Posts Tagged ‘injuries’

h1

Chien-Ming Wang: Easiest Word Play in Baseball?

May 4, 2009

As someone so incredibly noted two weeks ago Chien-Ming Wang has been dealing with a sore foot. The foot problem has led to hip and leg problems, which in turn has given him a release point about as consistent as a Sammy Sosa’s English. Wang’s DL stint and rehab will be switching focus from arm  stamina to a lower pitch count lower body strengthening program designed to help his legs and hips recover.

wangrehab

Not having his legs beneath him would go a long way in explaining Wang’s historically bad start to the year, and hopefully he can be back before the end of the month pitching like he is capable of.

In the meantime, Phil Hughes had a suberb start this week, striking out six in six innings against a very good Detroit offense. He allowed only one hit (a single) to Miguel Cabrera, Curtis Granderson and Magglio Ordonez combined, and only two hits total.  His pitch Fx data for the game is here. There is a ton to be encouraged by, even if it is only one start. His pitches ranged from a high of 94 mph to a low of 73 mph, a pretty huge difference in speeds, and his fastball averaged 91.33 mph, which is just where it should be if he wants to have enough velocity to get it by hitters on occasion. The variation pitch to pitch is incredible, and it really looks like his time in AAA has been paying off.

hughes428

Hughes even had some trouble getting his great curveball over the plate, it often was left high, but the break on it is so sharp that he was able to get away with it. If he can consistently throw his curve where he wants to Hughes’ arsenal is pretty tough to match.hughes2

He still has to prove he can be healthy for a full year, even though none of his injuries have actually been arm related, but a game like that one is exactly what everyone who has been following him in the minors knows he is capable of. It is yet to be determined if he will start tomorrow against Boston or be pushed back because of today’s rain out. Boston is probably an even more daunting game than his season debut, but I would love to see how he comes out of it. He could really push the Yankees to keep him in the majors with a good start.

h1

Melky Cabrera: The Next Barry Bonds?

April 23, 2009

The forgotten man in the Yankees outfield has really roared into the picture this week. After getting only two starts in the season’s first eight games Melky Cabrera has found himself in a position to take advantage of the injuries to Xavier Nady and Hideki Matsui. In his last twelve at bats, Melky has four homeruns, including his pair of jacks today (one of which was a 14th inning walk-off). This is a man who hit 8 homeruns in each of 2007 and 2008, in 545 and 414 at bats each of those years, respectively.

melky Power surges aren’t anything new to him; he hit five homeruns last April in 87 at bats. Not quite what we’ve seen from him this week, but after witnessing that last year I was convinced he had found his power stroke and would develop into a 20 homer center fielder. I had since not only jumped off of that bandwagon, but after the way he hit the rest of the season I hijacked and derailed the wagon completely Melky will probably never develop that kind of power, but even as is he’s a plus defensive outfielder with a very good arm.

If he can maintain even a portion of the power he has shown in brief stretches then he could be a starting caliber player. His on-base skills are abysmal, but if he could manage a .280 batting average than he could be an at least average center field bat.

The combination of Melky and Brett Gardner is hardly a spectacular tandem, and as it stands is probably a below average coupling. But take note, both are under 27 years old (Gardner is, at 26, a year older than Cabrera), and both are athletic defenders whose skills complement well. In one, the other, or both, the Yankees will be fine in center this season, and when Austin Jackson is ready (perhaps next Spring) the pair can perhaps replace Johnny Damon in left field, though neither of their bats play nearly as well for a corner spot.

Gardner is off to a rather slow start, so it is very encouraging to see some offense from Cabrera, who will likely find himself starting in center more and more if he keeps up the hitting, the same way Swisher kept himself in the lineup with his hot stretch even before Nady went down. It may not seem exciting to have a player whose peak is probably along the lines of .290/.350/.420 but I for one would be thrilled if Melky could put up a respectable line like that in center field this season.

By the way, Xavier Nady will not be undergoing Tommy John surgery (yet); he doesn’t have a full tear in his elbow, but rather a sprain, or partial tear. He’s going to rehab the injury and try and get back in as soon as a month (according to him) but hopefully within two months.

h1

Is Wang Still Hurting?

April 18, 2009

A day before his third start, I’ve been glancing over Chien-Ming Wang‘s pitch breakdown, seeing if there was any evidence of decline or lingering issues from his injury, since (as his two previous games obviously showed) he is just not sharp.

Wang’s fastball/sinker is averaging 90.5 mph, down 1.3 mph from last season. His slider has also shown a decreased velocity, down from 85.4 to 81.9 mph. On top of this, the main and the most obvious problem to anyone who has seen his first two starts has been his inability to locate pitches. His sinker has often been left up in the zone, and that is only when Wang has even been able to get it over the plate.

Wang’s injury last season was to his right foot. There are a few issues that could be lingering from this. First is that he did not even begin to lightly throw until late October, so he was likely way behind his usual off-season schedule. The second is that his foot is either still bothering him, or was bothering him recently enough that he is afraid to go 100% on it. The right foot for righties is the one used to push off of the rubber. If Wang is unable or unwilling to push off with maximum effort than not only is his velocity going to suffer (like it has been) but he is not going to be able to stay on top of his sinker, and it’s going to linger up and all over the zone from an inconsistent release (as has also been his problem).

Best case scenario is he was simply afraid to push it, and he is not actually injured (it’s been enarly nine months since the initial injury, so it’s likely that the foot is 100% healed). Hopefully it is something that either he or pitching coach Dave Eiland noticed and have corrected before tomorrow’s game, because the A.L. East is going to be brutal and until he recovers his form having Wang out there is simply giving away victories. The majors is not the place to work out mechanical and physical issues. Ian Kennedy has been completely dominant in AAA, striking out 11 in 6 innings in his last start, and Phil Hughes has demonstrated that he has the talent to get major league hitters out (when healthy), and both are better options than an out of sync Chien-Ming Wang.

By the way, I and probably most other Yankee fans were singing the praises of Nick Swisher since he got into the lineup and immediately went on a tear. Anyone who didn’t want him starting over Xavier Nady before certainly wanted it then. Well, Nady is going to be gone for quite awhile, and if his second Tommy John surgery becomes necessary (which it looks like it will) than Nady’s days as a Yankee are likely over. This is not exactly the way anyone wanted it to go down, because Nady is a very valuable hitter, especially against left handed pitching. Swisher will be in the lineup every day, but with Teixeira suffering from an ailing wrist and Matsui with a bum knee already the Yankees former depth is going to be spread very thin. It is a good thing that they assembled a strong bench because it is already becoming necessary. Perhaps this is the baseball gods roaring “You wanted Swisher, you’ve got it!” and striking down three of our hitters to get him in the lineup. Apparently they are not without  a sense of humor. In any case, best of luck to Nady, and hopefully he can get back and contribute later in the year; it’s never a good thing to see someone on your team hurt.

Unless they’re the rocking combo of Damaso Marte and Jose Veras. Fuck those guys.

h1

A-Rod has Surgery; Out 6-9 Weeks

March 9, 2009

As the title implies, A-Rod had his surgery today. He must have read my complaints from the other day, as the original plan was to rehab the injury.

This is a good compromise for the situation; Alex will only miss the month of April, and when he returns should be full strength. Rehab could not have guaranteed such a return, and the best case scenario would have him missing several weeks anyway. The arthroscopic procedure is only a temporary fix, but it is one that will get him through the season, at which point he can have the more invasive and permanent procedure done. This should also leave him ready to go next season.

For such a major injury, seemingly out of nowhere, it seems like it was handled well (though if his hip has been hurting for quite some time, as was said by the Yankees, then he probably should have had it checked out sooner). A-Rod could be back for Boston’s first series in the New Yankee Stadium the first week of April, and Yankee fans can get back to booing our best player once again.

h1

Hip to be Square: A-Rod Has Torn Hip Labrum

March 5, 2009

If anyone is questioning the groan inducing title puns, I am trying to get a job for the New York Post.

Alex Rodriguez is having a hell of a Spring. Yesterday it was noted that he had a sore hip, this morning his brother let it be known that Alex had a cyst on his hip that would require surgery, knocking him out for up to 10 weeks. Now, his agent, Scott Boras, and Brian Cashman both acknowledged that in addition to the cyst A-rod has a torn larbum in his hip. This ESPN article has been updating throughout the day, if anyone wants to follow it along.

Now, while details have been minimalized for the time being, a torn hip labrum is the same injury that Chase Utley played through last season and had operated on in November. He is set to make his Spring debut this week, and has been running already. That’s a recovery time of approximately 3 and a half months. For the time being, the cyst will be drained and the Yankees have said Alex is going to rehab in an effort to get back on the field faster, and opt for surgery later on if it is necessary.

This is probably the worst course of action for a few reasons. One, he is likely to miss several months regardless. Why jeapordize his health for the entire season to get him back sooner when he is already missing a chunk of time? Opting for immediate surgery could get him back by June fully healthy and recovered, rather than getting him back in mid-May with the risk of re-injuring or not even healing to begin with, in which case he could miss the whole year.

I’m sure the Yankees are already exploring a host of possibilities, including perhaps a trade for a third baseman. A few who are likely to be available are Adrian Beltre, Brandon Inge, and Hank Blalock. Beltre and Blalock are free agents after 2009, while Inge is signed for one more year after this. Other options could be shortstops Miguel Tejada or Bobby Crosby, both of whom could move to third and are in the last year of their contracts.

Out of all of the potential trade options, Crosby would probably make the most sense; he’s not exhorbitantly overpaid and would come for little more than taking on his contract. The best bet for the Yankees is probably to avoid any trade for the time being, unless it becomes apparent that Rodriguez is going to miss the full season. The Yankees sport depth in the other three corner positions, with Nick Swisher, Xavier Nady, Mark Teixera, Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. Whoever does not end up in center out of Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner are also capable corner outfielders (with the glove, certainly not with the bat).

Matsui will likely DH most of the time (if he is healthy), Damon, Cabrera, and Gardner are outfielders only (though Damon has played a bit of first for the Yankees). Teixera has played all four corners at various points in his career, including 15 less than stellar games at third in the majors and a full season of mediocre third in the minors.

The ideal solution for the Yankees has to be to let Nady and Swisher share time at third for the Spring. The Yankees have apparently been looking to move one of them, exploring trades with the Braves amongst others, but if either can play a competent third base it may be a blessing that they held onto them both. Most seem to be penciling Cody Ransom into the starting role as the main utility man and de facto starting third baseman, but looking elsewhere within the 25 man roster provides two vastly superior bats who have bodies and athleticism to handle third base.

I don’t expect to see any gold glove caliber play by either of them, but if one shows to be a fair fielder then the Yankees are much better off working from within, not giving up talent, and just hoping A-Rod can come back healthy.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.