March 9, 2009
Team Health Reports
Head Trainer: Sean Cunningham
Trend: Negative. It's the second straight down year for the Marlins after a flukish 2006 during which they had less than 500 days lost. Much of last year's total-and this can be said for many teams with over 1,000 days lost-is the result of pitchers who were injured for the full year, and who should have been accounted for earlier, if there was a method for backdating. Anibal Sanchez's shoulder was hurt during that 2006 season, but he spent 2007 and 2008 rehabbing. The Marlins had three pitchers and one position player who were out the full 184 days; that 700 day-plus cost doesn't actually tell us as much about the 2008 season for Sean Cunningham's staff as it does about the commitment that the team is making where their players' health is concerned. The Marlins have always operated on the theory that there was someone else who could do the same job, and do it cheaper, making players essentially disposable. Down here on the extremes of payroll scale and player development, there's an argument to be made that they may be right.
The Shape of the Season:
The Big Question: Joe Frisaro, MLB.com's Marlins beat writer asks: "Will reliever Scott Proctor, who is resting a bout of scar tissue in his throwing elbow, be the workhorse the Marlins are expecting in the back end of the bullpen? He is in no-throw status to Wednesday or Thursday. The hope is all will be fine by Opening Day. But will it?"
It might seem odd to ask about a middle reliever on a team with this many red and yellow players, but this goes hand in hand with the pitching injuries that the team has suffered through. The lack of money going back three ownership groups has always left the pen thin, putting more pressure on the starters to go deeper into games. Deeper starts cause fatigue, and for the young pitchers that tend to end up in the Florida rotation, injuries follow. Guys like Proctor have value beyond what they can do to hold off runs; they're actually easing the starters' workload. Getting him healthy will help to avoid episodes like those seen with Henry Owens, Logan Kensing, and Renyel Pinto.
Fantasy Tip: Draft Hanley Ramirez. That may sound simplistic, but Ramirez is someone that defies normal injury problems and team contexts, making him a solid #1 pick. While some had worried about his shoulder going into last year's draft (myself included), he showed no signs of trouble. (Yes, that's why I drafted B.J. Upton very high in the Fantasy 411 draft.) Wins are hard to come by for this pitching staff, but Matt Lindstrom has filthy stuff, and he should get most of the closing opportunities.
1B/3B Dallas McPherson: Sure, he crushed the ball in a hitter's paradise, but it's the scouts, not the numbers, that kept Jorge Cantu in front of him. At 28 years old, and with an extensive history of lower back problems, he may never get the chance to be Russell Branyan, but with the Marlins, you never know. It's this kind of guy that the Yankees should think about if they absolutely need a short-term fill-in at third base... unless Chien-Ming Wang is on the mound.
SP Ricky Nolasco: Once Nolasco figured out the splitter, the rest of the league could no longer figure out Nolasco. It was as dominant a new pitch as we've seen since Roger Clemens or Esteban Loaiza first began using the splitter, but that's not to say Nolasco is Clemens now (or even Loaiza). It's also important to note that one good stretch does not mean that he's no longer an injury risk. Actually, some studies have indicated that the splitter is one of the few pitches with a real "pitch cost."
SP Chris Volstad: Volstad could probably keep Babe Ruth in the park in a Babe Ruth park. His heavy ball reminds many of Brandon Webb, and the only real concern is that, because he looks and pitches like an innings eater, the Marlins will try to make him eat a lot of innings as a 22-year-old. If you believe that the Verducci Effect should integrate major and minor league innings, then Volstad doesn't have much to worry about. Of course, the system doesn't believe that, and it gives us this red. It's wrong here, or maybe Skynet has become sentient.
SS Hanley Ramirez: Ramirez has a little of the Albert Pujols syndrome-just how good would he be if he was healthy? He's had issues with both shoulders.
C John Baker: One front-office type who I spoke with told me of a theory he'd heard from scouts: that catchers who struggle defensively can try so hard to overcome their inadequacies that they can overtax their arms, their backs, and their legs. Players like this might not last long enough to factor in to what we know, but it's an interesting theory. Baker is one of those guys, though the system is doing this based solely on playing time and position.
CF Cameron Maybin: Maybin has had some minor injuries to his legs and back, and at such a young age, that's a little troubling. It has never affected his speed, which should count for something, and seemingly does. The yellow results from those injuries combined with some concerns over his workload.
RF Jeremy Hermida: Good enough to tantalize, Hermida's occasional injuries have slowed him down just enough to frustrate his believers. Is J.D. Drew Lite a compliment, or an insult?
SP Josh Johnson: He's looked good since returning from Tommy John surgery, but it's not so far in the past that he's completely beyond it. With the TJ "honeymoon" period comes the chance that in the weak link in the kinetic chain there is something else waiting to break. (See: Ben Sheets.)
SP Anibal Sanchez: That Sanchez is just a yellow is a testament to the hard work that the medical staff has put in on him over the last few years. Still, his injuries show the bigger risk that exists for a team like the Marlins-if they're only be able to hold onto a player through his control years, then losing a year or more to injury reduces the value that they can squeeze out of him. Of course, they don't have as much risk in squeezing a bit harder, though that should preferably be done toward the end, rather than at the beginning, of a players' service clock.
SP Andrew Miller: Miller has been successful throwing across his body, but if you know about Kerry Wood's injury history, you'll know why the Fish are working to change Miller's delivery. He'll go through some rough times while making the adjustments; for pitchers, altering their mechanics is like changing positions in the field. There's a spike in injuries until the body adjusts.
2B Dan Uggla
3B Jorge Cantu
LF Cody Ross
CL Matt Lindstrom: His stuff is so filthy that you might wonder why it took him so long to get this shot; the Mormon mission was his choice, but the broken arm he had was not. He might be as missed by the Mets as Scott Kazmir, if it was as good of a story.