Team Health Reports

The Summary: It’d be easy to blame Dusty Baker for the pitching injuries… so I will. Dusty didn’t learn from the damage he did in Chicago, continuing to press Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto. They broke down, with Volquez out for the year, while Aaron Harang, a “big workhorse,” seemed to struggle after last year’s Dusty-induced issues. Look, Dusty isn’t to blame for everything, and his friends often pop up to defend him, especially after my quotes in this recent article. The rest of the problem appears to be a curse on the shortstop position, a series of injuries in the outfield, and just a general breakdown in the second half of everything that could go wrong going wrong. It’s amazing how the Cincy medical staff was pretty highly rated before Baker came to town. Now it’s consistently at the bottom. They did bring in Paul Lessard from the Red Sox to replace the exiting Mark Mann, so we’ll have to see if that’s a sign they’re taking this seriously.

The Facts
Days Lost:
Dollars Lost: $8,953,353.26
Injury Cost: $19,253,250.00

The Cost: 
Cincinnati lost almost $9 million dollars last year due to injury and has lost $32.1 million total over the last three years. Compared to the rest of the league, the Reds were almost $5 million under the league average for dollars lost. Cincinnati went into the offseason reportedly with very little to spend. It took a restructuring of Scott Rolen‘s contract for them to even be able to afford the $4 million they gave to Orlando Cabrera and Jonny Gomes. So even with the savings, it is unlikely Cincinnati would have been spenders in the market. Despite not spending big in free agency, Cincinnati still made the biggest splash of the offseason by bringing in Cuban flamethrower Aroldis Chapman for $30.2 million, so maybe that $5 million did go to good use.

The Big Risk: Homer Bailey is the Reds’ big risk, despite not having a history of injuries (other than a bothersome groin). A number of things go into this ranking, including his age, increase in workload, and his mechanics. Bailey was recently named in Tom Verducci’s “10 for ’10: Young aces most at risk of Verducci Effect.” The 23-year old finished 40th in baseball in Pitcher Abuse Points with 27780 in only 20 major-league starts. Bailey’s innings jumped from 147 2/3 innings pitched in 2008 to 203 innings in 2009. He was one of the game’s top pitchers in his final nine starts of 2009, and the Reds leaned on him heavily during those starts. The La Grange, Texas native averaged 112 pitches per start during that time, furthering the thought that Baker likes to ride his top horses.

The Comeback: For the Reds to go anywhere in 2010, they will need a strong comeback from Jay Bruce. Bruce finished the season with a .223/.303/.470 line during his sophomore season, but a BABIP of .222 brought his numbers down severely. Bruce finished 2009 with a much better .266 EqA and a WARP1 of 1.8. The Reds will be looking for a number of things from Bruce in 2010. Bruce’s fractured wrist could very well be a fluke type of injury; after Bruce came back from the DL in September, fans got a glimpse of the Jay Bruce they had been hoping for. In 19 games after coming back, Bruce posted a .326/.426/.652 slash line. The Reds will be looking for more of the same in 2010.

The TrendWould it surprise you if I said it was negative? As easy as it would be to blame this on Dusty Baker, it’s not his fault completely. The team has taken on a lot of risk over the past couple years, but it’s actually taken on even more this year. Scott Rolen came in and missed time after a concussion, but like Chipper Jones, he’s bound to miss time and there’s no clear backup. 

The Ratings

Red lightC Ramon Hernandez: Hernandez is an older catcher at 33 and his knees have become even older, as he spent significant time last year on the DL last year after knee surgery. Hernandez does, however, move into the low red because of his playing time split with backup Ryan Hannigan. 
Red light2B Brandon Phillips: Phillips has always been one who plays well through injury, but he seems to always pick up nagging chronic injuries. Last year, Phillips played through a slight fracture in his finger, and in 2008, Phillips’ season ended prematurely due to a fractured hand.
Red light3B Scott Rolen: It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago when Rolen was one of the game’s best third basemen. He can still pick it with the rest of them, but chronic problems with back and shoulder injuries have put Rolen into the red. With no clear backup, this could a problem for Cincinnati when Rolen inevitably hits the trainer’s table. 
Red lightRF Jay Bruce: See the Comeback.
Red lightSP Homer Bailey: See the Big Risk.
Red lightSP Johnny Cueto: Could this be a case of Volquez Part II or maybe Zambrano Part II? Cueto showed definite signs of wearing down toward the end of the season. It doesn’t help that Dusty is watching over him.
Yellow light1B Joey Votto: Votto’s inclusion with the yellow lights is completely based on the time he missed last year, which wasn’t a physical issue. He’s much less risky than this rating. 
Yellow lightLF Chris Dickerson: Dickerson is only yellow if he gets full playing time, and with the signing of Gomes, that isn’t likely.
Yellow lightCF Drew Stubbs: Stubbs has had trouble staying healthy in the minors. The position adjustment also hurts him.
Yellow lightSP Bronson Arroyo: Arroyo has pitched 200 or more innings the last five years, and the workload looks to be catching up with him. He’s an innings eater at best.
Yellow lightSP Aaron Harang: Harang just hasn’t been the same since that fateful day in San Diego in 2008. Is this another case of Dusty striking again?
Yellow lightSP Matt Maloney: Maloney is in the yellow only if he stays in the rotation, which is unlikely with Chapman and many others gunning for his job.
Yellow lightCL Fransisco Cordero: Cordero is fine when healthy, but the team adjustment throws him a bit more than it should.
Green lightSS Orlando Cabrera
Green lightRP Nick Masset