Monday, April 1, 2013

Which Teams are off to a Healthy Start?

How many of you bet heavily on the Houston Astros to win it all this year? Well, if you did (at 300 to 1 odds), you will have been relieved on Monday morning to see that they stood, undefeated, atop the big leagues. Granted there were several games still to be played, but let's try to hold on to our excitement for the Astros.

If you have not had a chance to scrutinize the MLB injury reports, let me give you a quick run-down of which squads are healthy and which are not. I shall not include injuries to players who are likely to have little or no impact upon their team's success this season. The Pirates, for example, will be without the services of Charles Morton and Jeff Karstens. Neither pitcher is likely to blossom into a Cy Young candidate this year and their places can easily be filled.

In the National League, Arizona will have to do without right fielder Cody Ross for a while. He's a lifetime .267 hitter whose 2012 numbers were 22, 81, .267. So they will miss him a bit.  The Braves will start without Johnny Ventera, a set-up man, with a 2.33 ERA in his 3-year career. In 2010 and 2011 he appeared in 79 and then 85 games. So somebody else is going to need to step up.

The Dodgers are without the aging Ted Lilly and Chad Billingsley, who was 10-9 with an ERA+ of 107 and a WHIP 1.29,  as well as shortstop Hanley Ramirez. He hit just .271 last year and has not recently come close to equalling his 33 home runs in 2008 or his .342 average in 2009. He hit 24 home runs over 667 at bats in the last two years.

Try pitching with that on Johan.
Miami is missing 1B Logan Morrison, who hit 23 bombs last year. The Mets have to get by for a while without Johann Santana, whose shoulder is still a concern. Santana is not the pitcher he was from 2004 through 2009. Last season he was 11-9, 2.98 with a 1.176 WHIP. They are also missing ex-Jay Shawn Marcum, who was 7-9 last year, with a respectable 3.76 ERA.

The Cardinals will miss third baseman David Fresse (20, 79, .293 last year), but not as much as Jason Motte, who had 42 saves last year.

So in the senior circuit the Mets, Dodgers, and the Cardinals are the teams most impacted by injuries.

Hard to believe anyone could have elbow problems doing this.
In the AL the Red Sox must begin without slugger David Ortiz, but not for too long. He will start a minor league rehab next week. They are also missing reliever Craig Breslow. The LA Angels have Ryan Madson on the DL with elbow problems. They were counting on him to help solve their right-handed reliever problems. He had 32 saves for the Phillies last year.

The Twins are missing Scott Diamond, who was 12-9 with an excellent 3.54 ERA and a 1.243 WHIP in 2012. Oakland's Hiroyuki Nakajima is out with a hamstring. He has hit 104 home runs and batted .310 in his 11 year career in Japan. 

Tampa Bay's Juan Carlos Oviedo is out for 60 days. He has 66 saves over the past two seasons in Florida, though his ERA was 4.06 last year. The Rays are also without DH Luke Scott, who hit 14 home runs and drove in 55 runs in 2012 in 314 at bats.

The Rangers are without Joakim Soria, who has amassed 160 saves over the past five years with the Royals. He had 28 last year after notching 43 in 2010. Brett Lawrie will not play for the Blue Jays for a bit as he is nursing sore ribs.
The Yankees' doctors are working overtime.

And then there's the Yankees. Their fans will begin 2013 biting their nails as they watch replacements for Mark Teixeira (wrist), Curtis Granderson (forearm), Derek Jeter (ankle), and Phil Hughes (back) suit up. Oh, and the once much anticipated Michael Pineda is again not coming out of Spring Training.

So the Angels, Rangers, Rays, and Twins have some problems, the Yankees may, to put it lightly, be screwed - unless their starters are better than expected and Mariano Rivera pitches like ... well, Mariano Rivera.

In case you have not been noticing which teams have not been mentioned, let me point out that likely front runners Cincinnati, Washington, and Detroit are virtually injury-free. Can they stay that way and fight it out in the World Series? Or is there any point if the Houston Astros are going to win it all anyway?

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