Update: 3/6/08: The Yankees Team Health Report is now up on BP. Giambi has been changed to a red (probably because the Yankees have been playing him in the field and intend to do so in the regular season).
Here is what Will has to say about Joba (this will be the only sample I will provide, as it is paid content):
Original post follows:
RP Joba Chamberlain : I still don't believe that they'll send him to the minors to “stretch him out.” Maybe the Yanks will stick to the plan and maybe it will work. It's at least a plan, which is more than most teams with talented young pitchers have. I have no idea if it will work. If he were to stay in the pen all year, he's a very low yellow.
Will Carroll has a fancy system of deciphering different player's injury risk each season. For example, Will says:
He hasn't written his column on the Yankees yet, but the spreadsheet has been released for the starters.
Each of the players in my system gets a rating: red, yellow or green. Unless you're color blind, these are easy to understand and since I live in Indianapolis, the auto-racing analogy is one I tend to fall back on. Underlying these simple colors are actually a band of probabilities, chances that each player sees an injury that lands him on the disabled list. A simple 15-day visit for a strained eyelid or a season-ending shoulder injury both "count" and there's no differentiation. For each player, there's always some level of risk. One never knows when Prince Fielder is going to run someone over at home. Red, the worst rating, is just short of a coinflip. For these players, the best possible rating is a 45% chance of being injured. If you're a glass half-full type, that's a 55% chance at health. You just have to hold your breath all season long that Jonathan Papelbon's shoulder holds up, that Brian Giles' knee responds to microfracture surgery, or maybe that Joba Chamberlain's usage pattern will keep him from following Kerry Wood's path to pain.
In the green:
Robinson Cano Derek Jeter Alex Rodriguez Melky Cabrera
In the yellow:
Jason Giambi Jorge Posada Johnny Damon Hideki Matsui Andy Pettitte Chien Ming Wang Mike Mussina Ian Kennedy
In the red:
Phil Hughes Joba Chamberlain Mariano Rivera
Uh-oh. I think it is the biggest fear of most Yankee fans that Hughes and/or Joba get hurt for an extended period of time this year. Obviously, this is FAR from a perfect system. As Will Carroll readily admits:
Throwing Mariano in there is just another slap in the face. I'd say the Yankees can least afford for those guys to go down due to the importance of pitching.
It serves as a reminder that these ratings are only probabilities. Just as you or I could walk outside the house and get hit by a bus, the greenest of green ratings isn't going to help if Prince Fielder crashes into you on the basepath.
With more data behind the scenes--five years of injury data plus the continual improvements to PECOTA--the system is getting more accurate. It will never be perfect and I'll never stop tweaking it, but we are rapidly approaching the point where the gains will be smaller.
I was thinking recently about how SOME injuries are simply inevitable. The pessimistic side of me has been thinking "who will be the first Yankee to miss time due to an injury in 2008?" So, who do you think it will be? Why not discuss it at the NYY Stadium Insider forums?
Will Carroll does MLB team health reports for every team in baseball. The team with the most "red" players (highest injury risk) in the AL East is the Toronto Blue Jays with a whopping 9 players as high injury risks. The Red Sox have 3 including golden boys Elisbury and Buckholz. That should make you all feel better about Joba and Phil's red status.
Just some food for thought on these last day before Spring Training games begin...