by Daniel Gettinger
When word broke a few days ago that Jake Peavy would miss some time with an ankle injury, I was not happy, yet for some reason not too concerned. I just assumed that since he had been pitching on the injured ankle, he would take a month off as a precautionary measure, and then return to full health in time to be traded to a contender. After reading Will Carroll’s take on the situation, labeling my assumption “false optimism” would be an understatement:
Jake Peavy (90 DXL)
For all intents and purposes, Peavy is done for the season. Yes, that statement is a little provocative, but in analyzing his ankle injury, I’m led to that conclusion via several routes. First, the injury itself is very significant, a Grade II tear of his posterior tibialis tendon that was severe enough to require a cast. When I first heard this, I expected it to be an old term that we still use for something else, like saying “I’m taping the game” when I’m actually using TiVo. No, this wasn’t an aircast or a walking boot; this was the old-style hard cast, designed to keep Peavy from putting any weight at all on the ankle, and forcing him to rest. He’ll have that cast on for the better part of a month, which takes us past the All-Star break. At that point, he’ll then be out of the cast, but hardly out of the woods. The posterior tibialis is, like most tendons, slow-healing, and when walking, the tendon is taxed on each and every step. At best, he’d miss another month, and that’s not including the time necessary to get his arm back in order. This best-case scenario has the Padres‘ ace back by mid-August. Even a slight setback or push from the best-case scenario puts him dangerously close to September; at that stage the Padres will have to decide if getting him back is worth it, or if allowing him to rest more to be fully healed by spring training is the wiser course. As usual with situations like this, the standings will have a lot to do with it. If the Padres were a couple of games out, Peavy—even at less than 100 percent—could make a difference of a game or two. (I don’t mean this in a VORP/WARP context, but rather in much the same way that pushing CC Sabathia out on short rest worked for the Brewers last season.) I’m not laying bets on the Pads being in this position, so the smart play would be to shut him down or to just have make a cameo “OK, the ankle’s fine” appearance. In other words, while he may play, the chance of him accumulating significant innings or fantasy stats is very low, and moreover, the risk/reward for the Padres is way out of balance.
***Note: The full article is much longer, and behind a paywall. I probably should not have clipped even this much, but hopefully I will not get in too much trouble.
Wow. Out for the season is a much different scenario than “out for four weeks.” Peavy would obviously not be able to the help the Padres win games this season, but more importantly, a season ending injury rules out a trade to a contending team. Not good.
This situation serves as a reminder for why small to mid market teams should not allow one player to comprise a large proportion of their payroll. (Particularly a high effort pitcher). One injury to that player, and the team is severely affected. Both on the field, and in terms of its flexibility to make other moves.
Carroll’s take on the situation might be entirely off base. He has not examined Peavy personally, nor does he have his medical records. Carroll is actually not even a doctor. But he seems to know his stuff, and he has a pretty decent track record of assessing the seriousness of sports injuries. I am still hopeful Peavy can return prior to July 31, but now realize that is not at all likely. Peavy may be out for the year.