.  If Manny isn’t back, when coupled with the decline of the pitching and defense, and the Dodgers are a candidate to finish under .500.  Even if he returns, we’re talking about a team that MIGHT with 82 games. 

I’m not that confident.  I think Joe Torre’s last year will be a year of distractions and underperforming.  If I were a betting man, I’d look at the over/under on the number of wins listed in Vegas and bet the under.  The system says 84 wins with Manny, and 79 without him.  My gut tells me 77 wins will be successful.

Down on the Farm…

After a couple of years in Las Vegas, the Dodgers are going back to Albuquerque for AAA games.  A couple of guys may make the move…  Eric Stults and Jason Johnson both pitched well in Vegas.  Stults is a long shot prospect, but Jason Johnson you might remember from stints in Detroit, Baltimore, and other major league outposts.  He’s 35 and running out of time.  Even Stults is rather old for a prospect – he’s 29.  Most of the batters for Las Vegas were older than Stults – those who are younger are now on an MLB roster.

The AA team is also moving from Jacksonville to Chattanooga in 2009.  The best player for Jacksonville was the son of a former Dodger prospect, Ivan DeJesus, Jr., who will likely be Rafael Furcal’s replacement in 2011.  He has a bit more power than his dad, and his batting eye looks to be a bit better, too.  Clayton Kershaw already made it to the bigs, leaving Scott Elbert, a former first round draft pick, as the next best pitcher on the AA staff.  Elbert has been slow to move up, but strikes out a lot of minor league hitters.  His next stop looks to be Albuquerque.

Carlos Santana looks to be the catcher of the future, after a solid season in A ball, and he’s still just 22.  He hit well, showed some power, and good plate discipline.  After that, it’s slim pickings.