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Yankees Team Health Report 2011

There was no Dick Martin Award last year, but the Professsional Baseball Athletic Trainers Sociey (PBATS) gave out it's annual award, which is voted on by peers. I still think my award is a bit more telling, since it's objective, but no one begrudged Gene Monahan and his staff the win. Monahan has been with the Yankees long enough to truly deserve a monument and when he was out at the start of the season while fighting cancer, there was a clear dropoff in the injury stats. (It was an admittedly small sample size, though I'd say the carryover effect of the work he's done helped.) The Yankees have often spent their way around injuries, but they seldom do much with depth. They spend huge dollars on players, focus on developing their own when possible, but they're not scared of risk either. GM Brian Cashman balances it usually, signing the solid C.C. Sabathia to go along with the risky A.J. Burnett. He'll sign a veteran to match up with a youngster. It seems to work out, as the rings, the filled new palace, and the Yankee swagger show. Jay-Z says he made the Yankee hat more famous than the Yankees did, but you crazy for that one, Jay. This is the pinnacle franchise in sports and injuries aren't taking them down this year.

(HEAD TRAINER: Gene Monahan; FIVE YEAR RANK: 21; 2010 RANK: 6)
For explanation of these ratings, click here
 
GREEN LIGHT
SS Derek Jeter
Jeter is a surprising green if you consider his age and position, but let's face it, the guy is not normal. Like Cal Ripken, Jeter's going to have to move at some point and when he does start a decline phase, I expect it will be rapid. I'm not dumb enough to predict when that will happen, but The System says it's not this year.

3B Alex Rodriguez
Rodriguez never had the second part of his hip surgery and with so much money riding on those "historic milestones," I'm a bit surprised, really.

S1 C.C. Sabathia
The big man might have some junk in the trunk, but that body is more athletic than most of you reading this and I bet you don't have a Cy Young and a World Series ring. He's not BIGGER, which is the real key. That bulk goes into his pitches and as a pitcher, he's special.

Also Green:
1B Mark Teixeira
2B Robinson Cano
CF Curtis Granderson
RF Nick Swisher
 
YELLOW LIGHT
LF Brett Gardner
Gardner is a "low yellow," meaning he's close to the dividing line that separates green from yellow. It really moves in gradations, but in a broad sampling like this, trying to explain why someone is a 28 or getting cute with a "lime" rating only confuses. Gardner's a speed player with some history of leg issues and will be coming off wrist surgery. Wrist issues sap power, which shouldn't bother Gardner much.

RP Rafael Soriano
Welcome to New York, Rafael. The GM doesn't want you and you're likely to be taking over for the greatest closer of all time during this contract. His elbow held up well as Tampa's closer last year, so a change to setup shouldn't do too much to add to his risk.

CL Mariano Rivera
I have to explain this every year. Mariano Rivera often has some sort of minor injury during the season. He takes a couple weeks off and the Thunderbolt is back. God gave him that cutter and hasn't taken it away yet. You'll take every bit of risk to have Rivera as your closer.
 
RED LIGHT
DH Jorge Posada
Moving Posada from behind the plate helps him, but he's going to need to spell Martin some. Let's hope manager Joe Girardi, a guy who's not that far removed from catching, knows enough to figure out the proper split. The more he DH's, the better for this risk rating. He's red based on the thought that he'll catch a third of the time.

C Russell Martin
Martin is coming off the same type of hip surgery that Alex Rodriguez had, so he's got a role model on the team. The difference between Martin and the others that have had this type of hip issue is that Martin's came in a trauma. He slid, leg extended, and had the head of the femur pushed back into the acetabular labrum. Rodriguez, Chase Utley, et al aren't the best comp ... Bo Jackson is. Martin doesn't need a hip replacement, having escaped the worst case, but he's still very risky. With Posada and perhaps Jesus Montero sharing time, the risk is reduced somewhat. The System would like if he caught about half-time and got some DH time as well.

SP A.J. Burnett
The Yankees got both A.J.'s in this big deal. The good one in 2009 helped them win a ring. The bad one in 2010 wasn't unexpected, just, well, bad. He could be either one of them this season and that kind of binary outlook confuses The System. His injury history adds in and boom, red, though he's as likely as not to go 30 starts.

SP Philip Hughes
Hughes had a massive increase in innings, but more and more, it appears that there's a true multiplier on relief innings, especially the high-leverage type. Until we find that, we'll be guessing but it seems to be about 2:1. Hughes was over that and seemed to run out of gas down the stretch and into the playoffs. He's still very young, but if he can avoid arm problems and clear the 200-inning mark, he'll be on a Josh Beckett-like path.

SP Ivan Nova
With Andy Pettitte's retirement, Nova's task becomes tougher. He's going to need to go 180 innings as the No. 4 rather than 150 or so as the No. 5. If you believe a minor league inning is the same as a major league inning, Nova should be fine. Problem is, there's no evidence to suggest that. Nova's riskier the deeper he goes, though not an outrageous risk. Again, keeping him at the 150 inning level seems to be The System's key, so Cashman can ride him hard through July, make a deal for a starter, and it all works out fine.

SP Sergio Mitre
He's never gone 150 innings because he's never stayed healthy long enough to do it. What's more interesting is that he's really never been that good, but keeps getting chances. You'd think he was left-handed, but no, he's just a replacement-level filler until the Yankees find something better.
 
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