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.