Monday, June 28, 2010

Walking Wounded

It has been a tough week for the Sox. A tragic gasoline fight accident amongst bullpen members left one game dead and another wounded in Colorado. Then, in a three game series against the Giants in San Francisco the Sox lost Pedroia for six weeks with a broken foot, Buchholz for a couple starts with a strained hamstring, and Victor Martinez for at least a few days with a broken thumb. These are just the latest in a rather long string of injuries for the team.

Update: So the Red Sox are going to place Victor Martinez on the DL after all. Hopefully he'll miss close to the minimum. With Mark Wagner and Dusty Brown, the two AAA catchers, on the minor league DL, it isn't clear who the back up will be. You wonder if the Red Sox will revisit Ianetta with the Rockies, although they've avoided making impulsive moves in the past.

The Sox "ace", Josh Beckett has missed about half his starts due to back and oblique injuries. When he was healthy enough to start, Beckett posted a gaudy ERA well over 7. If all goes right, Beckett would return in late July.

The expensive Japanese import, Daisuke Matsuzaka, has also missed about half of his starts for the team, mostly due to a sore fore arm. He has been solid, if unspectacular, in the nine starts he has been able to make, although it may be due to a bit of luck when it comes to keeping balls in the park (4.50 ERA vs a 5.13 xFIP, which is normalized for home run rate).

Even Clay Buchholz hasn't been spared. Trying to break up a double play in San Francisco on Saturday, Buchholz came up lame. Initially diagnosed with a hyper extended knee, Buchholz was later diagnosed with a minor hamstring tear. That sounds a lot scarier than it is; technically speaking, any strain is a tear. Buchholz is slated to be skipped in the rotation once, then return. The Red Sox have some flexibility here because they have two off days over the next week.

The guy who was supposed to lead the offense, Jacoby Ellsbury, has played all of NINE games all season, thanks to broken ribs courtesy of Adrian Beltre. Ellsbury was off the DL for a bit, before new fractures were discovered after he was unable to play effectively. Ellsbury is supposed to return sometime after the All Star Break, although very little information has been released since he went out to Athlete's Performance Institute in Arizone for rest and rehabilitation.

The player whose defense pushed Ellsbury from center field to left field, Mike Cameron, has battled an abdominal injury. At first, it was diagnosed as appendicitis, then kidney stones, but it turns out Cameron had kidney stones AND a tear in his abdominal wall. Ouch. This injury often requires surgery, but through rest and rehab, Cameron was able to come back after a month on the DL. However, for two weeks he wasn't able to play in consecutive games and is still bothered by pain from the injury.

Jeremy Hermida, the outfield depth for the Red Sox and one of the most talented 4th outfielders in the game, was another victim of a collision with Beltre. He was thankfully able to avoid breaking his ribs, instead just bruising them. Hermida has been out since June 9th and is looking at an early July return.

And finally we get to Pedroia, who Buster Olney argues is one of the most irreplaceable players in the game. The Sox are extremely weak at 2B in the farm system and off the bench, and even some of the players in the minors who might be able to fill in are hurt, such as Jose Iglesias, who broke his finger a week ago and Tug Hullet, who had been signed to be their back up infielder, has been horrendous in AAA. The Sox did snag Eric Patterson in a trade with the A's, although he's only slightly more of a real 2B than Bill Hall is. Patterson's minor league numbers are outstanding (.309/.363/.487 over 1300 AAA at bats), but he's struggled in his major league career (.224/.301/.340). We'll see if he can pull a Nava.

Yet somehow, despite all of this, the Red Sox are leading the wild card and only a game back of the Yankees. To start the season, if you had told me Beckett was going to miss half his starts and Ellsbury would have only played nine games by July 1, I would have taken 5 games back of the wild card in a heartbeat. I am not really sure how they've managed to do it, but they're just winning games.

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