Under The Knife 5/15/23
The last couple seasons haven’t had a lot of front office movement. James Click was stupidly let go and the Tigers made a change, but that’s functionally the list. Part of the issue is that “General Manager” isn’t the top dog any more. While Matt Arnold, Carter Hawkins, and Brandon Gomes got the title, the latter two aren’t the … let’s use the Hollywood term of showrunner for the guy who has the final say. And yes, I know that’s not always clear and is often very fluid.
As for the hot seat early this year, there’s plenty. People will say that Brian Cashman and Bill Schmidt are in some danger, but I don’t believe that’s the case at all and neither do most people inside baseball. Perry Minasian is an interesting case, as losing Shohei Ohtani isn’t going to be his fault. Actually, keeping Ohtani might put even more pressure on Minasian, but I think he gets a couple more years regardless.
The Cardinals will have to make a turnaround, but ownership there is very conservative in every sense of the word. Oliver Marmol is much more likely to go first and the Cards would have to finish way, way down to put John Mozeliak in any danger. Mike Rizzo is locked in, at least through a sale that has been much slower than expected. Even after, he’s likely to be kept on as a caretaker as the new owner looks around.
That means functionally, the only “real” hot seat guy might be Rick Hahn. Again, Jerry Reinsdorf has been loyal to his guys, to a fault, and that’s hamstrung and helped Hahn equally. The team doesn’t necessarily have to win the World Series for the seat to cool off, but missing the playoffs and not looking like the team is going to have a short term improvement might just be enough at the end of the season.
Regardless, it’s clear that the talent just off-stage and waiting their chance (or their next chance) is likely to have another season of waiting. Guys like James Click, Jon Daniels, Matt Kleine, Michael Groopman, and Sara Goodrum don’t appear to have a ton of openings for them, just yet.
For now, on to the injuries:
RYAN FELTNER, RP COL (fractured skull)
I don’t know what to do with a second skull fracture in the space of a week. Another pitcher, Ryan Feltner of the Rockies, was hit in the head with a liner and has a skull fracture. Say what you will about this not being life-threatening, but two in the space of a week tells me something has changed. Maybe it’s not more balls up the middle, but an inability to field the hard hit liners. I don’t know, but while I can riff on #paddedgloves for years, knowing that the worst that can happen is a broken hand and a lesson learned (or often unlearned), I can’t with this.
Just as with Ryan Yarbrough, the skull fracture itself is not life threatening. Serious, yes, but his brain is intact aside from the expected concussion. I’m a bit surprised that one of the things that Bud Black said was that Feltner was texting with teammates. Screens aren’t great for concussions, so either that’s a sign that the concussion is minor or that MLB players get a bit more leeway while under observation. Word as of Monday morning is that Feltner was discharged from the hospital and is in no danger. He is on the IL and will need to show near-complete healing before a return. One can only hope that Feltner will be wearing some kind of head protection as well. With two in a week, every MLB pitcher should be considering it strongly, before we have a third.
DREW RASMUSSEN, SP TBR (strained forearm)
The Rays only appear to have an endless supply of pitchers. Eventually, it will run out, or at least run out of ready pitchers. Losing Drew Rasmussen, who immediately went to the 60-day IL and an eight week shutdown, is a tough blow. Rasmussen has a significant flexor strain and there’s rumblings that there’s more issues inside the elbow as well.
For Rasmussen, there’s little to do but wait. The eight weeks is a seemingly odd point, but is at the exact spot where surgery would allow the rehab to have him back for 2024, so I think that’s more a line in the sand to see how it’s healing than any real timeline. That would means it’s still on the board, even likely, which would be a blow. There’s also a point to watch in a couple weeks, where the followup images can show UCL damage more clearly. We’ve seen that a number of times in the last couple years.
The Rays should get Tyler Glasnow back imminently from his oblique strain, filling the gap, but not jumping the rotation up. Even with the record, the Rays have lost Rasmussen, Jeffrey Springs, and Shane Baz, which is a lot of quality that won’t be there for the bulk of the season and into the playoffs. They do also get Pete Fairbanks back, showing they can maintain and return some injuries.
Let’s say that all this is system, and not that the Rays acquire players with singular skills and the lack of durability is the price they pay for being acquirable or available. Even in that case, the trade between skill and durability is a tough one for a team like the Rays. They’ve been able to keep injuries low enough and to spread the stacks enough that it hasn’t cost them too much to make the playoffs, which is their sole goal. In that case, the depth is a systemic need and preventing injuries has a threshold. It’s a hard truth, if that’s the case, but the record speaks for itself. The downside is, there’s an easy path to improvement by simply finding some additional prevention with a bit more spending.
MAX SCHERZER, SP NYM (strained neck/shoulder)