While the Yankees go about their business of building the best bullpen in baseball, and the Royals pluck one of our remaining free agent pitching options out from under our noses, lets turn to a topic that is always near but never dear to a Mets fan’s heart; injuries, or in Mets-speak, “Prevention & Recovery”.
Those words were being championed during spring training a year ago by a Mets organization that endured a historic season full of injuries and days lost to the disabled list in 2009. There was going to be a renewed focus on prevention through more drills and better conditioning, and recovery was not going to be the nightmare it was the year before due to better procedures that were adopted. So how did that work out for us?
Not that good, as this graphic from ReadTheApple.com will remind you. The team’s highest compensated players all missed significant chunks of the season and two of them, Jason Bay and Johan Santana, would never return.
All teams have injuries, one might say, but not at these unprecedented levels. Fan Graphs charted dollars lost to the disabled list for every Major League team and not surprisingly, the Mets topped the charts in 2010 just as they did in 2009. This time the damage was not as bad as two years ago, but still substantial at $24.7 million dollars lost or better yet, 18.4% of their total payroll in 2010.
You would think that regime-change would put a stop to this disturbing trend, but I’m not so sure, and in fact I believe we are more at risk going into this season, than we were a year ago.
I decided to analyze our current 40-man roster and recent transactions, and I looked at every single player. I created an injury risk scale from 1-5, with 1 being the highest risk for injury and 5 being the lowest. Some of the criteria I used for determining each players level of risk is as follows.
Level 1: High Risk – These are players that ended the season on the disabled list with a major injury, pitchers who have had recent surgery on their elbow or shoulder, players who have found it hard to stay healthy in the last two years especially those with leg injuries whose game is based on speed.
Level 2: Medium to High Risk – These include players that have had recent minor surgeries, missed significant time last season, or have had injury plagued careers. For example I included Angel Pagan in this group because at age 30 he is coming off his first season that didn’t require a trip to the DL. (Although he did have a close call.)
Level 3: Medium Risk – This includes players who may not have suffered a significant injury last season, but are at risk due to other circumstances. For example the Verducci Effect, young pitchers who had an extremely high innings load as compared to the prior season. This would also include players who used performance enhancers in the past year. Players who suddenly stop using performance enhancers are usually at higher risk for injury than an otherwise clean player under the same circumstances.
I then took the players that fell into the the three highest risk categories, and included them in this chart I created.
When I saw the results of my analysis charted out like this, I couldn’t help thinking how precarious this season is already starting to look. Due to budget constraints, the Mets were forced to take chances with players who are at a high risk for injury, and more of these type players could still be on the way.
I caution all of you to not only keep your fingers crossed this season, but maybe your toes as well.
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Site News – I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to recover from some health issues I suffered during the holidays. I’m getting better, but won’t be back to my usual pace of posting for another week or two. In the meantime I want to thank all the other writers who have stepped up to help. I particularly want to recognize Kelly Horn, Joe Spector, Ed Leyro, John Delcos, Doug Branch, Greg Pomes and Jim Mancari for their always solid efforts. The same goes for the Mets blogosphere’s best known group of aliases and nicknames; Tie Dyed, The Coop, Annie Savoy, Hojo’s Mojo, Jessep (Congrats on your new baby daughter!) and XtreemIcon. I also want to welcome Clayton Collier, Craig Lerner and Brandon Butler to MMO. They’ve already been at it for a few weeks and you can already see what great additions they are going to be for us this season. Thanks to all of you!