March 28, 2005
Team Health Reports
Kansas City Royals
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1B Mike Sweeney: Counting on 400 at-bats from a $10 million player is not a plus. Sweeney's continued back problems are pushing him to DH or out of the game in short order. It's worse when that injured player can still lead the team in homers.
2B Ruben Gotay
SS Angel Berroa: The migraines are the only worry. If they recur, he could miss time with their debilitating and uncontrollable pain.
3B Mark Teahen
LF Eli Marrero: He became a lefty masher last season and now finds himself potentially part of another platoon, depending on where Terrence Long and Abraham Nunez find themselves. Marrero never has recovered fully from a needless ankle injury, suffered when umps wouldn't delay a game being played in awful weather.
RF Emil Brown
DH Ken Harvey: Harvey is a big dude who has had problems with his knees, his quads and his obliques. That history does notbode well, especially with Calvin Pickering working out with Mark Verstegen and holding PECOTA hostage.
DH Matt Stairs: That Stairs is only a yellow surprised me. He's something of an inanimate rod in RF, yet the rest of his stats--all in the past, mind you--are better than one would expect. He's still a born DH and probably the scourge of a softball league within the next couple years.
OF Terrence Long
SP Zack Greinke
SP Brian Anderson: Anderson is a placeholder pitcher and, odd for the type, one that tends to get better in the second half. He's crossed the 200-inning threshold twice and came close in 2003. The sad part is having a placeholder as a clear #2 pitcher.
SP Jose Lima: Jose Lima is what he is - a good quote, a showy pitcher with mediocre stuff, and an injury risk if he's asked to go too deep too often. Used as filler, he's fine. Used as an ace, as it seems the Royals need to do to protect Golden Greinke, it gets ugly fast.
SP Runelvys Hernandez: Best. Name. Ever. Hernandez will be returning from Tommy John and, as per normal, command will be the last thing to return. He had great stuff once and that should be back. I'm just not sure when.
SP Denny Bautista: Pedro Martinez's cousin has the same body type and same stuff. He harnessed his awkward mechanics after coming to Kansas City from the Orioles' system. He'll be tested beyond 150 innings and his mechanics will need to be watched closely by Tony Pena and Guy Hansen.
SP Mike Wood: He went 190 innings last year between K.C. and Triple-A Sacramento after a 2003 in which he pitche around 100 innings. That's a flag if I ever saw one. His state at the end of last year gives us an idea that his mechanics are all that's holding him together.
CL Jeremy Affeldt: Rany Jazayerli, a dermatologist by trade, might consider Affeldt as a greeter someday, much like casinos. "Welcome to Acne R Us," Affeldt will say. "If only we'd had Dr. Rany's Magic Blister cream back in my day," he'll wistfully ponder. For now, he's stuck throwing smoke and looking at his fingers to see if the blisters have developed after every pitch.
People often ask me which teams have the best medical staffs. I never answer, because all teams have pretty good medical staffs. Honestly, they're all qualified, all hard-working, all committed. Some teams just have better results than others. However, there's an odd pattern at the top of the 2004 results. When you see names like the Devil Rays and Brewers one and two, there's some thought that so-called small-market teams can somehow leverage the relative cost of injuries into an advantage.
Unfortunately, this has nothing to do with market size. It's the work of Roger Caplinger and Ken Crenshaw, along with their teams. At number three in last year's rankings are the White Sox, hardly a "small market" team. In fourth are the Cardinals. At the other end of the spectrum are teams like the Diamondbacks, Rangers and Red Sox that had some calculated risks and bad luck, for lack of a better word.
The problem arises when a team with fewer available risks has injuries pop up. A team like the Red Sox can take on injury risks. A team like the White Sox or Yankees can stash a TJ rehab for a year and a couple million bucks. The Royals can't.
The Royals have one significant injury risk in Mike Sweeney. He's also overpaid relative to his production the past few seasons. Rumors have swirled this summer that he might be traded to reduce payroll and risk. Sweeney, along with Marrero, Berroa and a golden young arm like Zack Greinke have to be the priority. Guy Hansen will be watching the pitchers, and Nick Swartz will be watching the rest of the team. At the end of the season, the Glass family will be watching the wins, the losses and the injuries to help make some hard decisions.