Whether it’s an injury to the very promising local High School Freshman pitcher, who, in a fit of youthful enthusiasm, breaks a collar bone with a head first slide into first base, the town’s talented Little League catcher, who gets tangled up with a runner trying to score and breaks an ankle, a Hall of Fame closer tearing his ACL, while shagging fly balls, or Kevin Youkilis with lower back pain from too much bending at Third, or stretching at First, the genuine fan of The Game reacts with sympathy, not joy.
“It was sad, man,” David Ortiz told Maureen Mullen, CSNNE.com reporter. “Last night when I saw it on TV it was pretty emotional. And going out the way he did it was unbelievable… I don’t want to see anybody getting injured, especially a guy like Mariano.However, once the damage is done, it is fair [leaving the loss of Bailey aside] to assess how these recent injuries in the AL East to Mariano Rivera, Evan Longoria, and The Youk may affect the pennant race.
Stat geeks sharpen decimal points over WAR percentages, which is keyed on the cost of replacing a player. So, let’s see how difficult it will be for the Yankees, Sox, and Rays to replace Rivera, Youkilis, and Longoria.
In theory, the higher the player’s WAR [Wins Above Replacement] score, the more difficult it would be to replace him. We will eschew using 2012 ratings, as they are such a small sample thus far.
Rivera 3.7 Youkilis 3.7 Longoria 7.3
These 2011 season scores are intended to represent a player’s relative value to his team, as well as his value compared to other players at his position in MLB. This would indicate that the Rays will have a much more difficult time replacing Longoria.
Another factor for the season timeframe is how long these three key players will be missing. Rivera is listed as out for the rest of the 2012 season; Youkilis went on the 15-day disabled list due to a lower back injury, retroactive to April 29; Longoria will miss four to eight weeks with a partial tear in his left hamstring.
ADVANTAGE: RED SOX
While Girardi may try the “Bullpen By Committee” gambit, he would really mean “I Lost My Closer and Do Not Have One Guy That Can Replace Him.” The individual suspects include: Dave Robertson, former closer Rafael Soriano, Corey Wade’ and lefties Phil Hughes and David Phelps, who could go to the pen, IF Andy Pettitte can still cut it.
Former closer David Aardsma is a longshot, working his way back from Tommy John surgery, but would not be back until late in the season.
The Yankees will put a positive spin on the in-house options and then explore the trade option, but that pool is shallow and tepid and goes from a Putz to Wuertz: J.J. Putz, Jonathan Broxton, Matt Capps, Francisco Cordero, Kyle Farnsworth, Brandon League Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Valverde and Michael Wuertz. Perhaps they could send Oakland prospects for Grant Balfour?
Joe Girardi refused to designate either David Robertson or Rafael Soriano the interim successor to Mariano Rivera. “You’re probably going to see both of them,” Girardi said before tonight’s game with the Royals. “I’m not ready to be pinned down.”
The Sox were on the verge of promoting their future franchise Third baseman, Will Middlebrooks, who has been tearing up the minors this season and the Youk to the DL move serves as an easy transition.
As suggested in the post by our BSI Editor and Senior Writer, Derek Stykalo, when Youkilis returns, the Sox may consider leaving Middlebrooks in the starting 3b slot and using Youk to DH against LHPs and let Ortiz hit against the other 75% of the AL pitchers “in an attempt to get Youk’s numbers up” and make him more attractive for a trade. [http://bosoxinjection.com/2012/05/03/is-it-time-the-red-sox-consider-trading-kevin-youkilis/]
With a WAR rating of 7.3, Longoria leaves a Super-sized jock to fill for the Rays.
Enter Elliot Johnson who hit below .200 in both of his previous seasons in the majors, and he’s at .182 this year with four hits in 22 at-bats. While affable manager Maddon will try to convince the media and himself that Johnson will be “fine,” the boys up in the office will be hitting speed dial for trades.
The signing of Jose Reyes, pushing Hanley Ramirez to third, makes Matt Dominguez available; “His glove is ready for the big leagues now, but it remains to be seen if he’s ready to hit Major League pitching full time.” [http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/prospects/watch/y2012/] Or, there’s Chone Figgins and Danny Valencia.
But the Rays may look to New York for a 3b; the Mets have been dangling David Wright and are in the rebuild mode that would make a deal possible; say Wright for a package to include some of the following: RHP Matt Moore, SS Hak-Ju Lee, LHP Jake McGee, or OF B.J. Upton.
ADVANTAGE: RED SOX
With the loss of No-Mo Runs Rivera, the Yankees, ironically, become a Red Sox clone: a team with a shaky closer slot that will need to rely on overwhelming teams offensively. The huge vacancy at the hot corner in Tampa makes the loss of Youkilis, even if he never plays 3b again for the Sox [maybe only DHs or is traded] a minor inconvenience with Middlebrooks MLB-ready and seems to give the Boston Nine a big advantage for 2012.
ADVANTAGE RED SOX
The impact of the Rivera loss? “No way of telling,” Valentine told Maureen Mullen, CSNNE.com reporter. “They have a couple of guys who have been very good at the end of a game and it is during the season so they have been battle-tested. I think it’ll depend on their starting pitching. If they’re going to the sixth and seventh a lot I think they’re going to miss him. If they’re starting pitching stretches out into the eighth inning I think they might be OK. It’s still not going to be as comfortable a feeling for sure.”
Three recent injuries to key players and the difficulty in replacing them could become a major factor in the AL pennant chase and Wild Card sweepstakes.
Tags: Andy Pettitte B.J. Upton Brandon League Chone Figgins Closer Corey Wade Danny Valencia Dave Robertson David Aardsma David Phelps Francisco Cordero Francisco Rodriguez Grant Balfour Hak-Ju Lee Hanley Ramirez IF J.J. Putz Jake McGee Jonathan Broxton Jose Reyes Jose Valverde Kevin Youkilis Kyle Farnsworth Lefties LHP Matt Capps Matt Dominguez Matt Moore Michael Wuertz New York Mets OF Phil Hughes Prospects Rafael Soriano RHP SS Third Baseman Tommy John Surgery Will Middlebrooks Will Middlebrooks (3b) Wright