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March 5, 2008
Team Health Reports
Scott Lauber from the Wilmington News-Journal made this real easy for me by essentially writing what I would have written here. He also did it two weeks ago, so I won't bother to try to re-create it. What I will note is the trend line for the Phillies is a bit aberrant. Scott Sheridan's first year on the job isn't atypical, in that any new athletic trainer is going to make for some changes, and whether they're good in the long term or not, the short term can often move negative. It doesn't help that he's following long-time trainer Jeff Cooper, one of the best in the business; in Philly, it's like being the third baseman after Mike Schmidt.
So, in his second year, Sheridan is going to be asked to answer whether last year's numbers were fluke or trend. It's not that they were that bad; on a purely statistical basis, they were slightly below the median, but the injuries to the pitching staff picked up significantly. Yes, there were the flukish oblique strains, an injury that no trainer has yet figured out how to forestall. If there's any positive trend, it's that the Phillies got guys back, effectively and ahead of schedule, in a year where one game meant a lot. Getting Cole Hamels back or keeping Brett Myers healthy in his incarnation as the club's closer are all positives, which makes me think that with a year under his belt, we'll see an improvement on the raw numbers for Sheridan's staff.
Since it is essentially the same team that Sheridan has back, this situation will provide an excellent year-over-year comparison. With the known risks in the rotation and the same solid but thin lineup, we'll know next year if the Phillies have a longer-term health issue.
C Carlos Ruiz : He's got the job, but with only Chris Coste () behind him, Ruiz will be asked to make a big jump in games played this season. Coste's book is coming out, but don't think that it might not affect playing time. Ruiz is closer to red than a full yellow, and anything involving his appearing in 125 games would put him solidly there.
2B Chase Utley : Utley's wrist injury didn't seem to bother him in the least after his return. There was a slight power drop that showed itself more in doubles than in HR. That bodes well for this year, though some power drop in the first half wouldn't be a surprise. If it stays at level, it's a big endorsement of Sheridan's rehab planning.
SS Jimmy Rollins
3B Pedro Feliz : Few seem to realize that he's already 32, and at the hot corner, that's pretty old. The stats of guys like Scott Rolen and Troy Glaus--the injury stats, I mean--factor in here. One interesting note is that the two big moves on the field this year, Feliz and Jenkins, came over from two of the top three medical teams.
LF Pat Burrell
CF Shane Victorino : Like Jacoby Ellsbury, Victorino doesn't seem the type to go red. By way of explanation, it's the type of player--young, early-career center fielders--and not the specific player that's risky.
RF Geoff Jenkins : Jenkins comes in as a placeholder. Paired with some combination of Chris Snelling () and Jayson Werth (), he's going to give Ol' Cholly Manuel some options. As long as he's essentially a half-time player, he's likely to be pretty effective.
SP Cole Hamels : I once compared Hamels to Mark Prior. It was meant as a compliment, but could work either way. Hamels' back and elbow problems make him riskier than most. For more, see today's Big Question.
SP Brett Myers : If you want to compare Myers to John Smoltz, you can. I just don't think it's correct. Myers missed a month with a shoulder strain and survived as a closer. Back in the rotation, I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see him have a similar shoulder problem by midseason.
SP Kyle Kendrick : Kendrick was a big surprise as a rookie, and while he went 200 innings over two levels last season, only 120 were at the major league level. Doing it all in the bigs puts him at risk and gives the Verducci Rule a big test.
SP Adam Eaton : It's not related at all to Eaton, but the next two starters would likely be J.D. Durbin () or Chad Durbin (). I don't think they're related, so it might be even more of an oddity. There's also Travis Blackley (). All that adds up to the idea of Eaton not getting as many innings as it would take to get him to red. However, he's still very risky, in more ways than one.
RP Tom Gordon : That he's still good after all his problems over all these years is a real testament to modern sports medicine. Expect him to continue the pattern of getting hurt for a while sometime during the season, but good the rest of the time. I'm a bit worried that the early-season closing he'll be asked to do might not be a good thing for his durability.
CL Brad Lidge : Umm, so much for being green. Lidge had off-season surgery on his plant knee, then had a second surgery on the other side of that same knee. While it's a minor injury and an equally minor surgical correction, the concern is that it might alter his already tenuous mechanics and cause some sort of secondary cascade. Since the Phillies have Gordon available, they can afford to be cautious with Lidge at the start of the season. Apart from that, he's relatively healthy, though his intermittent control issues worry me about his elbow's longer-term durability.
Lineups courtesy SportsBlogs Nation.