Like most teams, Yanks have a number of injury risks


Throughout the spring, Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus has run through his team health reports. Today he hits the Yankees (sub. required). There aren’t many surprises in the article, as I suppose is the case for fans of each team. We’re intimately familiar with the team, and that includes each player’s injury history. The reports seem better resources for teams of which you’re not a fan. But, in any case, we’ll have a look at what Carroll says about the Yankees.

Carroll notes that the Yankees have lost a lot of money to injured players over the past few years, but that’s to be expected. They spend more on players, so when those players get hurt they will lose more to their DL stints. Last year they were again among the league leaders in dollars lost to DL time, mainly because Alex Rodriguez missed a month, but also because Xavier Nady and Chien-Ming Wang missed almost the entire season. What would interest me is a breakdown of time lost to the DL as a percentage of overall payroll. That might make the Yankees look a bit better.

Even with the total dollars lost, the Yankees have done a good job keeping their best players on the field. A-Rod, minus some fatigue in June, remained healthy following his surgery. Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, two of the team’s elder statesmen, avoided injury in 2009. Jorge Posada spent a couple weeks on the DL, though not related to his surgically repaired shoulder. That held up just fine. Also, other than Marte in the bullpen and Wang in the rotation, the pitching staff held up remarkably well. So, again, it appears that the Yankees lost more money to the DL than most teams last season because they just spent more on players.

Surprisingly, Carroll lists Joba Chamberlain as the Yankees’ big risk. Not Nick Johnson, not Posada, not even A.J Burnett. His explanation is that the Yankees devised the Joba Rules because they thought he wouldn’t have stayed healthy otherwise. I suppose, though, that the same could be said for any 23-year-old pitcher who maxed out at just over 100 innings previously in his career. That doesn’t take away from Joba’s risk this season, though.

In terms of the red-yellow-green rankings, there aren’t many head scratchers. Mariano Rivera in the red is strange, but Carroll explains the rating and further says that it likely won’t much matter. Nick Swisher rates a yellow even though he hasn’t hit the DL since 2005. He hasn’t missed more than two days with an injury, at least according to Baseball Injury Tool since 2007. Still, the strangest ranking is Phil Hughes as a red. It’s not that Hughes doesn’t present an injury risk — he did, after all, miss significant time in both 2007 and 2008. However, Carroll’s reasoning seemingly falls victim to the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy:

Hughes is in much the same boat as Chamberlain, but the difference is that Hughes has broken down under a starter’s workload even when not terribly taxed. As a reliever, he really seemed to find himself. For all the talk about Chamberlain being pushed to the pen, I have no idea why anyone would take Hughes out. As a starter, he’s very red. As a pure reliever, he’d be a very low yellow.

No, he didn’t break down as a reliever last year. Yes, he got hurt as a starter previously in his career. That doesn’t create causation, though. Young pitchers get hurt. It happens. Hughes also came up to the majors as a 20-year-old and might not have been physically ready for that type of workload. I can understand why he’s a risk, but again, I don’t think the reasoning is particularly sound.

Overall, the outlook for the Yankees in 2010 appears fair. The older players present injury risk, but other than Posada it doesn’t appear they’re more risky than any other group of veterans. Also, as Carroll notes, the Yanks do have some options if they lose certain players to the DL. Anything can happen with injuries, as we’ve seen over the past few years, but right now, on March 23, the Yankees are doing well. We have at least that to be thankful for.

Categories : Injuries


  1. Drew says:

    It is scary, we were able to stay so healthy in 2009, sans Wanger. It really makes me wonder what 2010 has in store for us on the health front.

    Luckily, if any team can overcome injury-related adversity, it’s the Yankees.

    • pete says:

      sans wanger, a-rod, nady

      • Dirty Pena says:

        Marte, Damon, Posada, Molina

        • Dirty Pena says:

          Oh whoops, I misremembered that play where the ball sat on the wall as last year, not 2008. My b Johnny.

        • Drew says:

          Exactly how many games did you want Damon to play in?

          You guys are kind of nitpicking, we were a healthy team last year. Infield, starting outfield, starting pitchers, DH, all very healthy compared to most years/teams.

          • Dirty Pena says:

            Sorry, sorry. Like I said, I had the wrong year in mind for Damon.

          • pete says:

            i’d say we were on the healthy side of the spectrum, but it wasn’t as abnormally so as you make it seem. teams don’t typically lose more than one or two major contributors for major chunks of the year, they just get several minor injuries and/or lose a few smaller-role players as well. It’s not normal for a team to lose it’s best hitter or best pitcher for a whole year. It happens, but it’s pretty far from the norm.

            • Drew says:

              Eh, we lost a 3rd baseman for a month, a catcher for 20 games, and Nady for the year. Melky went down for 5 or so days after running into the wall. Swish, Johnny, Jetes, Robby, Teix, Matsui(not including knee drainage) and Melky were all healthy. Then Jorge and Al both were healthy for about 6 of 7 months, including post season. That stands out to me as pretty healthy. As for the starters, everyone other than Wang was healthy and productive. The pen did have a few issues, as expected every year.

        • Dirty Pena says:

          Let’s not get crazy throwing Ransom in there. That was a good thing.

          • Ransom’s injury lead to more PT for Angel Berroa. I wouldn’t call that “a good thing:

            • Dirty Pena says:

              Based on Girardi’s love affair with Ransom, I’m willing to take 2 weeks of Berroa getting ABs over Ransom being on the roster all year.

              • I constantly hear/read people talking about “Girardi’s love affair with (insert player who I hate here)”.

                I don’t see it. You know what Girardi loves? He loves to give all the players on his roster a chance to either contribute or prove that their worthless and get DFA’d. He played Ransom because Ransom was what he had, and he was either going to help the team or he was going to play his way out of a job and clear a spot for someone else.

                That’s not “falling in love”, that’s managing.

                • You know who used to fall in love with players?

                  Torre, that’s who. As we’ve discussed ad infinitum, he permanently burned out almost half-a-dozen bullpen arms. He was the cause of the “Joba Rules”; Cashman knew he couldn’t be trusted not to trash Joba’s arm. (aside: if Torre realized what Cash was doing, how humiliated he would have been!)

                  He also kept inserting utility players that couldn’t hit, and veterans past their sell-by date, over younger (“unproven” in his mind), more productive players.

                  I think people who accuse Girardi of this just aren’t used to a manager who, as TSJC said, uses his whole roster enough to keep everyone in shape, but not overused.

                  Meet the New Boss. Different from the Old Boss.

                • I think people who accuse Girardi of this just aren’t used to a manager who, as TSJC said, uses his whole roster enough to keep everyone in shape, but not overused.


                  I’ve held positions in management, overseeing a staff as big as 200. All our supervisors were instructed to do the same thing:

                  “Manage them up or manage them out”.

                  Give EVERYONE opportunities to either succeed or fail. It allows you to promote and grow the talented people who do well, and fire/demote/marginalize the untalented/disinterested ones who fail.

                • Yup.

                  Along with “hire great people, then get out of their way”.

                • Dirty Pena says:

                  I don’t normally say this about Girardi, but honestly Pena had proven himself a worthy backup by the time Ransom was healthy, Ransom had sucked ass in April, and yet we sent down Pena when we should’ve just kept Ransom down.

                • Dirty Pena says:

                  It’s a pretty tiny issue so I’m not really going to sit here and bash Girardi about it. Cody Ransom sucks. That is all.

                • I have to admit there was wailing and gnashing of teeth in my apartment over Girardi’s continued use of Ransom when Peña was clearly better…

                  I guess having an awesome bus-accident-survivor story >>> actually hitting.

      • Drew says:

        Well A-Rod missed a month rehabbing and was, under the circumstances, healthy for more than the majority of 2009.

        I did kind of discount Nady, forgetting he won the job out of ST.

        • pete says:

          Nady would have been an ideal bench player last year, though, and that month of A-Rod meant about 1.5 fewer wins for the club, not even including whatever effect he may have had on Tex. Also, while he walked a ton and managed to keep his OBP solid, he was not quite up to his normal level as a hitter till july, and not as a fielder pretty much all season.

  2. JGS says:

    What would interest me is a breakdown of time lost to the DL as a percentage of overall payroll. That might make the Yankees look a bit better.

    Beyond the Boxscore did this about a month ago–here is the spreadsheet of every team going back to 2002 with salary lost, total salary, percentage of total salary lost, total DL trips, and days on the DL

  3. KyleLitke says:

    Why would anyone even begin to think he broke down under a starters workload? His first season he got hurt in his second major league start of the year. And then he got hurt after not even having thrown that many innings the year before and not having thrown a lot that year. I don’t even understand where someone would begin to make the connection that he can’t hold up a starters workload.

  4. Zack says:

    Dont know how they can’t put NJ (history) or Posada (age + position) as the greatest risk on the team.

  5. Bo says:

    You have to put NJ or Posada as the biggest risks.

    A set up man like Joba isnt. Either is a 5th starter in Hughes.

  6. FWIW, I have Joba as an injury risk in 2010 as well.

    /not divulging proprietary secrets
    //also not drafting joba in any fantasy leagues
    /// :(

    • Dirty Pena says:

      I have some fantasy advice for those in the RAB leagues as well:

      Ryan Braun: .240, 9 HR, 38 RBI
      Tim Lincecum: 5-17, 6.45 ERA, 1.78 WHIP
      Boof Bonser (per PeteAbe): 20-3, 0.98 ERA, 0.45 WHIP

      • JGS says:

        Boof Bonser: Long reliever candidate had a big setback Monday when he was tattooed by the Rays and then reported pain in his right groin. He is out of options but the Sox could stash him on the DL.

        -PeteAbe, like three hours ago

        • bexarama says:

          “The move for Boof was no goof” -PeteAbe, after like one decent ST start for him

          • Dirty Pena says:

            Yeah I was referring to shit like that. Dude has a serious crush on Boof Bonser. I guess cause they both have the goatee sloping down the double chin thing going on.

    • Accent Shallow says:

      What, are you his doctor? Or employed by the Yankees?

  7. Accent Shallow says:

    So I can continue to ignore Will Carroll and not miss anything? Good.

Leave a Reply

You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

If this is your first time commenting on River Ave. Blues, please review the RAB Commenter Guidelines. Login for commenting features. Register for RAB.