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March 23, 2009

Team Health Reports

Philadelphia Phillies

by Will Carroll

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Team Health Reports

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Team Audit | DT Cards | PECOTA Cards | Depth Chart

Head Trainer: Scott Sheridan
Days Lost: 801
Dollars Lost: $9.6 million
Injury Cost: $10.9 million

Trend: Positive. It's even better than it looks here, since more than 500 of the days lost were to three pitchers who didn't factor significantly into the team's plans in '08. They managed the minor injuries very well, making sure that injury risks like Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth weren't pushed back out too quickly, while never seeming to fall behind the expected return dates. They did very well returning Brad Lidge to form after minor knee surgery during spring training. Scott Sheridan was in his first year as head trainer, but he's been part of their solid staff for years. There's no reason to expect any major changes in their numbers this season, and the team should stay near the top of the division.

The Shape of the Season:

graph

The Big Question: A.J. Daulerio of Deadspin asks: "Shaved labrum? It always seems like injuries like this one linger, and Chase Utley is the kind of guy that pushes through things. I have a sense he'll overdo it and end up with the same kind of problems again."

You're exactly right, A.J.; this is a worry with any injury, but especially with something like this. While Alex Rodriguez and Mike Lowell have similar problems (we're also seeing more of these in hockey), there is still no roadmap for a comeback. With Utley showing no signs of trouble so far through spring training, we have to be guided by the player and the way he's functioning, which is always difficult. A trainer has to believe that the player is telling the truth, and you'd assume that the longtime staff in Philly has Utley's trust, but it's a fine-line situation that makes it nearly impossible to judge from the outside. There are hardly any similar cases to guide us in looking forward to a possible career path, but for the short term, I still think that Utley will be an elite second baseman, and one of the best players in the NL.

Fantasy Fact: There's much to like here, with several elite-level players and pitchers. On the downside, winning a World Series implies some luck combined with a confluence of solid, if not career, years. It's one thing to expect Jimmy Rollins or Ryan Howard to stay at their current level, but Chase Utley shows just how tough it can be to stay healthy while putting up big numbers. With several injury-prone players like Victorino and Werth managing to stay on the field last season, we have to try and figure out whether they were lucky, or if something actually changed. Raul Ibaņez remains the type of consistent hitter who doesn't excite you when you call his name on draft day, but who puts up the kind of numbers that often help you win.

2B Chase Utley: Red light Given the way his spring is going, the hip surgery adjustment is looking a little heavy-handed. I'll stand by the rating, since we have no real idea what sort of post-surgical risks he and the other hipsters are facing. My guess is that we'll see less running, a bit more rest, and still one of the best infielders in the NL.

3B Pedro Feliz: Red light Feliz is returning from back surgery he had during the offseason. At his age, that's never a good development, and he's likely to continue to miss time here and there as the medical staff works to get him through the year.

SP Cole Hamels: Red light Hamels is coming off of a dominant season that got him a ring and a big increase in his workload. Those two end results are hardly balanced, but we're not sure just how much of a tradeoff there is. He's subject to the Verducci Effect (and early results of a new study seem to affirm the risk), and the elbow problems that he experienced, while minor, just add to the red rating.

SP Brett Myers: Red light Much of this rating is from the loss of control and the minor league stint both being read by the system as symptoms of an elbow problem. His second half effectively denied that possibility, while the effect of the innings increase was reduced due to his role change. I'm not a big fan of this red, but there are so many smaller risk factors that it's hard to argue against it.

SP Chan Ho Park: Red light Park's injury history is well known, and he's had some trouble with his hamstrings already this spring. Last time he worked as a starter was 2007; he was not effective in the role...and he was in Triple-A. They have a nice backup in J.A. Happ, who is a yellow based on workload concerns.

C Carlos Ruiz: Yellow light Ruiz always gets nicked up in less than full-time play. The expectation that he might be more healthy while taking on a larger role is kind of silly. The odd thing here is that he's not better than Chris Coste in any phase of the game aside from throwing.

LF Raul Ibaņez: Yellow light The Paul O'Neill comp that PECOTA pulled makes sense. He's a nice secondary player who seems to have figured out later than most how to make the most of what he can do. He adjusted after hamstring problems a few years back, which actually mitigates some of the risk the system attaches to him. He is 37, and no matter the career arc, you have to at least take notice.

CF Shane Victorino: Yellow light Victorino was healthy in '08, and the team won the Series. Coincidence? Hardly. While he's not the most talented or well-known member of this team, he may be the toughest player to assess.

RF Jayson Werth: Yellow light Werth's long, varied injury history, highlighted by his struggle to return from wrist surgery, makes him appear to be one of those high-effort players who has to hustle past his physical limitations. The problem is, he's nothing like that. He's an athletic guy with athletic genes who plays a toolsy game. The small injuries will probably hold him back from becoming a star, but not from repeating his 2008 level for a few more years.

SP Jamie Moyer: Yellow light He breaks PECOTA, but the THR system thinks that he is what he is: a durable pitcher who hasn't exhibited any signs of a slowdown. While there is risk in the age, there's actually less risk for a huge outlier like Moyer who's so deep into the survivor effect that Jeff Probst should grab him.

1B Ryan Howard Green light

SS Jimmy Rollins: Green light Rollins is two points shy of crossing into yellow territory, a reflection of the nature of his game, and of the minor hand and leg injuries he's dealt with over the past couple of years.

PH Geoff Jenkins Green light

SP Joe Blanton Green light

CL Brad Lidge: Green light This green generated a large number of e-mails, and I don't understand why Lidge has such a reputation for being an injury risk.

RP Chad Durbin Green light

Related Content:  The Who,  Year Of The Injury

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