Under The Knife 8/10/22
Forgetting The Lottery
Two errata notes: I made an error on how Travis d’Arnaud was injured. I originally wrote it was on a foul, instead of the actual which happened on a slide. I can’t correct things that go out via email, but I do correct them on the website when I screw up.
Also, I talked about a team tanking to win the “Max Clark lottery” without remembering there is in fact a lottery, starting this off-season. It was part of the new CBA signed in the spring and makes the Max Clark lottery an actual lottery. I’m not sure when the lottery will take place, but I will suggest it happen moments before the draft. Make those first six teams not know until they’re on the clock. Better yet - make the clock short — one minute max. Imagine the drama as the GM sitting on stage has to look down his pref sheet and make a decision on TV. I’m not sure if that would make pre-draft deals more likely, or less, but it would make the MLB Draft more interesting and they need it. Moving it back to get it more visibility is nice (though hard on staffs) but actually creating huge drama would help more. Anyway, let’s get to the injuries:
MATT CARPENTER, 2B/DH NYY (fractured foot)
Anything can happen in baseball. You can calculate the odds, but sometimes, the coin flips heads ten times, the ball goes into red on a streak, and those pocket aces get beat on the river. One of the times I learned this was when Manny Ramirez was out and Juan Pierre replaced him, then promptly went on a heater like few have ever seen.
At least that’s how I remember it, so I went to Baseball-Reference (#FormanforHOF). From May 7th, when Ramirez was suspended, to the end of May, Pierre slashed 374/438/496 against a career of 295/343/361 . Now, what I didn’t remember is Pierre was hitting 355 up to that point, with the suspension giving him more regular time. Still, he was well above his career averages and for the next 50 games, he was more valuable than Manny Ramirez had been. No one’s arguing that Pierre was a better hitter, even at that stage, but as I said, anything can happen.
Matt Carpenter has been on that kind of heater since joining the Yankees. He was a castoff by the Cardinals and has stepped in to something of a positionless role that the Cards saw as a negative. After two seasons below the Mendoza, Carpenter suddenly figured something out - and someone, please tell me what the Yankees found and how they did it where the Cards could not - and is hitting above every career level.
Until he fouled a ball off his foot and broke it. Padded shoe? Well, watch:
Carpenter wears a guard on his lead foot, though it does not cover his foot. The back foot, as with most, is completely exposed and took the full force of the foul ball. And no gloves? Ok, Matt Carpenter, whatever works, until it doesn’t.
The fractured bone is in his mid-foot and may require surgery. Regardless, he’s out for six to eight weeks which is pretty close to exactly the remainder of the regular season and into the playoffs if it goes to the long end. Could Carpenter return and jump back on the roster? I think it comes down to who replaces him and how that person is hitting at the time. Carpenter will be able to rehab at the Yankees’ complex, but his magical, improbable season is likely over.
GIANCARLO STANTON, DH NYY (Achilles tendinitis/fatigue)
The Yankees should be getting Giancarlo Stanton back soon. I say should because who knows, maybe he fouls a ball off his foot in the cage or rides a bike with his family in the next week. Writing about injuries is sometimes dark and negative, even with something simple and manageable like sore legs and some tendinitis.
The question now is how far this extends and if Stanton needs a rehab assignment. The question tells us that Stanton hasn’t been able to do much while the legs healed up, perhaps not getting in the cage at all. Even with that, you’d doubt Stanton needs to change much. See some pitches, get some confidence in having a stable base, then going out and doing what he does, though perhaps I put less emphasis on his skill versus his physicality.
I also think the delay has something to do with the Yankees philosophy. Their medical staff in the last few years has been more conservative and clearly focused on the longer term, even if that costs games and days. I think some of this is data and being best-practiced, but it’s also a simple philosophy, one that gets listened to in most cases rather than being pushed or overruled. I don’t think Stanton is going to be out that much longer than the minimum, but I think he’ll be ready when he does return.