ESPN’s Adam Rubin stirred up a hornet’s nest yesterday with a series of tweets chronicling the alleged mishandling of Mets injuries over the past few years by the organization. Was he right to do so? Are his allegations fair, and how accurate are they?
Every team in every sport deals with injured players. It’s a fait accompli in the era of athletes with more developed, and tighter, muscles (no one ever heard of an oblique strain until pumping iron became commonplace in sports like baseball).
In the late Aughts through 2011, however, the Mets had an unusual and excessive amount of injured players. Misfortune and coincidence only go so far when year after year, key players get injured:
- 2006: Pedro Martinez, Orlando Hernandez, and Duaner Sanchez - You can chalk up the first two pitchers to age, and Sanchez to a freak accident. Or, was it that the Mets shouldn’t have signed the old pitchers in the first place, or handled them more carefully once they did. And Sanchez re-injured his shoulder when the Mets allowed him to begin throwing early in 2007 – did they rush him back?
- 2007: Pedro Martinez, continued and Moises Alou - The Mets signed Alou before the 2007 season, despite the fact that he had a widespread reputation for frequent injury.
- 2008: Billy Wagner, Moises Alou again, Luis Castillo, El Duque again, and Ryan Church - ’08 was the beginning of the flood. The loss of Wagner was a major reason for The Collapse II – the mishandling of his injury was prominently featured in Rubin’s tweets. But the most heinous of these was the way the organization dealt with Church’s concussion. We didn’t need Rubin to fill us in on this, we knew at the time that he was brought back too early, while he was still showing signs of his concussion. What effect did this have on the rest of his career, and what effect will this have on his long-term health? We can only hope for the best for Church.
- 2009: Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes, J.J. Putz, and Wagner, continued - This is when the dam broke. Delgado and Beltran got off to hot starts in Citi Field’s inaugural season, but both broke down early on. The Mets signed Putz knowing that he had a bone spur in his throwing elbow, and left it untreated, which led to a season-ending injury. Rubin tweeted more details about this yesterday, along with allegations about the handling of Wagner and Reyes.
- 2010: Beltran and Delgado, continued, Jason Bay, Rod Barajas, Johan Santana, and Jose Reyes - Beltran returned after the All-Star Break, Delgado remained out for the entire season. Reyes recovered from his hamstring injury, but missed the early part of the season with a thyroid injury. Bay suffered a concussion crashing into Dodger Stadium’s left-field fence, and missed the rest of the year – at least the team handled that one correctly.
- 2011: Ike Davis, David Wright, Daniel Murphy, Santana, continued, and Reyes - The injuries continued in the Alderson/Collins era. Oddly enough, the one Met who stayed healthy was Beltran, who was traded at the deadline. While the others might be a result of bad luck, Davis’s ankle injury was mishandled. After a great start to the season, he collided with Wright pursuing a pop-up. His injury was apparently misdiagnosed as a fracture of the bone, while Rubin reports it was actually cartilage damage all along. Whatever the details, it should not have been a season-ending injury. If the injury were handled correctly, Davis would have been back in the Mets’ lineup in ’11. Wright, meanwhile, played with a fractured vertebrae for at least a month before the Mets decided to put him on the DL.
Was Rubin correct to tweet about the Mets injury woes yesterday? Some say it’s not his place, and that sometimes he lets his emotions interfere with his responsibilities as a journalist. But technically, he writes a “Mets Blog” for ESPN, and like the rest of us, has a right to voice his opinion. I’ve followed Rubin on Twitter for a while now, and I find that when he does opine, he sounds like the rest of us fans – frustrated and angry at what the current ownership/front office has done to this team. I don’t think he’s “trolling,” in fact, it sounds like he cares about the Mets. And I do believe what he reported on Twitter yesterday – what he alleged is consistent with leadership that has run our team into the ground.
We can only hope that Alderson and company will examine the way the team deals with injuries going forward, and has the proper judgement and the clout to institute real change from now on.