Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports interviewed Chipper Jones, asking him his thoughts on several topics, including the Braves’ fall from first place in the NL East. Jones took the opportunity to blame it on injuries, failing to realize that the first-place Phillies have had to overcome a multitude of injuries themselves.
Q: But what happens if you fail to make the playoffs? How disappointing will it be fall short in Cox’s final chance?
A: You’ve got to keep it all in perspective. If Medlen and I were healthy and we didn’t make it, that would be extremely disappointing, but it’s hard to overcome losing your No. 3 hitter and third baseman and one of your pitchers in the rotation, replace them with people in your organization and not have a little bit of a dip, not let it affect you.
Either way, it obviously would be disappointing. We’re a good enough team to represent our division and the National League in the playoffs, but you have that check in the back of your mind that says, “What would happen if I didn’t go down? If Medlen didn’t go down?”
It’s been a while since we last looked at how the injuries have been piling up for the Phillies, so let’s take a look.
The timeline (click to view a much larger version):
|Player||Absent||Injury||$/Gm||$ to Date||Injury Cost|
|Chase Utley||47||R Thumb Sprain||$92,593||$13.70 M||$4.35 M|
|Jimmy Rollins||66||R Calf Strain||$46,296||$6.85 M||$3.06 M|
|Brad Lidge||42||R Elbow Surgery/
|$70,988||$10.51 M||$2.98 M|
|Jamie Moyer||56||L Elbow UCL||$40,123||$5.94 M||$2.25 M|
|Ryan Howard||16||L Ankle||$117,284||$17.36 M||$1.88 M|
|Ryan Madson||63||R Big Toe Fracture||$27,778||$4.11 M||$1.75 M|
|Placido Polanco||19||L Elbow Bruise||$30,864||$4.57 M||$0.59 M|
|J.C. Romero||22||L Elbow Surgery||$24,691||$3.65 M||$0.54 M|
|Shane Victorino||13||R Abdominal Strain||$30,864||$4.57 M||$0.40 M|
|J.A. Happ||88||L Forearm Strain||$2,901||$0.43 M||$0.26 M|
|Chad Durbin||18||R Hamstring Strain||$13,117||$1.94 M||$0.24 M|
|Carlos Ruiz||20||Concussion||$11,728||$1.74 M||$0.23 M|
|Danys Baez||15||Back Spasms||$15,432||$2.28 M||$0.23 M|
|Joe Blanton||24||L Oblique Strain||$6,173||$0.91 M||$0.15 M|
|Ross Gload||17||Groin||$6,173||$0.91 M||$0.10 M|
|Brian Schneider||13||L Achilles Strain||$6,173||$0.91 M||$0.08 M|
|Antonio Bastardo||26||L Elbow Ulnar Neuritis||$2,500||$0.37 M||$0.07 M|
|Scott Mathieson||12||R Strained Lat Muscle||$2,469||$0.37 M||$0.03 M|
|Juan Castro||5||L Hamstring Strain||$4,321||$0.64 M||$0.02 M|
|TOTAL||582||$81.77 M||$19.20 M|
The above data in graph form (click to view a much larger version):
The Phillies have lost about $20 million in injuries, not even counting the non-DL days players took off (like Lidge Sept. 7-13 or Brown Sept. 7-17). Overall, 19 players have landed on the disabled list for a total of 582 days. Ten of the 19 have missed 20 games or more; six have missed at least 40 games. Six players’ injuries have cost the Phillies at least $1.75 million; three have cost the team $3 million or more.
Of the nearly $82 million the Phillies will have paid the 19 injured players, over $19 million has been lost to injury (23.5 percent). They opened the season with a $138 million payroll; the injuries represent about 14 percent of that.
Despite the host of injuries — including the simultaneous absence of the right side of the infield and #3-4 hitters — the Phillies sit in first place, 26 games above .500. They won 31 of 44 (.705) in August and September and finished out the month of July with six straight wins as well. The Braves have gone in the opposite direction.
While it’s certainly true that the Phillies have been playing over their heads and the Braves under theirs, the Braves have only themselves to blame for their struggles. Swapping Yunel Escobar for Alex Gonzalez was a loss in terms of production and expecting the oft-injured Derrek Lee and Rick Ankiel to provide an offensive boost was a fool’s errand. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro has outclassed Braves GM Frank Wren in terms of surrounding the core group of players with productive complimentary players. Having an extra $50 million will do that. But when payroll is that much smaller, player evaluation has to be that much better and for the Braves, it simply hasn’t been there.
Jones is wrong when he blames the Braves’ woes on injuries. If he would look up at the team in first place, he would realize that.