Big Papi's big slump (cont.)
Injuries hit epidemic proportions
The Dodgers, Angels, Cubs, Brewers, Indians and Reds may be the teams with a big advantage if injuries pile up. For several teams, they already have.
Club executives identified those six teams as having among the better benches in baseball. Considering the epidemic of injuries, it could be crucial to have a versatile and productive bench.
The hot topics lately among major league general managers are the high number of injuries, and the increased time it's taking for players to return from them.
The guess among some GMs is that one factor in the injury epidemic could be more stringent drug testing, which eliminated one possible aid to get back onto the field faster. It's either that, or a lot of bad luck.
Here are the eye-opening figures for the disabled list (numbers given show the number of players on the disabled list on the first Friday of each season):
As of yesterday, that disabled list total was up to 122. Ouch.
The Cardinals and Rays lead their leagues with eight players apiece on the disabled list, with St. Louis having six pitchers alone on the list.
The Orioles and Yankees are next with seven players apiece on the DL, while the Braves, Tigers, Marlins, Mets and Padres each have six.
Around the Majors
Manny Ramirez recently told the Boston Herald he'd like to play six more years in Boston, then retire. Does he know something more than we know? Apparently not. The team holds options for 2009 and 2010 on him at $20 million apiece, options they are certain to exercise. If there's going to be an extension, though, there's no evidence the sides have spoken. Although, Red Sox assistant GM Jed Hoyer said, "We're thrilled he wants to stay.''
Francisco Cordero recently claimed the Brewers weren't aggressive enough going trying to keep him. But it's well known Milwaukee offered the closer $42 million over four years, which sounds pretty aggressive. And he can claim he didn't leave for the money. But a friend of his said his plan all along was to go to the highest bidder, which is what he did when he signed for $46 million with the Reds. Not that there's anything wrong with it.
Buck Showalter's reappearance on ESPN might make Indians manager Eric Wedge feel a tad better about his own job status. Showalter served the Indians for two years in an advisory role (read: manager in waiting). And he waited long enough.
Some guys just refuse to go on the disabled list. Jorge Posada and Tom Glavine are two of those guys. They have never been on the DL, and they appear to have avoided their first trip despite suffering injuries that surely would have pushed others to the DL. Glavine has a hamstring injury and Posada a shoulder injury.
Pedro Martinez's claim that he could be back pitching by late April seems pretty fanciful. He needs to start throwing first. June would seem to be a more likely bet than April.
Maybe the Mets should have waited on David Eckstein. They were annoyed Eckstein requested a $36 million, four-year contract, instead they thought they'd save $11 million and give a $25-million contract to Luis Castillo, who needed operations on both knees this winter. Eckstein wound up getting only a one year deal for $5 million from Toronto.
Congratulations to Jeff Idelson, who I remember starting in baseball as a PR man-in-training with the Yankees in the late '80s. That's a job that can prepare one for anything in life. And Idelson, 43, was just promoted to become president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, a big position indeed. And not an easy one, either. If Idelson thought dealing with George Steinbrenner was tough, my guess is that dealing with the likes of Joe Morgan, a Hall exec, is no picnic, either.