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Playoff Health Report 

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October 7, 2009 11:56 am

Playoff Health Report: American League

4

Will Carroll

Now that the junior circuit has its representatives sorted out, which team is missing the most talent?

Now that we know the identity of the fourth team, we can jump into the AL's health. As I said yesterday, health isn't as big a factor in the postseason as it is in the 162-game marathon of the regular season. For these four teams, there are some mild concerns, but aside from the loss of Justin Morneau from the Twins' lineup, there are no other significant impacts from injury to the AL's final four. That leaves us with a quartet of talented teams ready to go, deciding it on the basis of talent, planning, and execution rather than luck and survival. While we don't have two Dick Martin Award finalists like we do in the NL, we do have teams that deserve a tip of the cap to all their respective medical staffs.

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October 6, 2009 11:25 am

Playoff Health Report: National League

7

Will Carroll

Who's hurting the most, and how will it affect them in their respective post-season series?

I preach over and over that player health is the single most important factor for winning baseball. Talent counts, but only when it's on the field. Just look at these NL playoff teams, all among the healthiest in baseball. In the playoffs however, my bleep doesn't work. Injuries are a problem, but the all-or-nothing short-series management gets around injuries or at least can greatly minimize their effect. There are the occasional major injuries-Scott Rolen's shoulder, or Vince Coleman's leg-that expose a team, but that's really the extent of it. Teams generally get to the playoffs because they were relatively healthy, and for the most part they'll stay that way through the playoffs. All that said, it's important enough to take a look at the teams' shortcomings and foibles. Can the problems they're faced with bite them? That's "Crunch Time"-I'll point out the point where the teams weaknesses will be most exposed. I'll also give you the details on the injuries and tell you how many players that would most likely have been on the playoff roster if healthy will be missing. At this time of the year, we want to see the best players in the most dramatic situations. Here's hoping we see all of that, starting tonight in Minnesota. (We'll do the AL on Wednesday, once we know who'll be the AL Central's representative.)

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October 21, 2008 11:30 am

Playoff Health Report: World Series

4

Will Carroll

The maintenance men have done their jobs well, and both teams appear ready to play.

Philadelphia Phillies

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October 9, 2008 1:10 pm

Playoff Health Report: ALCS

12

Will Carroll

The Rays are healthy just in time, while the Red Sox are dealing with a few outpatients.

Tampa Bay Rays

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October 8, 2008 1:15 pm

Playoff Health Report: NLCS

5

Will Carroll

Both teams have managed to make the postseason by handling their losses well and adapting wisely.

As we prepare to get underway with what promises to be a closely-matched NL Championship Series, we have two teams that have struggled through their share of injuries to get where they are. Credit has to go to both medical staffs for managing to keep their teams functional, even though they may both end up ranking well down on the final lists for days or dollars lost. Consider that for the Dodgers, Andruw Jones and Jason Schmidt aren't here, while the Phillies are without Tom Gordon and Scott Mathieson. For some teams, losing this much value would have been crippling, but through a combination of resources and handling, both the Dodgers and Phillies come into the Series relatively healthy. For whichever team wins the pennant, there will be a staff in the training room that helped get them there, even if no one remembers to pour champagne on them.

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October 1, 2008 1:03 pm

Playoff Health Report: ALDS and NLDS

11

Will Carroll

From Carlos Zambrano to Greg Dobbs, the wildly various ramifications of injuries and health issues, as the playoffs get underway.

Team health determines who gets to the postseason as much as talent does. We're looking at eight teams who rank among the best in the business at keeping their players healthy. There are three former Dick Martin winners here (I'm counting Ron Porterfield, who assisted Ken Crenshaw when the Rays won), and teams that have overcome injuries by their successful rehab programs. In the playoffs, injuries are magnified because the compression of talent and time weighs most heavily on any weaknesses a team may have. Most teams come into October healthy, or at the very least, with their health under control. Few have lost major contributors for the season, and in those cases they've all found adequate replacements for that talent. We may not know exactly what s**t works in the playoffs, but I know this much-a focus on health does.

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There may be no glory in winning with a $100 million payroll, as Michael Lewis said last week on BPR, but I don't think anyone in Red Sox Nation cares as much about glory as they do about beating the Yankees. The Yankees were hoping the A's would pull things out with half their rotation on the shelf, while the Sox head into the ALCS with momentum, energy, and a wrath-of-God offense that Gary Huckabay so richly evoked in his ALDS preview. Watching the brutal collision between Johnny Damon and Damian Jackson has me wondering why neither player could use the low-tech solution of calling for the ball, or why something more high-tech like headset communicators aren't being implemented (think how fast the game could move if we could eliminate mound conferences). The collision clearly knocked Damon out for perhaps as long as two minutes, much more than what Marcus Giles suffered in his run-in with Mark Prior. Damon's availability is in serious question, making Theo Epstein work hard as he readies his ALCS roster. Damon is likely to be available, but likely will miss at least the first two games in New York, giving the Sox a short bench. I'm also closely watching Jackson. I have absolutely no idea why the Sox sent him back out after clearly being concussed. Post-concussion syndrome is still a possibility for both players.

Marlins

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September 30, 2003 12:00 am

Playoff Health Report: American League

0

Will Carroll

Green and Yellow. That probably works pretty well for most A's fans, especially when, like the uniforms, they see more green than gold. It's that red light on the players' section that doesn't fit in with the official color scheme, and probably has Billy Beane hurling a chair my way. The starters have some issues, starting with their outfield. Jermaine Dye is still not 100% and may never be the player he was before he shattered his leg. Jose Guillen is playing through pain, and while he's been moderately effective in the short term, there's also nothing stopping a small change that would increase his pain or decrease his effectiveness. Chris Singleton has some back issues, Billy McMillon has some leg issues, and Eric Byrnes is still trying to figure out what happened to his bat after the All-Star break. The pitching staff is yellow on some whispers about Tim Hudson's back and the missing presence of Mark Mulder. Peter Gammons broke the story about the use of Forteo, a recombinant form of parathyroid hormone manufactured by Eli Lilly, on Mark Mulder. The use of Forteo in men is poorly tested, and in fact, an "off-label" usage of the drug. Mulder remains a possibility, but neither myself nor anyone who I spoke to regarding this would even venture a guess on Mulder's availability. The A's haven't officially given any comment on Hudson's back, but this is nothing unusual. It could be nothing, but then again, I'd rather warn you of unconfirmed talk and let you make your own decision. The rest of the team is relatively healthy, and the roster is both deep and flexible. Now, it's time to watch two of the smartest teams in baseball take each other on in what can only be called the Moneyball Series.

Red Sox

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September 29, 2003 12:00 am

Playoff Health Report: National League

0

Will Carroll

Yes, the Team Health Reports are back for the postseason, morphed a little bit to fit the format. In each of the four Division Series, we'll address the key questions and concerns each team has. We'll break down how injuries or good health will affect who might win and who might lose. While some have said that their bleep doesn't work in the playoffs, injuries are even more important. A talented team can be decimated by one flukish injury. Just last season, a well-positioned Cardinals team fell short of where their talent projected to take them when Scott Rolen injured his shoulder. Worse, the Cardinals made bad decisions based on Rolen's injury (keeping him active and playing with a short bench) that also contributed to their downfall. Just to remind everyone, we'll use the stoplight metaphor to give warnings about health. Instead of breaking it down by player, this time we'll do it by the four major positional breakdowns. Green means that there's no discernible injury risk above average. Yellow means that there are significant concerns that could lead to a foreseeable injury. Red means you'd better know what you're getting into by sending the guy out on the field. This isn't to say that your "red" player can't be effective or even injury-free, but in baseball--like most things in life--you'd better know the risks.

Yes, the Team Health Reports are back for the postseason, morphed a little bit to fit the format. In each of the four Division Series, we'll address the key questions and concerns each team has. We'll break down how injuries or good health will affect who might win and who might lose. While some have said that their bleep doesn't work in the playoffs, injuries are even more important. A talented team can be decimated by one flukish injury. Just last season, a well-positioned Cardinals team fell short of where their talent projected to take them when Scott Rolen injured his shoulder. Worse, the Cardinals made bad decisions based on Rolen's injury (keeping him active and playing with a short bench) that also contributed to their downfall.

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