The way the Yankees have handled injuries could cost them a playoff spot

Mark+Teixeira

Injuries have been a common theme for the Yankees this season and in a year where there has been quite a bit of unrest among the fans they have gotten a pass on this. However, maybe the Yankees shouldn’t be. While a lot of the injuries are a result of bad luck there has also been a fair amount of mismanagement that has made the situation much worse.

It started back in Spring Training with Derek Jeter. Jeter was coming off offseason ankle surgery which had an initial diagnosis of a May return. Jeter is extremely competitive though and was determined to get back by Opening Day and the Yankees seemed fine with that. So he pushed himself too hard and he ended up having a critical setback to the point where even an All-Star break return is not guaranteed.

More recently there has been Mark Teixeira. Teixeira suffered a torn ligament sheath in his wrist during Spring Training. It’s a serious injury that occasionally requires surgery to repair. It’s tricky though and other players around baseball, Jose Bautista and Mark DeRosa, both gave quotes to the press essentially warning Teixeira to be careful and not rush back too soon.

Like Jeter, Teixiera is extremely competitive and rushed his injury. After missing about two full months, Teixeira returned to the Bronx with just three days of rehab. It turns out that he was never completely healthy and Kevin Long admitted that he wasn’t even hitting off a tee from the left side recently. But the Yankees were so desperate to have him back that it didn’t matter.

Now we still don’t know how much time Teixeira is going to miss. He’s not on the DL yet, but that seems like denial more than anything. If he hasn’t been healthy in the three weeks since returning he’s not going to get healthy suddenly after a couple of days off. A DL stint seems inevitable and it seems possible that it could even be for a month or more.

Besides Teixeira and Jeter there are other instances. Such as Kevin Youkilis. Youk was so important to the team in April that when his back started acting up they tried to get him to play through it. He did and ended up on the DL as a result. He came back, was clearly still not healthy or effective, and is now on the DL again. For how long is anyone’s guess.

There are also lesser cases that I worry about. Like CC Sabathia. He’s getting up there in years and is coming off offseason elbow surgery. During the offseason the Yankees admitted that they probably needed to get him so more rest this year and they planned on cutting back his workload as a result.

Well, that hasn’t happened. In fact, even on days when it’s clear that he doesn’t have his best stuff Girardi sticks it out with him as long as possible. Instances when he gives up four runs or more and pitched seven innings are not uncommon. Considering that the Yankees rotation has been fine and Adam Warren has been a seldom used long-man in the ‘pen it seems downright pointless to overwork CC.

Let’s also not forget Travis Hafner. He is a guy who has not been able to stay consistently healthy for years. But because the Yankees were so desperate for offense they have ignored that fact and have used him on an almost daily basis. And just like clockwork, Hafner’s shoulder has been bothering him.

Could they have avoided this with regular rest? Maybe, maybe not, but Hafner has certainly not been getting the Eric Chavez treatment where he was regularly rested no matter how well he was hitting. Before the shoulder injury he played basically every day. He sat against some lefties at first, but that lasted about two weeks into the season when the Yankees abandoned that plan. So it should be no surprise that he’s been ineffective.

Some injuries, like the two broken bones for Curtis Granderson, are freak things that couldn’t have been avoided. But setbacks to Jeter and Teixeira were completely avoidable and the fact that Hafner and Youk’s chronic injuries are being problems is not completely unavoidable.

The Yankees have had a lot of injury problems this year, but I can’t help but feel like a lot of them could have been managed a lot better. This team was going to be a borderline playoff team to start with and it could end up that they are on the outside looking in because of the way they’ve dealt with them.

OTHER NOTES

• The Yankees have signed first round draft pick Ian Clarkin (33rd overall) to a slot deal of $1,650,100 pending a physical. Their other unsigned pick, 32nd overall Aaron Judge, has a slot offer from the Yankees that he is still mulling over.

• MRI’s came back showing only inflammation, not a tear, in Mark Teixeira’s wrist. They will re-evaluate him this week before deciding if they will put him on the DL, but like I said above, a DL stint seems hard to avoid at this point.

• If you missed it, Adam Warren was demoted to Triple-A and Kevin Youkilis was placed on the DL over the weekend. RHP Chris Bootcheck and OF Thomas Neal were called up in their place.

• The Yankees also signed eighth round pick Brandon Thomas to a $75K deal which is about half of his slot value.

• LHP Cesar Cabral is done with rehab, has cleared waivers and been assigned to Double-A Trenton. None of the Rule 5 Draft rules apply to him now. He’s just a regular old minor leaguer.

• Jose Ramirez was promoted to Triple-A. It was initially thought to be for just one start, but it is permanent. Ramirez had a 2.76 ERA, a 10.6 K/9 and a 3.2 BB/9 in 42.1 innings at Double-A this year.

• Ronnier Mustelier has been placed on the minor league DL with midsection tightness. Incredible bad luck as he was a candidate to get called up sometime soon. Musty is hitting .280/.319/.408 in 39 games so far this season.

• The Yankees never even made an offer to Dodgers’ phenom Yasiel Puig when he was a free agent last year. He eventually signed a $42 million deal.

• The Yankees are back in the Bronx this week. Be sure to buy your Yankees tickets.

Photo credit: (June 11, 2013 – Source: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America).

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28 Responses to The way the Yankees have handled injuries could cost them a playoff spot

  1. brian says:

    I mostly agree about Jeter and Teix… but hindsight is 20/20

    Given the tumultuous offseason all parties involved felt Jeter being there opening day was important not only for baseball but symbolic reasons as well…

    And Teix, a little less defensible but again, to just have season ending surgery and give up was a bit much, im glad he tried to give it a go, if he ends up being out for the season so be it, at least they tried

    /devils advocate

    • Steven says:

      I'm with you. I'm glad they at least tried to play instead of just hang around Tampa. Back in Spring Training it was 70/30 that Tex could play this year or have surgery so they played the odds. I have no problem with that. Backs are tricky and we know from Mattingly even if you can play with it it takes a lot out of you. I give Youk credit for giving it a go. It didn't work out. As the article says when it comes to Curtis freaky things will happen. Arms will blow out (Manny, Nick Goody), bones will brake, ankles will snap when playing with your kids (love ya Joba), and hips will do whatever they do. I think it says a lot about a players professionalism when they go all out to get back on the field. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't. No matter how careful you are, whether you have the best doctors in the world or not, humans get old and they get hurt. And besides what is the alternative? Would it be better to have a bunch of players NOT wanting to be on the field?

      • You absolutely want the players to want to be out there, but I also want the manager and GM to protect the players from themselves. Athletes are extremely competitive and will often play through injuries which is fine sometimes, but occasionally it just makes things worse. All three players, Youk, Teixeira, and Jeter had setbacks that probably could have been avoided.

        What I'm saying is that I'd rather a player sit out 60 games and play 100 than play the first game and miss the next 162.

  2. Steven says:

    As an older Yankee fan the constant second guessing is really starting to piss me off . If a player says he's good to go and the doctors clear him to play then the team is going to play him. These are paid athletes and their job is to play. They are also human beings not machines. They are going to get hurt. I'm not a Yankee fan because of Mark, Curtis, Derek or Alex. I'm going to keep following them, rooting for them, and going to as many games as I can regardless of who's on the team or what their payroll is. I'm not alone in my viewpoint either. So give it a rest and don't begrudge the situation. I'd rather see a scrappy team then an overpriced underachieving one.

    • Tanned Tom says:

      What Rob was engaging in is called "constructive criticism". It is the sign of a healthy fan to able to root for your team even as you admit their faults. We all do that here all the time. We deplore the A-Fraud contract, we lament the underperformance of Phil Hughes, we point out the folly in signing an oft-injured player and expecting him to play everyday. Then we root like hell for them to win. Your attitude that dissent is somehow insufficiently pro-Yankee is frankly a bit too "love it or leave it". It is possible to love something/someone and still be aware of their flaws. If you really are getting pissed off I suggest you change your diet or wear bigger sized underwear, because you are being too cranky.

      • Steven says:

        I not cranky just sick of hearing about it from "so called Yankee fans" and supporters If I have to listen to others then I'm entitled to my two cents. I have zero issue with how this year has played out and a lot of knowledgeable people are as well. Sure we can all play devil's advocate, we can all second guess, and we can all piss and moan after the fact. Nothing is a given in life especially when it comes to human frailty. My point is (and sense you said nothing to disprove it), that these guys earn their living playing the game. Of coarse they want to earn their paycheck, especially when your talking about $23 million for one and $12 for the other. I give them credit for trying to be out their. With all the pressure on Joe to win, he's going to go with the best players who give him the chance to win, and if the player says he's good to go, and the doc's clear him, it's not his or the organizations fault if they get hurt. If we don't make the playoffs it's because we didn't deserve to not because the organization mishandled the situation.

        • Who determines who deserves it? It's a manager's job not to spoil his players, but to get the most out of them. Especially in the case with Derek Jeter, where they just watched David Adams miss 2 seasons with the same injury, it would have been nice for them to say, 'hey derek, I know you are working hard to come back, but Opening Day is not as important as the next 161 games.' and got him to slow down a little.

          With Jeter the initial diagnosis was that he wouldn't be back until May and he ignored that. With Teixeira you had other players from around the league, Jose Bautista and Mark DeRosa, literally warning him not to go too fast and Teixeira ignored it too. I recognize that these players want to earn their paychecks, but it's the manager's job to do what's in the best interest for the team not just on Opening Day, but for the entire season.

    • Youk, and Teixeira, and Jeter, and most athletes, always want to come back sooner than they are capable of. It's a manager's job to keep them in check and do what's best for the team and sometimes that means forcing a player to do something they don't want to do. Brian Cashman has come out and flatly said that athletes lie when it comes to their health and they can't be trusted. Unfortunately he said that back in 2009 and he doesn't seem to be heeding that advice today.

      • Steven says:

        Once again if the medical staff says clears them and the players are chomping at the bit then let them earn their money. Did you even watch the press conference when Youk and tex came back? Youk was clearly frustrated at the slow pace the team took with him. As Tex even said your never really 100%.

        • Lol. Teixeira is never 100 percent. He's hurt every single year. His contract just looks worse every day. Lucky for him A-Rod is also on this team otherwise he would be considered the offensive Carl Pavano.

    • David K. says:

      Where is this idea coming from that everything said later is "second guessing" and "hindsight is 20/20"? When you play for a week with a short 23 or 24 man roster and guys like Youkilis are too hurt to even pinch hit but not on the disabled list, that is just stupid mismanagement. Then eventually they DL him but for a week they played with a short hand. I don't get it. It was brutally obvious that they needed to DL a lot of these guys, not just wait for them come around while playing with a short roster. It's not second guessing.

      • Steven says:

        I'll give you that one. Even Cashman admitted that was a bone head move. But as far as how this injury thing played out I'm not faulting the players or the organization for how the outcome.

        It's second guessing whenever no one questions it when it happens yet cries about it after the fact. Unless it comes out that Kevin, Derek, Mark or any of the many players who've been hurt this year stated that they couldn't go or the medical staff didn't consent to them playing and the organization pushed them then it's all just that. This happened to the Mets a few seasons ago with Carlos Beltran. I leave it to you on who's side to take but if everyone is in agreement then there should be no reason to second guess. Anything can happen to any player at anytime. If we were comfortably ahead in the standings then sure rest everybody, but we're not. We need all hands on deck right now.

        • I'm not blaming the players, the blame is squarely on Joe Girardi, Brian Cashman, and the front office members who played a role in this as well.

          And I'm not second guessing here. Go back and read the site, read my Twitter feed. I have been saying for a long time that Derek Jeter is going too fast, Mark Teixeira is going too fast. I mean, Teixeira had a major injury and he had 3 days (3 DAYS!) of rehab. Back injuries aren't as straightforward so I wasn't as vocal with Youkilis, but he obviously fits this trend of the Yankees panicking and rushing their players back too soon.

  3. mikefoxtrot says:

    Given that the alternative for Tex was season-ending surgery, and given the circumstances,how badly have they handled it?

    • Poorly. Or at least poorly enough to question it.

      We don't know how this is going to end up. And I'm certainly not a doctor, but if they had kept him out another 2-4 weeks it might have prevented a 2-3 month stint on the DL. We don't know. What we do know is that the WBC stopped paying his salary when he was activated. It would have made more sense to have let him rehab for more than 3 days, so they could have better anticipated a setback, and not lost millions of dollars that could have been invested at the trade deadline.

      • Steven says:

        "We don't know how this is going to end up. And I'm certainly not a doctor,"

        Right, that's why team's have medical and training staff's. If they clear him to play then there's no reason to keep him from playing. We're not the only team to suffer injuries. Every team does and the season goes on. At least give Derek, Mark, and Kevin a little credit for wanting to be out there and do what they can to contribute rather then hang around Tampa and collect a check. With all the injuries that have gone on and the slow pace the team has taken with pretty much all of them it's short-sighted to blame Joe or economics.
        With the way Cashman and co. is operating now, high priced talent is off the radar anyway. Funny how the high priced all name teams are all in or close to last place (Dodgers, Blue Jays, Angels) and the scrappy good teams are fighting for playoff spots (Orioles, A's, Rays).

        • Tanned Tom says:

          Yeah, also funny how those "high priced all name teams " for the Yankees went to the playoffs 17 out of 18 years.

          • Steven says:

            And how many World Series did those All-Star at every position Yankees win? What about the no name teams from 94-00? Right.

          • Tanned Tom says:

            No names? Jeter, Williams, O'Neill, Raines, Boggs, Fielder, Tino, Posada, Cone Wells, Clemens, Pettitte, El Duque. All-stars, a couple of HOFers and a few near HOFers.
            Swing and a miss.

          • Steven says:

            Brosius, Jeter and Williams were just coming along, O'Neill was a platoon OF with the Reds who they wrote off as not being able to hit lefties, Boggs was written off by Boston and Ny media as being to old to play which also prompted the Charlie Hayes trade (his second go around with the Yankees), Clemens came to NY after having been written off by Boston and dumped by Toronto for salary cap reasons, Raines was a part-timer (although a huge bat), Straw was past his prime and not wanted by Torre, but extremely useful. Duque was big on the international scene but unknown in the US by most. He was awesome for us but that was pretty much it. Tino was unknown (mostly because he played in Seattle). Cone was at his best in 1995.

            Jimmy Key, David Wells, all these guys were either written off or past their prime players. So what's your point? Mike Stanley another guy who was great. Joe Girardi no one wanted him either. So GFY!

            So out of every

          • Steven says:

            Brosius was given up on by Oakland not coming along. Another no name who was a big part of our success.

          • Steven says:

            Another good one was Rueben Sierra past his prime but productive off the bench. Tony Fernandez had a nice season grooming Jeter in 95. Jack McDowell was are ace in 95. Louis Sojo, Shane Spencer, Jim Leyritz, all guys who came out of nowhere or who were written off as being too old or not good enough all played a big part in our success.

          • Tanned Tom says:

            You wasted your time recounting their pasts, I'm well aware of it. My point was that they were hardly no-names.
            And profanity does not show character, unless low class ranting coupled with lack of any insight whatsoever, and being a hear-no-evil homer qualifies as character.
            And don't even begin to trot out the long time fan card, I was at Mantle's last home game, so my bona fides are in order.

          • Steven says:

            Never questioned your credentials. "Cranky"? Don't try to backtrack now.

            My point is you can get by without a name at every position. Your a bit hypocritical if you can't accept an opposing point of view. I'm an optimist who sees where we are with all we've been through. Regardless of the injuries, we don't need to spend more millions on spare parts. Brignac might yet turn out to be something. Not a superstar but a useful productive player. So might Adams, Almonte, Romine, and any other cheap bargain we get. No one saw Claibourne coming. No one saw Robertson coming. If anything your knowledge and experience as a fan should demonstrate that years like this happen and they happen to everybody.

            On the Mantle game. Or any last game for that matter, it sucks to see a legend walk away. Makes this year all the more sweeter.

          • What about the Hall of Famers on those teams? Get real.

  4. Michael R. says:

    My guess and believe me it's a guess, is that it wouldn't have mattered much anyway. Tex's injury probably deserved surgery and he would have been done for the year anyway. Youk has a chronic bad back and wouldn't have done much either, and Jeter's career is probably over due to playing last year too long on an ankle that just couldn't take the stress any longer. Just an opinion but I just don't really think that playing sooner than later makes a difference for this season anyway.

  5. Tanned Tom says:

    I think Rob's original point was that the Yankees have not handled their injuries well. I don't see how that can be argued. They brought back Jeter, Teixeira and Youkilis before they were ready and all got re-injured.
    They lost (either through injury or free agency) players at RF, SS, CF, 3B, C, 1B and DH.
    They replaced them with a 40 year old RF, a career back up and Nunez at SS, the oft-injured Wells for Granderson, a walking DL list in Youkilis (who wants to be that A-Fraud plays more games than Youkilis this year?), perennial concussion candidate Cervelli, over the hill Overbay, and DL favorite Hafner. Then they over-played all of them and saw injuries to Nunez, Youkilis, Cervelli and Hafner.
    Exactly what part of this pattern can be described as anything besides mismanagement?

  6. It's so sad to know that they are put back to play again even if they are not yet feeling well. Even a very slight injury can lead into a serious one. If there is no recommendation from the doctors that the players are already fit to play then it should be good to go if not, then the players should have to rest to avoid the situation to be critical.