SI’s Will Carroll is quite the expert when it comes to player injuries. He’s been the go-to guy for questions about recovery times, likelihood of re-injury, impact on performance, etc. He was at the fore of our understanding of pitcher abuse, and why young pitchers so frequently blow their arms out.

So, when Carroll talks about his expectations for a team’s health in 2012, we listen.

Yesterday, he revealed his Team Health Report for the Cubs, and his expectations are largely good. According to Carroll, the Cubs have had back-to-back “top ten” performances in terms of health, which, I’ll concede, is hard to understand, given the infirmary ward that seemed to live at Wrigley Field last year. But, as I’ve said, Carroll knows this stuff, so I’m inclined to listen. (Carroll explains his methodology here, which is actually all kinds of complex and layered.)

2012 looks like it should be good, too. Carroll breaks down all players by Green Light (low injury risk profile), Yellow Light (moderate injury risk profile), and Red Light (high injury risk profile). The Cubs have a handful of players in each category, but their most important players – Starlin Castro, Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, for example – are all Green Lighters. The Yellows include guys you’d expect (Geovany Soto, Alfonso Soriano, David DeJesus), and a couple you might not (Marlon Byrd, Chris Volstad).

The Red Light group is Ian Stewart, Paul Maholm, Randy Wells, Kerry Wood, and Carlos Marmol. On Marmol, Carroll points to some of the issues we observed last year:

Marmol showed some fatigue and velocity issues in the second half. Given his long standing mechanical issues – or should I say, alleged issues, since we really don’t know if they’re bad, but they sure don’t look good – it’s reasonable to think that the velocity loss is predictive. Managing Marmol isn’t just going to be a medical issue and might give us a lot of insight on Chris Bosio, the Cubs new pitching coach.

Carroll’s thoughts on Randy Wells – a guy I’d not even considered as a serious risk this year – are more dire:

Forearm problems augur elbow issues. Velocity loss tends to predict shoulder issues. Control problems point to elbow issues. Stamina problems tend to go hand in hand with shoulder issues. What happens when you have all of them? You warm up Travis Wood and [Doctor] Jim Andrews.

That rotational depth sure could come in handy this year.

  • jstraw

    It would take a comet strike to the northern hemisphere to injure more Cubs in 2012 than were hurt in 2011.

    • Brett

      You pretty much just guaranteed it.

    • ogyu

      No, the comet isn’t scheduled to hit until Dec. 21, 2012, after the baseball season is over.

      • TWC

        I thought that was the date that the solar system’s hidden planet Niribu emerges out of the dark matter to cause a catastrophic alignment of the planets ensuring complete and total astronomic chaos. ┬áNo? I might have to adjust the settings on my tin foil hat….

  • Spencer

    Just so long as James Russell gets to start if some of our guys go down. We’ll be A-OK then.

    • TWC

      Spence, baby, you’re raining clouds on my sunny day.

      • Spencer

        I have a cloudy day today. Only right that everyone shares my misery.

  • Edwin

    I find it hard to take these “injury risk analysis” articles seriously. It’s too in-exact to be of much value. Will is basically telling us things we already know. Old players have more injury risk. The more games a player players, the higher the injury risk. If a player has a past history of injury, the player has a higher injury risk. Certain positions (Catchers, pitchers) have more injury risk. Certain body types might have more/less injury risk. Playing baseball at all has injury risk. It just doesn’t seem like that well written of an article to me.

    • Brett

      You have to look at the explanatory article, too, though. The Cubs-specific piece is pretty top-level. There’s actually a whole bunch of data that goes into it, apparently.

  • T C

    I just cant trust a guy who said Byrd missed significant time last year because the Cubs were “exploring their centerfield option”, and not even mentioning the fact that he took a freakin fastball to the face that cause him to miss so much time. At that level of him not doing his research, I’m inclined to disregard everything the man says

  • die hard

    wonder what he said about Soto before he pulled a groin?

  • butlerdawgs

    Funny thing about that picture is that he really just jammed his finger

  • ferrets_bueller

    Should have been the Nomar groin grab pic.

    • Brett

      Yup. Crud. Missed an opportunity.

  • TeddyBallGame

    Thanks Jstraw, way to Chip Caray it…He is the KING of jinxes..”Jeff Conine 0-for-90 lifetime vs Cubs (Crack, there’s a HR)”…Thanks Chip, you suck!!