The Spring Training Injury Bug has arrived and it’s suspiciously attacked mainly National League teams. While there are many players in the majors right now who are recovering from previous injuries or who will miss all of 2016, there are some who just recently went down and leave their teams in precarious positions. It’s too early for most teams to make significant trades and too late to sign most impactful free agents. Here are the biggest holes from spring training injuries and their realistic solutions:
Jhonny Peralta – Cardinals (SS):
Peralta went down this March with a thumb injury requiring surgery which could sideline him until around the All Star Break. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, it’s the same injury cornerstone catcher, Yadier Molina, is trying to recover in time from by Opening Day. While the locker room may be down on “players capable of giving a thumbs up” the bigger problem is replacing Peralta for an extended period of time. Jedd Gyorko, he of a .247/.297 slash line with 16 home runs is perfectly good for a major league roster, but a premiere and playoff contending franchise like the Cardinals may not prefer that offense for a guy who has played 29 major league games at shortstop to underwhelming reviews. Other options?
Possibly Pete Kozma, who is currently scheduled for AAA Scranton with the Yankees as the only major league shortstop depth the team has who is major league ready and not already on the major league roster. While New York has multiple players in Didi Gregorius, Starlin Castro and possibly Dustin Ackley who can play shortstop in the big leagues, it may not be keen on parting with its only veteran depth in the minors. Especially since Castro moving over to short would mean a hole at second base and Ackley moving to short would severely cut down on the team’s defensive flexibility.
Still, for the right price, Kozma isn’t going to be untouchable by any means and the Cards may prefer a familiar face, even if he may not be a significant upgrade.
Carter Capps-Marlins (CL):
The funky throwing power arm in Miami may have been the Marlins’ future out of the closer’s role but instead will miss the entire 2016 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on Tuesday. It’s unclear whether or not the Marlins can contend in 2016, but there’s enough upside to fight for third place and a potential second wildcard spot out of the NL East where the team should be aggressive in replacing Capp’s bullpen depth. Capps pitched to a 1.16 ERA in 2016, lunging at players with his delivery to the tune of a 0.83 WHIP in 38 innings.
Seeing as it’s the Marlins and it’s early March, the Marlins will likely stay internal. AJ Ramos, if he wasn’t already, will close and the team will look internally to fill this role. Still a rough blow for a franchise which will need most things to go right (especially with health to players like Jose Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton) in order to turn last year’s fortunes around and into a successful 2016 campaign.
Aaron Altherr – Phillies – OF
Altherr looked like a lock to begin the season with the rebuilding Phillies, but the 25-year-old centerfielder will instead miss six months -and likely all of the 2016 season – with a wrist injury requiring surgery. Philadelphia’s next likely target was Cody Asche, who transitioned from third base to the outfield last season, but he may not be ready b by Opening Day with his own slowly healing oblique injury. Asche is likely to start the year on the DL leaving room for someone like rule 5 pick, Tyler Goeddel, to throw his hat in the mix and make the team.
For a rebuilding Phillies’ team, Altherr’s .241/.338 line with 20 extra base hits and six stolen bases in 137 at bats, would have been suitable for a starting job. The .827 OPS for a rebuilding team is not crucial to fill in 2016 and the Phillies will likely just open up more playing time for younger players.