Ruben Amaro not worried about the Phillies' health, but he should be
The Phillies! That dandy ball team with the players who stay healthy, and when they don't, their comebacks are furious and not at all shrouded in mystery!
And after a horrid 2013, following an almost horrid 2012 and to be followed by a presumably still horrid 2014, there's no reason to think the core group of players won't be there - hopefully more than 80 or 90 steps of the way.
The year 2010, when the Phillies stomped the National League East and won it by six games, was the beginning of something far more sinister.
You see, in spring training of that year, the Mets were trying to lure in a fan base that wasn't getting enthused about the new year by watching Carlos Beltran get knee surgery or the team acquiring Jason Bay for four years.
They were not only explaining how this was the year (like the past two had been), but also how the Phillies had really achieved the success that eluded the Mets.
“The Phillies have done great, I understand,” Francoeur said. “But, God, they have not had the injury bug. Not one guy has been out the last two years. Bless them, I’m not praying for them to be hurt, that’s great. But you feel it’s got to kick up sometime.”
And in 2007 and 2008, when the Mets gasped and died very late and the Phillies went on to postseason glory or being swept by the Rockies, Francoeur was right: They were healthy and, like most teams, more effective when on the field.
Ryan Howard missed 18 games in 2007. He played in every game in 2008. Chase Utley missed 33 games in those two years, and didn't spend spring training making ambiguous statements about his knees. Carlos Ruiz got into 115 and 117 games, respectively, but his body takes far more of a beating than anybody else's, and he was splitting time with Chris Coste. Jimmy Rollins is actually the team's iron man, probably because of all that hustling he doesn't do.
But after Francoeur uttered that curse in 2010, a cold wind blew through Philadelphia, and wrecked everybody's knees and ACLs, limiting their time for the next 648 games.
Chase Utley: 432 games, 1,858 plate appearances
Ryan Howard: 446 games, 1,873 plate appearances
Carlos Ruiz: 459 games, 1,667, plate appearances
Jimmy Rollins: 546 games, 2,390 plate appearances
Then there's the Phillies' fifth starting position player since 2010:
Marlon Byrd: 465 games, 1,844 plate appearances
As for the other projected starters: Cody Asche is young, and born in the long summer. He will play in a league without home plate collisions. He is still able to do this with his body.
Domonic Brown suffered that broken hamate bone a while back, but in his first shot at a full season role he stuck it out for 139 games. And Ben Revere was just starting to get interesting when he foul balled his foot bone.
We can draw some things from this: (A.) Aging bodies in baseball are traditionally more susceptible to injury and/or missed time. (B.) Once more we see Rollins' problem isn't fragility. (C.) Francoeur won't keep his warlock powers a secret forever and one day, you'll all wish you'd listened to me.
So it seems unwise to put a lot of stock in the Phillies' health, as they have all entered the most injury-prone portions of their careers, especially if you're a team that is done making moves in December and still claims to be making a run for the postseason.
In fact, one could argue that a big reason the Phillies have not made the playoffs the past two years has been that key bats were missing from the lineup for long periods of time. There probably aren't many other teams whose general managers have to reassure the public that some of the players are still alive.
"...I think it's important for people to understand: Ryan Howard does still live. He exists. He's part of our club, OK? And he is one of the most important parts of our club. Guys like Ben Revere still exist. He does live. These are people who are on our club. So we have to hope they come and play to the level that we expect them to play."