Team Health Reports 

The Summary: Brandon Webb's injury might be the big blow to Arizona's injury numbers and rotation, but Ken Crenshaw's training staff really can't be blamed for this. Instead, it could be that sinkerballers and shoulders might not hold up well. Seen Chien-Ming Wang or Fausto Carmona lately? The bigger concern is the minor wear down-type injuries and the way the front office assesses risk. Eric Byrnes is much more the correct symbol, an opportunity cost that stacks up days and dollars lost when it was actually a known risk. The D'backs have done this for years, across administrations, with no apparent pattern. The one interesting injury player for this year isn't Webb, but Conor Jackson, who's coming back from a fungal infection. Its a long, tough comeback, but a young, strong athlete usually makes a full recovery. Jackson could have a slow start as he gets back, but a good comp is Justin Morneau, who came back from a debilitating intestinal condition as a rookie.

The Facts
Days Lost:
Dollars Lost: $16,448,453.80
Injury Cost: $28,720,000.00

The Cost: Arizona has steadily seen its dollars lost due to injury increase over the last few years, all the way to $16.4 million in 2009. That total is nearly half of what they have lost over the last three years ($36.6 million). Webb's count against the 2009 total was $6.3 million, while Byrnes and Jackson added $4.2 million and $2.4 million, respectively. The Diamondbacks were $2 million over the league average for dollars lost, but that didn't stop them from spending to upgrade for 2010. Arizona dished out just over $8 million to bring in Adam LaRoche and Kelly Johnson, and they also ate a great deal of money to have someone else take care of Byrnes. The Diamondbacks chose to avoid the free-agent pitchers, which could prove to be a bad decision when you take a look down at the pitchers' ratings.

The Big Risk: Ian Kennedy has been something of a litmus test throughout his career. Some scouts like his makeup and results, but others hate his delivery and his fastball. After losing most of 2009 to an aneurysm in his shoulder, Kennedy has got to fight through more than just scout's questions. Pitchers have come back from this—most notably David Cone—without a significant loss to their stuff, but if we agree with the idea that Kennedy's stuff is borderline to begin with, does the percentage lost mean less, or was he on the razor's edge with nothing left to lose? Kennedy adds to the back end of what could be a great rotation full of "ifs." If Webb comes back. If Edwin Jackson is the '09 version. If Dan Haren remains among the best in the NL. And if Kennedy stays healthy enough to answer the questions.

The Comeback: "Valley Fever." It sounds more like a bad '80s horror flick than a serious condition, but Conor Jackson learned how serious it is last year. The fungal condition indigenous to the Phoenix area can be deadly to some, but Jackson is strong and healthy enough to not have that be a concern. Once a body fights it off, it tends to return to normal, so Jackson has a good outlook medically. Whether that translates well to baseball remains to be seen. The best comps are actually guys that have come back from cancer, facing the wasting and fatigue that come with that kind of treatment, or the worst mono cases. This is going to be very clear—Jackson's coming all the way back or not, and all indications so far this spring are that he's back.

The Trend: Even with a couple devastating injuries to Webb and Jackson, you might want to overlook the results for the D'backs staff in '09. Don't. Crenshaw—a former Dick Martin Award winner in Tampa Bay—had solid, mid-pack numbers despite those two killers. With a little luck, the D'backs are not only in the hunt for an award, they're probably back at the top of the division standings. Of course, to do that, they'll need to bring back an ace from labrum surgery, keep some young pitchers healthy, and make sure that Justin Upton avoids B.J.'s health concerns. It's no small task, but this is a medical staff that's up to that task. Remember, when ASMI does its Injuries in Baseball course every year, it's usually Crenshaw demonstrating the latest and greatest in rehabs. He'll need that for Webb and more.

The Ratings

Red light SP Brandon Webb: Coming back from labrum surgery isn't the sure thing it once was. Of course, that was surely bad. Now, at least there's a fighting chance, and Webb has had a year to focus, adjust, and hopefully learn. I don't have any idea if he can come back, but of the successful labrum returns, most needed more than just a year to come all the way back. Early camp reports have not been positive.
Red light LF Conor Jackson: See The Comeback.
Red light SP Ian Kennedy: See The Big Risk.
Yellow light 2B Kelly Johnson: Johnson's early-season slump, late-season loss of playing time, and history of injuries makes the system rate him a bit higher than I think is appropriate, but the system's often smarter than me. It's certainly not Skynet, but I like having to step back and question my own assumptions. Make sure you give it a ponder before picking Johnson.
Yellow light RF Justin Upton: I always find it fascinating when brothers play baseball. I'm convinced there is a huge genetic component to baseball—that's right, Dad, I'm blaming you—and the sheer number of brother pairs across the game allow easy comparison. Sometimes they're very different, but sometimes not. Justin Upton's top PECOTA comp in 2009 was B.J. Upton. No surprise there, but does the elder Upton's injury history mean as much as Stephen Drew's brothers' does?
Yellow light SP Dan Haren: He's been above 200 innings since '04, but the second-half fades are problematic. My system just doesn't like those, and they usually herald some underlying issue. With Haren, he's proven time and again that it's not.
Yellow light SP Edwin Jackson: The Rays weren't happy when the Tigers flipped Jackson for Max Scherzer, since they'd only gotten Matt Joyce for him a year earlier. We'll see if the Tigers are happy or if he finds some level of consistency, making the D'backs happy. He is over the nexus now and has a nice progression of innings, so he's got that going for him.
Yellow light SP Billy Buckner: Buckner put up nearly 200 innings last year if you include what he did at Reno. PIPP doesn't, since the innings translation from the minors is still fuzzy. He's probably not this risky, and the injuries last season actually helped give the D'backs some look at their depth.
Yellow light CL Chad Qualls: A dislocated kneecap is painful, but it's fixable. Qualls has looked solid earily this spring and appears to be on the right path. The downside here is that there's some short- and medium-term recurrence risk. If you're comfortable with that, he could be a steal.
Yellow light RP Clay Zavada: He's more than a great 'stache. He's a solid reliever with a reverse split, but the second-half fade is something he's going to have to show was an adjustment, not a problem.
Green light C Miguel Montero
Green light 1B Adam LaRoche
Green light 3B Mark Reynolds: He has 556 strikeouts, zero significant injuries. I can tell you which stat I care more about when considering signing Reynolds long-term.
Green light SS Stephen Drew: Drew might not be a superstar, but he's healthy. That gives him the chance to improve or, at worst, put up solid numbers as he heads into what should be his best years.
Green light CF Chris Young: For those fans of specificity, Young worked with a track coach this offseason. I have no idea what that means for his health, but it's notable.   


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Will, since no one has posted anything, I'll just say this: you are the #1 reason I resubscribe to BP every yr. I've read both yr books, learning a lot from them. You are indeed "the industry standard"--keep printing these reports! Josh Turin (Dallas)
Thank you.
Will, there's been a lot of talk recently about Haren's 2nd half ERA's being flukey (a couple articles and a thread on Scoresheet talk). Essentially his K-rates & FIP seem to call for similar results to his first halves. Can your system read this "trend" of flukiness in Haren, or is it just reading the ERA spike?
Mine's based on ability to go normal depth into game and normal velocity. I don't use FIP ever, but no analytics are in PIPP.
If the question is genetics vs. environment, brothers don't tell you much of anything since they have both similar genetics and similar environments.
That's not my question -- it's why do we have Tony and Chris Gwynn or Jose and Ozzie Canseco taking such disparate paths? (The Canseco's are twins, to boot!) Why, with the Cansecos or the Giambis, where both are known to have used PEDs did one succeed and the other did not? More importantly, are any injuries caused by a genetic predisposition?
Have you thought about parent-child studies as well? Although the medical environment is different, how much does a parent's injury history predict a child's.

Going even farther afield, how about if the family members play a different sport (soccer vs baseball for instance). What would we expect from a Mia-Nomar child?
Don't have much beyond anecdote for parent-child. The lack of data is an issue. Pretty good apparent correlation, but no idea if that would hold up.
Will, here perhaps I can provide a tiny perspective. I recommend (to everyone) "The Selfish Gene," by Richard Dawkins. There is an enormous "lag time" between the instructions encoded in our genes and the operations which we (their "survival machines") carry out in order to perpetuate them "through eternity" by reproducing.

I'll jump from this point to state: there is an ENORMOUS conformity between the Giabmi's & Canseco's (or the Conigliaro's, etc.). "Both" brothers made it to MLB! That puts them BOTH so far out beyond the 3rd SD (even if the "population" chosen is "all professional baseball players" (rather than: "all males in cultures where baseball is popular"--which is the more appropriate population, if you are seriously looking for genetic impact on sports success. Rather than being "suprised" that one Canseco is so much superior to the other, you should be amazed that they are both so successful! The scale of your comparison is erroneous, IMO.

ALSO, the difference you note between the Giambi's viz PED-use is probably also missplaced. It could well be that the physical problems Jason Giambi has experienced; his "missed year," the quick deterioration of his fielding mobility is a CONSISTENT genetic expression of the adverse impact of his PED use, whereas Jeremy Giambi's was simply more pronounced, but of the same phenotype.