Thursday, March 24, 2011

Do Spring Injuries Dilute Opening Day?

I think its pretty obvious that in my mosaic above, The Joker (oh, that's Scott Downs? Holy Shit, Batman...) is the least important of the injuries above, but this is an Angels Blog, and he is an Angels player, and I like to keep things relative. That being said, this has been a tough Spring for some of the favorites to win it all (or at least some) this year.

Zack Greinke and Adam Wainwright, two NL Central Ace's, went down this spring, and while the Brewers (who just traded for Greinke in the offseason) are only going to miss about a month of their star pitcher, the Cardinals are going to lose Wainwright for likely the entirety of the 2011 season. These two looked to solidify the NL Central as one of the most competitive divisions in baseball, and while it still likely will be, this give the Reds a ton of room to sneak back into the discussion. If Greinke can bounce back and pitch like a Cy Young Caliber player, I still think the Brewers are the best bet, but if not... the Central is wide open.

In what seems to be an epidemic, strained obliques have put the Opening Day statuses of Yankees Outfield Curtis Granderson and Giants Closer (and Facial Hair Messiah) Brain Wilson into considerable doubt. Its just a precautionary step, but Wilson had his bullpen session yesterday cut short, and the team announced that he is doubtful for Opening Day. Similar reports are coming from Yankees camp regarding Granderson.

A little closer to home, the Angels are currently looking at two (possibly three) everyday starters beginning the season on the Disabled List. Kendrys Morales, who of course is still nursing that leg he broke into a million pieces back in May. Also on that list are guys who hurt themselves during Spring, Joel Pineiro and Scott Downs. It would seem that Pineiro would return very shortly into the season (a week or so), but Scott Downs is going to be out as long as it takes for his broken toe to heal. The toe he broke playing with his kids (great start to your Angel career, Scott).

In the case of the Angels, some of the setbacks are almost welcome, in the sense that we get to see Mark Trumbo face big league pitching to start the season, and it will continue the tale of Brandon Wood's heroic comeback. Don't get me wrong, I can't wait for Kendrys to get back, but Trumbo is going to be a ton of fun to follow for the first month or so of the season. However, losing Downs to start the year is going to hurt an already thin bullpen, and god forbid Scott Kazmir start the season as horrendously as he ended 2010 and we have to move Takahashi to the Rotation.

I suppose my whole point of this article was "Do we really need 6 weeks of Spring Training?" It seems like right now, most players are ready for the season to start, and those who aren't, well, maybe they should re-evaluate their offseason routine. I'm all for watching a few innings of meaningless baseball for a couple days in March, and seeing some of the prospects face big-league pitchers is a fun distraction, but half those kids have already been sent packing back to the minors, and the other half are going soon. I like Spring Training as much as the next guy, but it seems like its been over-saturated, and cutting a week or two off could help put an end to some of these meaningless spring injuries that kinda put a wet blanket over the festivities of Opening Day.


Coming Tomorrow: Part 1 of the 10 Greatest Seasons in Angels History

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