Over at Baseball Prospectus, injury guru Will Carroll has been running his Team Health Reports for all 30 big league teams. A couple of weeks ago he posted the Mets report, which features an awful lot of red lights. In case you're wondering, the THRs are system-generated based on historical injury data, playing time, etc., and aren't just the result of Will pulling a player's name out of one hat and a colored token out of another. You can read more about the latest iteration of the THR system in this post.
I asked Will a few follow-up questions about the Mets' Team Health Report.
Were there any surprises here for the Mets? With few exceptions, the old guys are red and the young guys are green.
I think that's oversimplifying. Age is a poor proxy for injury risk. I think that Jose Reyes is so solidly green is a bit surprising, thinking back to where we started. I'm a bit surprised that Beltran is green as well. I think there's more risk here than most realize.
Ramon Castro has been an injury machine (if that even makes sense) since signing with the Mets. What did the THR system say about him, if anything?
Nothing. It takes too long to do everyone since much of the data entry is by hand, so backups don't make it in. You're right, he's always been injured, but I think the expectation is that being a backup would keep him healthier. Doesn't seem the case, so given that value, I wonder why he's still around. If nothing else, it would reduce the workload on the medical staff. A guy that would kind of make sense is Gregg Zaun, once Matt Wieters is up.
Injuries cost the Mets $34 million in 2008 and quite possibly a playoff appearance. Do you think the injuries they incurred were calculated risks on the part of management, a misunderstanding of those known risks, or just bad luck (i.e. "baseball")?
I think most of them could have been anticipated. Wagner's arm is probably the biggest one. Maine's elbow. Beltran's knees. Alou's ... everything? I think they took some gambles, but it doesnt seem like they had solid Plan B's for those, save Alou [ed. note: exactly! zero contingency was the problem].
What is the primary function of a head trainer? What distinguishes a good head trainer from a bad one?
The Head Trainer runs the show. He manages injuries, runs the Training Room, serves as a Father Confessor to most of the players, advises the GM and Mgr about who's able or not able, gives estimates on how long someone will be out, schedules things with the doctors, follows up on doctor's orders, manages the rehab, manages the Asst Trainers, rehab staff, allied staff ... it's easily an 18 hour a day job. There are no bad ones, at least not for long, and results are the difference.