Are the Yankees abusing the disabled list?

An instance where the Yankees should imitate the Mets
Extra ticket for tonight's game

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?

An instance where the Yankees should imitate the Mets
Extra ticket for tonight's game
  • Drew

    I think that this is a fault in the Player’s Union and MLB. If someone is unable to perform for whatever reason, why not be able to send a player to your training facility? We shouldn’t have to “fudge” on whether or not a player is actually injured thus placing him on the DL. It would be great if there was a special label you could place on someone that would enable them to leave the team and go back to extended ST. Perhaps the player didn’t get enough work in ST because of an early Spring injury. Even in a case like that, a team would be forced to DL the guy so he didn’t have to work it out in the MLB, eveb though he’s not technically hurt. Something should be done about this so that teams don’t have to circumvent the rules.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      I read Rosenthal’s piece yesterday and had the same reaction as Drew and Joe. Joe writes, “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?”

      That’s exactly — exactly — what I thought. What’s the point DL otherwise?

    • Chris C.

      Nevermind this……..here’s some real news…….

      MANY RAMIREZ JUST TESTED POSITIVE FOR ROIDS!!!!!!
      50 game suspension!!!

      I F#$%&^& KNEW IT!!!

      Wonder how the Mitchell report overlooked him? Gee, I wonder!

  • Chris C.

    “Chien-Ming Wang is not in the physical shape to pitch in the majors. Isn’t that what the disabled list is for?”

    No it isn’t. The DL is for players with injuries. Otherwise, anyone who’s out of shape can be placed on the DL, because they’re “not in physical shape to perform”.
    Wang can perform………he’s been performing in the minors.

    Placing a guy in the DL because he stinks is shady.

    • UWS

      But what if he stinks because he’s injured? That’s the point of Joe’s post, I think.

      • Chris C.

        Well, what’s the injury? The guy is pitching right now, so he’s obviously not THAT injured.
        People that are listed as day-to-day are more injured than Wang is!

    • Chris

      When has be been performing in the minors?

      Also, shouldn’t rehab time be included in the DL stint? That’s really all this is with Wang. It’s not like he never had an injury and just came to camp out of shape.

    • MattG

      Where is that written? I assume there are rules for the disabled list, but, starting with the obvious, it is not called the ‘injured list.’ I am betting that the rules allow alternative interpretations for being disabled.

  • steve (different one)

    i didn’t RTFA, was Matsuzaka’s “tired arm” cited as such an abuse?

    please, the Sox once kept Adam Stern on the DL for half a year to avoid returning him to Atlanta as a rule V pick.

    it’s part of the game.

    • Nady Nation

      Yup. SGNJ’s source cited Wang, Dontrelle, and Dice-K.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      RTFA and RTFM are two of my favorite acronyms.

      • jsbrendog

        care to share? no clue what they stand for. i got sgnj, no juice having bastid

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

          Read the fucking article
          Read the fucking manual

          • jsbrendog

            oh, awesome

            thx

  • Chris

    If you’re going to point to an example of potentially abusing the DL, wouldn’t Dontrelle Willis be a better example of Wang? He very well may have a legitimate reason for being on the DL, but nebulous mental issues are much easier to fudge than physical problems.

    Also, if the Yankees had just put him on the DL at the start of the season and continued his rehab in Florida, then there wouldn’t be much debate – it’s just a continuation from last year.

  • Tripp

    If Wang shouldn’t be on the DL then Matsuzaka shouldn’t either with a “tired arm.” Could there be a more obscure injury than that?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      Rosenthal’s sources say that as well. Not everything is a Red Sox vs. Yankees issue.

      • Tripp

        True. I didn’t read the article just scanned the post. Red Sox are just fresh in my mind.

  • MattG

    Whether this is against the rules or not, the disabled list shouldn’t be governed by such rules. A team should be free to disable whomever they want, whenever they want. They are still being paid.

    • Drew

      I disagree with that. I’d imagine that the exact situation you just posed is the reason the union and MLB have such “rules.” If a team is able to DL someone whenever they want there would be all types of issues. Looking back on earlier this year, Detroit would’ve just DL’d sheff to make room for a young guy. That is exactly why there are rules.

      • MattG

        Either way, they pay him. It would give the teams a little leverage.

        I don’t see any reason for MLB to step in here. This favors the teams, and therefore it favors the owners. The only way Selig would interfere is if the player’s union objected, but that would reflect horribly on Wang, Matsuzaka, Willis, etc.

        And if you remove business from it, logically, why should it matter why a team disables one of it’s own? Disabling a player isn’t a practice a team can use to excel. It’s a lesser of two evils thing.

        • Drew

          Paying someone has little to do with allowing them to do their job. While we all may find it “cool” to get payed for sitting on our ass, in a career in which performance is your only leverage for receiving future pay, sitting on your tush isn’t an option.

          • MattG

            That’s not really relevant, is it? Any other industry, any other job, the employer can send you home without cause if they pay you. The issue here is the roster spot.

    • Chris C.

      “Whether this is against the rules or not, the disabled list shouldn’t be governed by such rules. A team should be free to disable whomever they want, whenever they want. They are still being paid.”

      Oh my GOD!!!! Are you kidding??
      I can’t WAIT to hear what the players union would say about that!

  • Evan

    But by placing him on the 15/60 Day DL, you are guaranteed to lose him for that many days. Even if he does down to extended ST and works everything out in a week, he still can’t return for another 8 days. I think that is the draw back of putting an “struggling” player on the DL. I see no problem with it.

  • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

    IIRC, the rules has some clause, that a doctor has to give a “reason” for the DL stint, otherwise putting aplayer there is impossible. Of course, every team has its own doctor and these guys will “find” something, which does not make it less shady or whatever you want to call it.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    This is a non-issue, folks. He belongs on the DL. Like was said before, he was sent to extended spring training to figure out whether there was physical cause to his performance. there was. he went on the DL. end of story.

    I can’t believe no one’s mentioned Carl Pavano on the DL for half a year with a sore ass yet. :)

  • NaOH

    In light of this issue, today’s post at Inside The Majors is a worthwhile read on how the DL process works.

  • http://liberalmusings.wordpress.com Pablo Zevallos

    If the Yankees do it, it’s not illegal.

    • pat

      +1

  • Rich

    Wang has a physical problem that is reducing his velocity and command. If that doesn’t make him DL worthy, then there is not point in having the DL.

    • Chris C.

      In that case, yes. But his “injury” has come into question. There are alot of people who think his “injury” is in his head, and he is just pithing like a guy who is afraid to ge re-injured. If that’s the case, then he is NOT really injured.

      That’s what the piece is about. It was very convenient to send Wang to the DL at a time when the Yankees had no plans to send him back out to the mound anyway.

      And he has NOT rested…….he’s been throwing the whole time.

      • John Stossel

        Can you say that for certain, though?

        I mean yeah, he’s been throwing the baseball and having outings… but controlled outings with breaks, spending all his time in Florida without the stress of road trips for a while and you can sure bet that he’s spending significant time in the trainer’s office, the whirlpool and the massage table, making damn sure that there really IS nothing physically wrong.

        He may be throwing, but I wouldn’t compare it to anything that he would face at the major league level.

        It’s not like he just slid down to Scranton to join the rotation there on “rehab starts” for a while.

        • jsbrendog

          plus, he did not get shelle dlike this in spring training, meaning something mroe than “hes afraid to get reinjured” is going on. something physically changed from spring training to the regular season because its like night and day just fro watching him.

        • Chris C.

          “Can you say that for certain, though?”

          No, I can’t.

          The question was, “Are the YAnkees abusing the system by placing Wang on the DL?”

          And the answer is, “If Wang is not really injured, then yes they are.”

          This is very simple, folks. Easy question, easy answer.
          The truth is probably somewhere in between.
          No need for a long, complicated thread.

          • MattG

            Seems to me the answer is even simpler–no.

  • NaOH

    Re-reading the linked Rosenthal piece, I think the presentation in the RAB article is misleading. This text, that Rosenthal

    talked to one GM who think [sic] that “certain teams are manipulating the disabled list for a competitive advantage.”

    comes across as quoting the anonymous GM when, in fact, that GM is not quoted. The quoted text is actually by Rosenthal. Then, the anonymous GM does not cite Wang as evidence of definite improper use of the DL, but points to Wang, according to Rosenthal, as one of “three examples of potential abuse.”

    The RAB piece basically says certain teams are manipulating the disabled list and Wang is one clear case of this. This is not how Rosenthal presents it. I think there’s a big difference in how Rosenthal reported this issue and how RAB did.

    The writers here are usually very accurate and even-keeled in their interpretation of others’ works, but this seems like a rare case of being off the mark.

  • JP

    Nobody wants to say this, but maybe Wang is just a lousy pitcher who had a couple of good years. His good years probably look better in terms of W-L than they really were in terms of domination. His K rate is so low, it really suggests he’s an average pitcher who has been getting lucky.

    I hope I’m wrong, but in my mind I’m not expecting anything better than a back of the rotation guy out of him.

    • Chris C.

      “Nobody wants to say this, but maybe Wang is just a lousy pitcher who had a couple of good years.”

      You don’t have two 19 win seasons by getting lucky.
      The guy has one of the best sinkers in the game. How can that even be denied, when it’s been said by opposing ballplayers?

      “His K rate is so low, it really suggests he’s an average pitcher who has been getting lucky.”

      It doesn’t suggest that at all. A low strike-out rate has also enabled him to pitch deeper into ballgames when healthy, giving him a better chance to get wins.
      Joba struck out 12 the other night…….congratulations. He tossed 100 pitches before even completing 6 innings.

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