Now that the junior circuit has its representatives sorted out, which team is missing the most talent?
Who’s hurting the most, and how will it affect them in their respective post-season series?
The maintenance men have done their jobs well, and both teams appear ready to play.
The Rays are healthy just in time, while the Red Sox are dealing with a few outpatients.
Both teams have managed to make the postseason by handling their losses well and adapting wisely.
From Carlos Zambrano to Greg Dobbs, the wildly various ramifications of injuries and health issues, as the playoffs get underway.
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.
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.
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.