Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Injury stacking on the Red Sox

A commenter over at Baseball Musings goes through the exercise of downplaying the Red Sox current injury situation.

I disagreed:

Wow. Just wow. Nice minimization.

“Remember, it’s not the quantity, it’s the quality of injuries, and the depth behind the injured players.”

Well, their top four catchers are hurt right now. How many teams have a quality Major League fifth catcher?

They’ve played virtually the entire season without one of their starting outfielders and about 1/2 of the season without another of their starting outfielders and their fourth outfielder. One of the consequences is that they’ve got a .231/.301/.386/.687 line from their left-fielders and a .251/.309/.383/.692 line from their center fielders. That’s far below what they projected and expected before the season began.

Wakefield’s been OK, but to say that there’s been no impact from losing a healthy Beckett is just silly. Last year, Beckett had a 1.84 ERA in 8 starts between May 19 and July 6, despite a bad start similar to this year’s. This year he’s been on the DL for that stretch, and Wakefield’s started those 8 games with a 4.70 ERA AND five more innings of work for the bullpen. Yes, Wakefield’s filled in admirably. But he’s not a healthy Josh Beckett.

Manny Delcarmen had thrown 32 1/3 innings of 2.23 ERA ball before he got hurt. He had three terrible outings on his way to the DL, but was very effective before that. If he’s out for two weeks, that probably costs them 6-7 innings, not three, and it shifts innings to less effective relievers at a time when the starting staff is still short. These things add up.

The fact is, they are playing the last nine games before the All Star Break, six of which are on the road against good division opponents, without their:
Opening day starter
Opening day left fielder and lead-off hitter
Opening day second baseman and 2nd hitter
Opening day catcher and 3rd hitter
Number two catcher
Number three starter
First middle relief pitcher
Fourth outfielder

You can play all of the semantic games you want to pretend that any of those have “minimal impact,” but the cumulative effect is very large. They are playing a big series against a playoff rival with a skeleton crew. They’re not whining about it, and they shouldn’t but this isn’t the team they started the season with, and it’s silly to pretend otherwise. The last straw doesn’t have to be any bigger than the straws that didn’t break the camel’s back – it’s the cumulative effect of all of them.

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