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White Sox Team Health Report 2011

I've heaped enough praise on Herm Schneider over the years that it's bordering on the romantic. The interesting thing isn't the results; those speak for themselves. To me, it's that even as close as I watch this team and their medical staff, we don't know much about them and their methods. Quick: Who's the team doctor? While many can name their team's doc off the top of their head, it's not quite so easy here. Even few Sox die-hards will know Dr. Charles Bush-Joseph. Schneider is known for his rehab of Bo Jackson, but even after long time S&C coach Steve Odgers moved on to the Boras Institute, nothing seemed to change. (More interestingly, there's little evidence that Boras clients are significantly more healthy than others.) There's seemingly a black box instead of a training room in U.S. Cellular Field. Injuries go in and productive players go out. The Sox understand this and have been able to bring in high-risk players such as Jim Thome, Jermaine Dye, and now Jake Peavy. The alchemy that happens, turning risk into wins, continues on in 2011. There's not a lot of red here, which means Schneider and his staff can focus on the high-leverage players.

(HEAD TRAINER: Herm Schneider; FIVE YEAR RANK: 1; 2010 RANK: 1)
For explanation of these ratings, click here
 
GREEN LIGHT
C A.J. Pierzynski
A transition to a more part-time role would help Pierzynski, though his durability is one of his skills.

2B Gordon Beckham
Locking in at one position boosts Beckham.

3B Omar Vizquel
Vizquel's really more of a placeholder with the potential to be a utility guy. Many thought that Joey Cora would be moving on to a manager's job and that Vizquel would take his place, being tutored by Ozzie Guillen. That could still happen, but Vizquel's not ready to hang up his golden glove yet. He'll start until Dayan Viciedo is ready, a date which no one seems to have a great handle on.

DH Adam Dunn
Dunn has a surprisingly high risk rating. Part of that is the position shift and yes, moving to DH probably shouldn't have that. The System sees him as a bit overweight, but Dunn really isn't. He's just a massive, football-scale guy the likes of which usually isn't seen in baseball. So all that aside, he's a relatively safe risk.

CL Matt Thornton
Thornton's been fine in the bigs, though few outside of Year 1 Under The Knife readers might remember his Tommy John surgery. (He did a couple posts for me in my initial, e-mail-only year about the process.) He's not the only closing option, but he's probably got first shot.

Also Green:
LF Juan Pierre
CF Alex Rios
SS Alexei Ramirez
SP Mark Buehrle
SP John Danks
 
YELLOW LIGHT
1B Paul Konerko
On most teams, Konerko would be red. With the team adjustment and the way they've handled him over the past few years, Konerko's back problems seem less risky than they probably really are.

SP Gavin Floyd
Floyd seemed like an afterthought in the trade that brought him to Chicago, but Don Cooper has turned him into a solid starter. He's more consistent and always had the stuff, but he's not the type that ages well. A shoulder injury at the end of last season didn't require surgery but throws up a flag. In this case, a yellow one.

SP Edwin Jackson
Jackson has moved so much that it's hard to get any sort of handle on him. Oddly, he's always been with good medical staffs, so he's got that going for him. He's still young and the cutter he added after coming to the Sox could be a monster, according to some hitters that faced him.
 
RED LIGHT
RF Carlos Quentin
On paper, Quentin's rating looks odd. He avoided the DL after two injury-marred seasons, but the Sox worked hard to keep him out there for 130 games, using rest wisely and spending hours pre- and postgame with him to make sure he stayed available. It's going to take that same kind of effort in '11, which is why stacking a team up with red-type risks is dangerous. There's only so many Trainers to go around ... though that could be easily rectified by a team in that situation.

SP Jake Peavy
Peavy detached the muscle from the bone last year and yes, that's as violent as it sounds. It's a relatively easy fix, but the healing time on that for a pitcher is a major unknown. Peavy's not behind schedule as some would say; there's just no real schedule. He'll be back, but no one, including the White Sox, can say just when or how he'll be in the short term of that return. That's very, very risky and we haven't even gotten into the recurrence risk. The Sox have the depth to get around this, but they're obviously a better team with a healthy Peavy in the rotation.

RP Chris Sale
Somewhere, Chris O'Leary is watching Sale pitch and his head is exploding. O'Leary's pitching theories include the "inverted W" (why isn't that an M?) which has no better example than the pelicanesque motion of Sale. The Sox moved him quickly from FGCU to the majors, keeping him in relief and making many think they were grooming him to close. If Peavy is out, Sale might take his slot in the rotation to start the season, then shift back. I love the idea of working him as a starter in the spring and think the mechanical concerns are overblown. The System is a bit confused by his role and the chance that he would be pushed above 120 innings.
 
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