Sarge Is Awesome [.gifs]

Just a warning to you low-bandwidth, slow-computer people: there will be many .gifs after the jump, so don’t click through if you can’t handle it.

Staked to a four-run lead, the New York Mets wanted to get Mike Pelfrey through the bottom of the sixth inning as he was at the end of his rope, throwing over 120 pitches. With two outs and the bases empty, he had to get past Placido Polanco before hitting the showers. Polanco, as he always does, worked the count well, fouling a few pitches off and getting to 2-2. Pelfrey decided to throw him an inside slider, but went a bit too far inside, nearly hitting Polanco. Those of us watching on TV wondered if the ball grazed his uniform, but alas, it did not. 3-2 count.

Pelfrey then started jawing at Polanco for seemingly no reason. Broadcaster Tom McCarthy speculated that it was because Pelfrey thought Polanco was trying to lean into the pitch to get a free trip to first base. Polanco was as surprised as anybody to hear the criticism. The .gifs show this story unfolding in hilarious fashion. Click the link to watch the scene.

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The Cost of Injuries

Last year, one of the more popular recurring articles here was the accounting of the Phillies’ various injuries. If you can recall, the Phillies were absolutely ravaged by them last year; in fact, the only regular position players not to miss time due to an injury were Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez. This year is a different story. While the Phillies have had to deal with injuries, the effect has not been felt nearly as much on account of the extreme amount of success they have enjoyed throughout the season. After 128 games last year, the Phillies were 71-57, two games behind in second place. This year, they are 83-45, six games ahead in first place.

The Phillies’ WPHL broadcast posted this interesting graphic in the opener on Tuesday, detailing the long list of injuries suffered this year:

For those keeping score at home, that is 15 different players losing time to injury.

Using information from Cot’s Contracts, we are able to find out how much the injuries are costing the Phillies. Below is a table with the totals and a graph to put it in perspective.

Player Absent $/Gm $ to Date Cost
Lidge 100 $70,988 $9.09M $7.10M
Oswalt 56 $98,765 $12.64M $5.53M
Blanton 100 $52,469 $6.72M $5.25M
Utley 46 $92,593 $11.85M $4.26M
Contreras 111 $15,432 $1.98M $1.71M
Victorino 26 $46,296 $5.93M $1.20M
Polanco 33 $32,407 $4.15M $1.07M
Madson 20 $27,778 $3.56M $0.56M
Schneider 41 $9,259 $1.19M $0.38M
Ruiz 13 $16,975 $2.17M $0.22M
Rollins 3 $52,469 $6.72M $0.16M
Hamels 2 $58,642 $7.51M $0.12M
Romero 14 $8,333 $1.07M $0.12M
Brown 44 $2,556 $0.33M $0.11M

(click to enlarge)

Players listed as day-to-day were excluded, as was Brian Bocock.

The 14 players above have combined for nearly $28 million in missed time, not including the pro-rated salaries of the players who were added to the 25-man roster as replacements, such as Dane Sardinha, Pete Orr, Mike Zagurski, and Juan Perez.

Compared to mid-September last year, the Phillies have actually had more money spent on injured players, even though fewer players have been injured. On September 18, 2010, injuries had cost the Phillies $19.2 million on 582 DL-days. This year, $27.8 million has spent spent on 609 DL-days. Additionally, only one player had spent 70 or more days on the DL — J.A. Happ, 88 days — while three have done so this year. In fact, three players have lost 100 or more days to the DL: Brad Lidge and Joe Blanton with 100, and Jose Contreras with 111.

What is important to note is that the Phillies’ injuries in 2011 have targeted mostly non-essential players. Brad Lidge was, at best, a #3 on the Phillies’ bullpen depth chart going into the season. Roy Oswalt was #4 in the rotation behind Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels; Joe Blanton was #5. At various points last year, the Phillies went without half or more of their starting infield. As an example, when Halladay threw his perfect game against the Florida Marlins on May 29, 2010, Wilson Valdez started at shortstop and Juan Castro started at third base.

Overall, injuries this year haven’t had much of an effect on the Phillies’ ability to perform. Not only have they had significantly more breathing room, but they have had their optimal lineup (or close to it), both in terms of offense and pitching, for much of the season. The Phillies may have lost more in salary, but this year’s injury bug is not nearly as threatening.