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March 11, 2010

Team Health Reports

San Diego Padres

by Will Carroll

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Team Health Reports 

The Summary: As with their division rival Arizona, the Padres will be noted mostly for one injury—Jake Peavy. That Kevin Towers was able to trade him during the injury says as much about the former general manager and the team's need to dump payroll even after a sale as it does about Peavy. But, like Daisuke Matsuzaka, Peavy doesn't seem to do well with the World Baseball Classic. The ankle injury should heal, but there's always questions about a pitcher cresting 30 with a history of minor injuries that could affect his pitching motion. He's Herm Schneider's problem now, leaving the new-look Pads with... well, nothing much. From a health standpoint, this team is as beige as their road unis. They'll likely have some of their cheap free agents that they'll end up having to try to duct-tape together, but whether the Pads come out near the top or bottom of the injury stats in 2010, it won't tell us much about how good this medical staff is. And it is.

The Facts
Days Lost:
1,404
Dollars Lost: $13,288,542.39
Injury Cost: $19,697,222.22

The Cost: San Diego was just slightly under the league average in terms of dollars lost in 2009, as the Padres lost only $13.3 million due to injuries. Going back three years, the Padres have been one of the more successful teams, losing only a combined $27.9 million. The Padres may not have lost as much money as many of the teams in baseball, but that doesn't mean injuries didn't hurt them. San Diego was second in baseball in terms of days lost to injury, finishing only slightly behind the last season's M.A.S.H. unit: the Mets. San Diego was hit with injuries to pitchers Peavy and Chris Young and outfielder Brian Giles; that cost all of them the majority of the season and the Padres $9.8 million. San Diego grabbed Jon Garland for just over $5 million as a free in the offseason to provide innings and leadership to the mix of young, inexperienced or somewhat injury prone/risk rotation members, or all the things that Garland is not.

The Big Risk: Not too long ago, Jon Daniels of the Rangers had a "young" problem. People insisted he was too young for the GM job and, as proof, they pointed out that he traded Young. Now, while it's still not the best trade, Young's looking like Daniels had the right idea dealing him. He appears to have an innings ceiling around 175, but hasn't gotten near that for two years. Coming off a frayed labrum last year, we have to wonder if he'll be able to get back to that ceiling this year—or at all. If his drop in K rate was solely the shoulder, he should get some of that back. He's also a smart pitcher, so he could make adjustments we wouldn't expect. PECOTA probably won't come up with this comp, but it wouldn't stun me if he turned into Jamie Moyer. Moyer was iffy at best, though showed flashes, up to about age 30, right where Young is now.

The Comeback: Garland is boring. He's league average in everything, so the beige uniform makes sense. So why is he The Comeback? There's an interesting pattern where pitchers who live around the 200-inning mark tend to stay there—until they don't. Yes, that's a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, but with Garland, he's been above the 190-inning mark since 2002. Sure, his peripheral numbers are nothing to get excited about, but there's one number that's key: six. As in the sixth pitcher, the replacement you never need if you have Garland in the rotation. As in the sixth-inning guy, which you seldom need. There's no reason to think that Garland won't put up another season of 190 innings-plus, and while his numbers might not look like a comeback, you might consider what his replacement's numbers might have been and give him a bit more credit.

The Trend: The Padres have slid backward as the talent level has gone the same way. Last year's day and dollar figures were crushed by the injury to Peavy, but helped when Towers traded away some of that time and cost. All in all, the numbers show some bad luck to an average staff. The five-year numbers tell a different story, with the Pads in the top 10—if just barely—there. The Padres' medical staff is going to need a solid 2010, as much of the organization is shifting around them. It's probably a bit dramatic, but Todd Hutcheson and his team should pretend they're playing in a contract year. Then again, almost all medical staffs do that in every year.

The Ratings

Red light LF Kyle Blanks: Blanks is a big dude. That's no news flash. Any weight on painful feet is bad. If you've ever worn uncomfortable shoes, you kind of understand what Blanks is going through. Plantar fasciitis lingers, but an eventual move to first base might not help.
Red light SP Chris Young: See The Big Risk.
Red light SP Mat Latos: Latos is red because PIPP sees him having to go more than 150 innings this season, which would be a big jump in terms of his workload. The Padres are ahead of this, wanting to keep him from exceeding 150 already. So, the red is "right," but the Padres will likely render it moot. Balancing the need to keep him healthy long term with wanting to win more than a handful of games is a tough act.
Yellow light C Nick Hundley: Hundley is close to a red, but these ratings were compiled before Yorvit Torrealba signed. I'd imagine a re-run would push him into the middle of yellow, which is about the best you can expect from a back-up catcher.
Yellow light 2B David Eckstein: Gritty, gutty, and at 35, he's unable to go full effort as he has to on every play and stay healthy. We saw the start last year with a lot of niggling injuries. He's probably the kind of guy steroids would really help, ironically.
Yellow light SS Everth Cabrera: It's hard to blame Cabrera, a Rule 5 guy, for breaking his hand or for the Padres in taking their time bringing him back. The downside is it looks to PIPP like he's a slow healer. With almost no time at the upper minors, we'll learn this year if Cabrera will be able to hold up in a full season. Expect fatigue to be his biggest enemy by the break.
Yellow light CF Scott Hairston: Like his brother, Scott just can't seem to stay healthy. He's a master at picking up the dings and bruises that a high-effort guy does along the way. He seemed a bit better with the San Diego staff than in Oakland, but that's likely just noise. Expect some missed time, which could be costly in a crowded outfield.
Yellow light SP Kevin Correia: If Correia was younger, I'd be worried about the massive innings jump. He's not. He could bounce off the 200-inning ceiling, but while he's often struggled to stay healthy, it's never been his arm. In his first really healthy season, he finally showed what he can do. Now, he has to prove that '09 wasn't the fluke. I'm willing to play along, up to a point. Yellow's about right here.
Yellow light SP Clayton Richard: Richard's facing an innings increase, though I imagine he'll be helped a bit by his new park. He's also the only player I've ever had Sterger ask about, so if you know Clayton, tell him he has a fan.
Green light 1B Adrian Gonzalez
Green light 3B Chase Headley
Green light RF Aaron Cunningham
Green light SP Jon Garland: See The Comeback.
Green light CL Heath Bell: You've got to root for a guy like this. I still have no idea how he lost a bet that badly to Shawn Hoffman.
Green light RP Luke Gregerson  


Related Content:  Gutty,  Jon Garland,  Year Of The Injury,  Comeback

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