Posted by: Nate | February 7, 2008

Schilling Injured, Possibly Facing Surgery

It is being reported this afternoon by both The Boston Globe and The Boston Herald that Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling has sustained a significant shoulder injury and will not be able to start Spring Training on time. According to the Herald:

“While the precise nature of Schilling’s injury is not known, it is believed that the right-hander is suffering from an injury to the rotator cuff and/or labrum that might require surgery. It is possible that the sides disagree on how to treat Schilling’s ailment and that a course of treatment, too, is a part of their disagreement. “

The disagreement on treatment is one of the main causes of friction between Schilling and the team. The other is that is is being suggested that Red Sox officials are looking to void Schilling’s one year, $8 million dollar contract in light of the injury or at least recoup some of the salary. As you may recall, ‘Schilling did not pitch between June 18 and Aug. 6 of last season when he was on the disabled list with a right shoulder ailment. At the time, the problems were believed to be related to tendinitis and general fatigue,’  according to the Herald article. Additionally, ‘if Schilling has surgery on his shoulder, it is almost certain that he would be unable to pitch this season.’

Assuming that the injury is as serious as implicated it is safe to assume that Schilling will either be done for the season, or at least a significant part of it with his effectiveness in question upon his return. At his age with an injury to the rotator cuff and/or labrum a full comeback seems unlikely. What then are the implications for the Sox?

Initial reaction would be simply to have Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz move up one slot apiece in the rotation and the problem is solved. This seems highly unlikely, especially given that Buchholz is a rookie who is looking at an innings cap of around 180 this season. Presuming the team would like to have him available for the post-season this year, and that Jon Lester will also be working on his first full season in the majors, dividing up the extra workload that Schilling would have had (roughly 180-200 innings assuming almost a full season) seems like the wrong move.

I think the most likely option is one of the following two scenarios. Either using the five man rotation of Beckett, Matsuzaka, Wakefield, Lester, Buchholz to start the season and then skipping the younger guys turn in the rotation a few times over the course of the season and using someone like Julian Tavarez for a spot start. This gives everyone a defined role, gives Lester and Clay the opportunity to get fairly regular starts and also gives Tavarez more of a role outside of mop up man. Additionally, you can use some of the minor league pitchers we have to take some starts away from Lester and Buchholz and give them an opportunity to showcase their stuff at the ML level [lest we forget Devern Hansack’s 5 inning no hitter]. The only issue here is that the roster doesn’t currently have too many guys with minor league options so shuffling players up and down from AAA may not be as easy as it has been in past years.

The second option is that now that Sean Casey and Bobby Kielty are part of the club as back up infielder and outfielder respectively, you can try and package Coco Crisp with some lower minors talent to get a mid to back end of the rotation starter. Joe Blanton is supposedly available from Oakland, and given the sluggish nature of the Bedard talks, maybe he could be available if the price was right.

We’ll see what direction the Sox head if this needs to be addressed and naturally stay tuned to 207prospectus for more news on the situation.

Herald link: http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/baseball/red_sox/view.bg?articleid=1071967

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Responses

  1. That is some pretty weak sauce. Too bad for big schill.

    Picking up Bedard is pretty interesting. The patchwork rotation of rookies seems sketchy. I trust in Tavarez, but look at what happened to the Yankees last year. They had similar issues and they just sucked the first half of the season.

  2. I honestly have a lot more faith in Lester and Buchholz than I do in Tavarez. Not only are their ceilings higher as pitchers, but their careers are just getting started while Julian’s is winding down.
    With this unfortunate injury we are going to have to rely on him as a starter as well this year because the Sox front office is not going to take the reins of of Buchholz no matter what. His long term development and value to the team is much too important to jeopardize a Liriano-esque injury to him.

    Hopefully the supposedly rejuvenated Manny, as well as a rebound from Lugo and Drew offensively can make up for the inevitable regression of Lowell and the loss of Schilling. Time will tell.


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