Posts Tagged ‘Injuries’

If you missed the news this morning, Alex Rodriguez may miss up to a month. This comes from Joel Sherman, after reports that yesterday’s MRI showed a slight meniscus tear in his knee.

Personally, I would rather see A-Rod get the surgery now and be healthy for the final 6 weeks of the season. I know CC pitched through a similar injury last season. But the Yankees have internal options (Brandon Laird, Eduardo Nunez, and maybe Eric Chavez) that can tide them over for 4 or 5 weeks. Having Alex able to launch bombs during the stretch run is much better than a singles hitter in the clean-up spot going into the playoffs.

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With the uncertainty surrounding Phil Hughes health, the Yanks may be left with a gaping hole in their rotation. To recap: after Andy Pettitte announced his retirement, Hughes was widely regarded as the Yankees #2 starter, behind ace CC Sabathia. Near the end of Spring Training, Joe Girardi announced that AJ Burnett would take the number two spot. At the time, the move was seen as bolstering Burnett’s questionable psyche. The Yanks broke camp with a rotation of Sabathia, Burnett, Hughes, rookie Ivan Nova and veteran Freddy Garcia.

Fast forward a month and we’re left with the mind-numbing reality that Hughes is hurt and tried to pitch through it. The results were, in a word, awful. 10 1/3 innings over three starts, allowing 23 baserunners and 16 runs (all earned).

Aside from Sabathia, the other starters still have major question marks. We’ve seen good Aprils before from Burnett, only to watch him fall apart as the season progresses. Right now, his ERA (3.52) is in-line with his career numbers, but that may not be good news: April is his best career month and his ERA progressively worsens until August. Garcia has been lights out so far, but he is an old 35 with a history of arm problems and the weather is warming. Those routine flyballs are about to start going a lot further. Nova has been basically what you expected – a good pitcher for 5 or so innings; then the wheels start to come off. By the second half, once the league has seen him, he may not even get through those 5 innings. Bartolo Colon has stepped in quite nicely so far, with 3.50 ERA over 18 innings. Questions remain regarding his durability, though: this is the first time he’s pitched in two years and he hasn’t tossed more than 99 innings since 2005.

The bullpen is already showing signs of overuse. The pen has thrown 37% of the team’s innings and combined for 64 appearances, in just 20 games. That pace is unsustainable – especially if Rafael Soriano continues to impersonate a piñata every time he takes the mound.

There aren’t any good options available at the moment. Kevin Millwood lurks in the minors, but hasn’t impressed anyone. Since his contract allows an opt-out if he isn’t on the 25 man roster by May 1, it is possible the team makes a minor move by optioning Lance Pendleton and bringing Millwood up. Carlos Silva is also toiling for minor league pay at the moment. Realistically, though, neither of those pitchers can be counted on to replace Hughes’ production. If the Yanks are at the trading deadline with the current rotation mess, they can expect to be held to a king’s ransom for even a middling pitcher – and to have to trade away the farm if they want to make a play for whatever ace is available.

So, the best option is for Hughes to get healthy and regain his form from the first half of last year. And for the Yankees to pray that this isn’t Chien-Ming Wang redux.

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Earlier today, Brian Cashman attended WFAN’s “Breakfast With a Champion.” By all accounts, he must have ingested some truth serum along with his waffles, because his answers were unusually frank. While most of the baseball world is buzzing with the news that he doesn’t think Derek Jeter will finish his current contract at short, to me the biggest news that came out of the event is this: Cashman doesn’t think Joba Chamberlain will ever be healthy enough to return to the starting rotation. ESPN’s Amanda Rykoff relayed this quote via Twitter:

“Francesa: Any chance of Joba in the rotation? Cashman: No. He hasn’t been same since injury in TX.”

Folks, the idea that Jeter won’t be playing shortstop when he’s 40 shouldn’t surprise anyone. But the idea that a GM who openly admits his pitching staff needs one more quality starter also admitting a prized prospect is too injured to start – wow.

Consider the implications. In one sentence, Cashman condemned the 25 year old to a career as a middle-reliever – and an injured one, at that. Any chance the Yankees had of trading Chamberlain for even a back-of-the-rotation innings eater are right out the window. If Joe Girardi even entertained the idea of giving Joba another shot at the #5 spot in the rotation, he’s just been undercut by his GM. Just for good measure, it also confirms the idea that Cashman & Co., by screwing around with the way they’ve handled the one-time phenom, destroyed a promising career.

I’m hard-pressed to find another instance of a general manager undercutting his own team this way.

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