Monday, March 11, 2013

Their Achilles Heel

For a while, I’ve been assuming that the Sox medical staff is doing this on purpose. Nobody could blow time frames that poorly.

When it took Manny too long to come back from a sore throat, maybe he was milking it a bit. Maybe JD Drew was susceptible to stiff necks. Maybe Ellsbury took too long to heal a broken rib. But, then Pedroia took forever to heal his foot. And Ellsbury had a shoulder keep him out for a year. Crawford took an eternity to come back from a sore wrist. Finally, David Ortiz missed a half season with a 7-10 day achilles injury. Could they really be that bad?

I was convinced that they couldn’t be. They must be doing this on purpose. Obviously, there’s a method to their madness.

Maybe they want to gain a competitive edge. Maybe it’s like the Patriots listing Tom Brady on every injury report. It does the Red Sox no good to tell the world exactly how long a player will be out. What if the Sox decide they need to trade for someone to replace Ellsbury if he’s going to be out all year? They certainly wouldn’t want the rest of the league to know that. They’d want the rest of the league to think they’re just casually looking for some extra help. No rush, just looking for a good deal. That makes sense. Right? Or, maybe they want the opposing manager to wonder if the player really might come back. Sure, if they’re on the DL that’s one thing. But, if a “sore hammy” drags on and on, doesn’t that leave the opposing manager guessing? Is a manager reluctant to make a move if Ellsbury might actually be available to pinch run after all? Wouldn’t that make sense? Isn’t it worth misleading the fans to accomplish that? I had convinced myself that’s what they felt.

Or, maybe misleading the fans was the whole point. Maybe I don’t buy tickets for last September if I know Ortiz won’t be playing. Maybe they were fooling us. Maybe it’s that sinister.

But, then we get to Ortiz and his ankles. They just signed him to a two-year deal, despite missing the end of last season with an ankle problem. Wouldn’t you have to assume that they felt they were getting two years out of him? Wouldn’t the medical staff have had to give the approval before guaranteeing the second year? Wouldn’t it show that maybe I was giving them too much credit? Maybe they don’t know what they’re doing?

Or, is it a case of a pure PR move? Reminds me a bit of the last Curt Schilling contract. Maybe the Sox felt it was worth the millions to have Ortiz around. After all, his contract was cheaper than Victorino’s. Maybe he was signed just to appear in all those commercials. More of an endorsement deal than an actual player contract. After all, the deal doesn’t hurt the team if he doesn’t play. If he spends all year on the DL, but can make it to charity events, maybe the team considers that a good deal. They can just find someone else to fill his spot on the roster. Maybe once again, it’s not the medical staff being wrong. It’s just a careful release of information?

So, which is it?

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