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Monday, March 07, 2011


After enduring a season of injuries that culminated in the lack of October Red Sox baseball, it is time to take a closer look the impact player health will have on the 2011 season. Will Carroll has been publishing his Team Health Reports for a number of years now that assess the risk a player will have an injury. And it is our good fortune that Sports Illustrated has them online for free.

The Red Sox report did not have many surprises nor did the Olde Towne Team’s chief rival, the MFY. The Sox have a number of high profile players with moderate (a yellow light or 30 to 50 percent chance of injury) to high risk (a red light or a better than 50 percent shot of getting hurt). In contrast, the MFY have fewer players that should be of concern.

The entire Sox infield is coming off injury plagued campaigns and are all rated as yellow lights. On a positive note, Jed Lowrie can fill in at any spot, but isn’t a model of health himself. Yamaico Navarro, who made an appearance last year, would be next in line unless the future gold glover, Jose Iglesias, makes tremendous progress with the wood. The Sox infield has some health risk, but the versatility of some starters and the backup make it unlikely that Navarro or Iglesias see significant playing time.

Even though Jacoby Ellsbury, J.D. Drew are red lights and Mike Cameron, at best, is a yellow, the Sox outfield should be productive throughout the season. Ellsbury had a freakish injury that is unlikely to happen again this season. The center fielder’s “toughness” has been questioned like Drew’s but Cameron and Darnell McDonald can fill in adequately for either over a DL stint. Carl Crawford rounds out the outfield and is a green light. (I still can’t believe he is a Red Sox player, btw.)

Jon Lester is also a go-go green. Clay Buchholz and John Lackey are yellows. Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka are stop lights. Tim Wakefield will get the call if one of the five starters can’t take a turn, but like his infield counterpart has had his injury issues too. Felix Doubront, who was shut down due to elbow tightness, has been erased from the seventh spot. The uber Spring Training hyped Andrew Miller should be next in line. If Doubront or Miller are making regular turns in the rotation, then the Sox will be competing with the MFY for another starter in July.

Unlike the Red Sox, the MFY top position players are low health risks. Brett Gardner is a “low yellow” or near green light. The relative lack of quality backups should not hamper the Bronx Bombers. (Catchers and designated hitters are excluded as they are usually on the opposite ends of the health spectrum - catchers - red and DHs - green. Relievers are also not discussed here since they are all “…like a box a chocolates.”)

As for the guys that start the game, C.C. Sabathia is a horse that gets a green but beyond him each is a red light. The other starters not only need to pitch better than many are projecting but also stay healthy.

Bet on the Yankees being in on every possible starter (Chris Carpenter, Francisco Liriano, etc.) from now until August 31, 2011 as well as a power struggle between Brian Cashman and the brothers Stein. This is not your father’s Yankees.


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