When the Yankees placed Chien-Ming Wang on the 15-day DL with hip weakness, most fans viewed it with a skeptical eye. He had been bombed in three straight outings, capped off by one of the most embarrassing performances in recent memory. Clearly the Yankees had to do something, but absent minor league options they were quite limited. In order to continue fielding a full 25-man roster, the Yankees placed him on the disabled list, which seemed like the only possible move which could accommodate the needs of all parties.
Yes, this was done on shaky conditions, but it’s not like the Yankees are the first team to fudge a DL placement. Teams have done it throughout history to free up roster spots. Sucka Got No Juice talked to one GM who think that “certain teams are manipulating the disabled list for a competitive advantage.” He supported this statement by pointing to Wang’s case, among a few others. So are the Yankees abusing the system by placing Wang on the DL?
I think it’s pretty clear that there is something physically wrong with Chien-Ming. His velocity was down from previous years, and his mechanics were all out of whack. While that doesn’t necessarily point to a physical issue, it certainly could. That possibility should give them the right to place the player on the disabled list. The only alternative is to keep him on the 25-man roster, and if he’s on the 25-man roster he’d probably be pitching. If his ineffectiveness was in fact because of an injury, keeping him on the 25-man and having him pitch would prove of further detriment.
Adding to the case is Wang’s current rehab plan. It’s not like they disabled him just so he could get work in the minors. Rather, they sent him to extended spring training to make a start, from which they determined that his issue was physical before placing him on the DL. And now he’s staying in extended spring training, undergoing physical therapy between starts. In other words, he’s going through the regular motions of a player on the disabled list.
This obviously comes from a biased perspective. No Yanks fan wants to see the team play a man short, or be forced to trot out a totally ineffective pitcher every five days. Still, I have a hard time taking these abuse claims seriously. Chien-Ming Wang is not in the physical shape to pitch in the majors. Isn’t that what the disabled list is for?