Most baseball fans in America, certainly those in New York, are convinced they could be the general manager of a baseball team. Makes trades, select rosters, watch prospects. It looks pretty easy from afar.
But the most difficult decisions have very little to do with the game on the field. Take what has happened to the Yankees this season.
They are 28 games into the season and here is their list of injuries:
Andy Pettitte (back spasms, spring training)
Jorge Posada (right shoulder strain, April 1)
Derek Jeter (left quad strain on April 7)
Jason Giambi (left groin strain, April 5)
Jose Molina (left hamstring, April 13)
Wilson Betemit (eye infection, April 14)
Alex Rodriguez (right quad strain April 20)
Joba Chamberlain (left hamstring, April 24)
Brian Bruney (right foot fracture, April 24)
To me, the hardest thing for a GM is to decide what to do with injured players. You talk to the player, his agent, your doctor, his doctor and the manager then decide whether to put the player on the disabled list or play short-handed for a day or two … or six or seven.
The Yankees did the exact right thing with Pettitte by placing him on the disabled list to start the season. He came back strong and has pitched well.
But Bruney was on the active roster for a day with a broken foot. His lisfranc fracture wasn’t picked up until he saw a specialist.
Posada spent three weeks in limbo. Out for three days, available for a few days, out for a few days, DH for a few days, etc. Then finally the pain got to be too much and he shut it down. In retrospect, the situation wasn’t handled well.
Jeter sat for six days with his injury and has been fine since he came back. But A-Rod sat for only three days with his then re-injured it when he came back. On Monday night, videotape shows him limping in the fourth inning while running to first. But he stayed in the game and ran the bases in the sixth.
Joe Girardi is the team official closest to the players, so his counsel has to be relied on. The trainers as well. Team doctor Stuart Hershon is a key figure in the mix.
Some of it is just plain good luck or bad luck. But the Yankees never seem to have much good luck with this stuff.
Cashman has done a great job of reorganizing how the Yankees scout and develop players. Maybe the next thing to do is look into how they take care of them.