Injury update: The Phillies remain shorthanded. Carlos Ruiz is out of the lineup and available only in emergencies after spraining a right knee ligament. Brad Lidge is also day-to-day with right elbow inflammation. Also, Juan Castro is still sidelined with a strained left knee, but could be back soon.Sign stealing: It’s been a busy 48 hours in the Beerleaguer household, but thankfully, the schedule reads “Phillies, Phillies, Phillies” the next three days. On this whole sign stealing snafu, what can I tell you, other than I think the Phillies were caught red-handed. The league found the results inconclusive, but the warning from baseball, and growing list of allegations, is fairly damning evidence against the sainthood of the Phillies in the court of public opinion, at least outside of Philadelphia. But the issue isn't so much whether they were stealing signs, a tradition as old as the game itself. The issue is whether they're gaining a conclusive, competitive advantage, or rather, a competitive advantage in a sport already layered in gamesmanship. In this case, I have my doubts. Here's Mick Billmeyer, watching Colorado's pitcher and catcher through a pair of binoculars. Let's assume he was stealing signs, which he probably was. But how does that information get relayed to the batter? Maybe through some useful advice the next turn through the order. A coach as schooled as Billmeyer, and with as little to do as Billmeyer, sits in a vantage point to construct a thorough, on-the-fly scouting report by reading signs and watching for tips in the pitcher's delivery. But even that's a stretch. The other issue is whether it's a big deal in a game rife with cheating. To me, it's a little obviously over the top and worth a slap on the wrist. Which is what baseball gave them.
Lidge and the 9th: Today's other hot topic was the favorable medical report for Brad Lidge, who may not be saving many games, but is dynamite at saving himself from structural damage. The news was supported by a whole host of articles talking about options down on the farm, led by Scott Mathieson. Put it this way: Charlie Manuel doesn't even appear comfortable handing the ninth to Jose Contreras, who's been a competitive, capable pitcher over 1,095 Major League innings, plus 45 in the postseason. Sorry Scotty. No chance.