By Will Carroll
March 01, 2011
When it comes to injuries, good is boring. There's nothing quieter than an empty training room, but that means those Trainers sitting in there looking bored have done their jobs and done them well. It's unlikely that Scott Sheridan and his staff are actually sitting around, reading the latest copy of the Journal of Athletic Training or Sports Illustrated, but they've put themselves in a situation where it's possible. This is as low a risk rating for a team as I think is possible, built by a GM that understands injury risk, listening and trusting the judgement of his staff. It's built on the long career and research of Sheridan's predecessor, Jeff Cooper, who still consults with the team. While the team itself might not be as forward thinking or research oriented as some others, they've got a roster where the medical staff can focus on the right things -- prevention, prehab -- and have plenty of time to deal with the inevitable traumatic injuries that will come along without the likelihood that they'll be overwhelmed. Indeed, there's a small chance that the Phillies (and a couple other teams) have become a bit risk averse. The risk/reward ratio is always speculative and it's hard to say that the Phillies didn't do everything they needed to do this offseason, but they could think about acquiring some risk if they needed. If they needed some extra offense, they are the kind of team that could make a deal for a Carlos Beltran or a similar player with talent and injury problems.

(HEAD TRAINER: Scott Sheridan; FIVE YEAR RANK: 8; 2010 RANK: 9)
For explanation of these ratings, click here
C Carlos Ruiz
Ruiz is an interesting case in that the solid medical staff and the backups he's had over the last few seasons have hidden the physical issues that Ruiz has had. He's likely to push through them, missing a game or two here and there as they work on his knees, his back, or whatever happens to be the problem. He's also one of those catchers that seems to have "good luck." It may be a skill to avoid painful foul tips or make it through a collision, but there's nowhere near the data to support that hypothesis.

2B Chase Utley
Utley is green despite two major issues in the past couple seasons. The hip injury is an issue of timing. While The System increases his risk rating for the surgery, it also knows he missed no time and has had no problems in the two seasons since he had it. It also knows that a traumatic thumb injury like that isn't something that recurs normally. He could do it again, but so could anyone who puts their hand in the wrong position at the wrong time.

SP Roy Halladay
Halladay isn't a machine and the groin injury at the end of last season was a sign that maybe he can wear down. At this stage, it's smarter to bet on a continuation until there's clear sign that he's wearing down. The Ron Guidry comps are a bit worrisome, but there's not a real physical comp there.

SP Cliff Lee
Aside from 2007 and an abdominal strain, Lee's been nearly automatic for 200-plus since establishing himself as a starter. As with the rest of the rotation, there's no indications that he doesn't have more of those seasons coming.

SP Roy Oswalt
There was a period where Oswalt's back and legs seemed to be giving him issues, portending bigger problems. Sources tell me that he got religion on this a bit last offseason and that while he likes his good ol' boy image, he's not above hiring a personal trainer to get him in shape. People forget that he was around Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, two guys whose work ethics often rubbed off. (That doesn't have anything to do with their reported use of PEDs, so don't go twisting things.)

SP Cole Hamels
Most pitchers that go from World Series ace to fourth starter have some issues. Hamels is just getting better. He was off a bit in '09, but bounced back and never went below the 190-mark regardless. That's huge for a guy clearing the injury nexus.

Also Green:
1B Ryan Howard
SS Jimmy Rollins
Rollins is a difficult read. He's a speed player with some leg injuries. He came back too quickly and just never seemed to get his legs under him -- no pun intended. At 32, that could well be a sign of decline. The slightest hint of a leg issue is going to have me selling hard and even the chance that he gets back to his 20-30 level will make him an overdraft in most leagues.

3B Placido Polanco
Polanco had some injuries last season, starting with a knee injury that took place about 100 feet from me in Bradenton during spring training. Polanco's perhaps the real risk on the Phillies since the dropoff to his backup is steep. The Phillies will need to find a way to rest him or find a better backup.

CF Shane Victorino
Victorino is starting to feel a bit like Aaron Rowand. He's physically talented, but plays all out, putting him at risk for trauma at any point. It takes its toll over the course of a season, but also a career. Like Rowand, Victorino could crash (figuratively and literally) at any point and there's very little even the best medical staff can do to prevent it now.

RF Domonic Brown
Brown's going to have to win this job over Ben Francisco and some others, but he's the most interesting candidate here. He could platoon and will be spotted out by Charlie Manuel, but really the only risk is that he hasn't done it at this level. His athleticism is a big plus.

SP Joe Blanton
Blanton lost it for a bit last year, which dropped his innings, and made it look like an injury. While there could be some underlying problem, Blanton had things back together enough to get playoff starts and is as solid a fifth starter as you'll find in the NL.

KR Ryan Madson
Assuming Madson learned not to do stupid things like kicking chairs, the rating is probably a bit high. He's likely to get some save chances here and there, maybe more, so he's a valuable reliever in fantasy terms and even more valuable for the Phillies. He's in a contract year, so that could affect things as well.

CL Brad Lidge
Lidge is a very high yellow, with continuing elbow problems the biggest concern. He's had arm and leg problems over the last four seasons, but his fragility is complicated by that sandwiched season where the team won in spite of him. No one has a good explanation why he was so bad for one year, which means it could well recur, or remain a one-season fluke. He also has some guys behind him that could take saves, if Charlie Manuel were to every finally decide he's had enough.
LF Raul Ibanez
Ibanez is the only red here, and let's face it, he's really not that risky. Not only that, but the dropoff to his likely replacement, Ben Francisco (or Domonic Brown, potentially), isn't much at all. Ibanez could be platooned, but it's more likely that he'll be spotted out in the situations where Charlie Manuel feels it's best. You can bet he'll be listening to his medical staff on those decisions.

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