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Healthy Athletics?

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I was reading a story on the A's official site about some of the A's minor league prospects and something jumped out at me.

  • Yet another top pick shut down in 2006, Italiano posted a 3.50 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 19 innings at Kane County before shoulder woes ended his season after four starts.
  • The Arizona State star, the A's supplemental first-round pick in 2005, also saw his season abbreviated by a shoulder injury, but his numbers in the first half were outstanding.
  • A slow start was becoming a thing of the past when he pulled his hamstring after 46 games at Stockton and missed most of the year.
  • A Kansas community college pick in the fourth round, Lee missed all of 2005 with a torn ACL and there were still some concerns about his health.
  • The Stetson product was drafted for his bat and now, after missing nearly all of 2005 with a hip flexor, the pressure will be on in 2007 to finally put up some numbers.
  • He had missed most of 2005 with a finger injury, posting a 1.77 ERA in seven starts for Sacramento.
  • The player formerly known as Jairo Garcia posted a 3.27 ERA at Sacramento this season, limiting Pacific Coast League opponents to a .207 average in 33 innings before missing the second half of the year with shoulder tendinitis.
  • Another top prospect who suffered a lost season is the five-tool prospect from Venezuela, who underwent Tommy John surgery in the spring and missed the entire summer.
  • The 2006 season turned out to be pretty much a lost one for him, however, as he fractured his left elbow in mid-May and, after a late-season return to the Arizona League, strained his hamstring.

This injuries are on TOP of all the injuries the A's dealt with at the major league level. I know I jokingly asked Billy Beane if he had Greg Brady's tiki idol underneath his pillow, but seriously, it would appear as though that's the case.

As many of you know the big league team had 15 players hit the DL at some point in 2006. So this really raises the question, combined with Bobby Crosby's recent outburst about the A's medical staff, are the A's employing incompetent medical personnel?

I honestly don't have an answer. But the A's have experienced injuries to a ridiculous extent the last two seasons. And when approaching and thinking ahead to 2007, the biggest questions once again will be health. Will Eric Chavez be able to go through the season without a myriad of injuries? Will the A's get 140 plus games from Milton Bradley and Bobby Crosby? Will Mark Ellis survive a season? How will Rich Harden hold up? Will Kotsay's back get progressively worse? If the A's sign Cliff Floyd, will he be ready for a full season? If the A's chase Trot Nixon, how many days will he spend on the DL? Will Huston Street have the occasional groin problems? Will Justin Duchscherer's back act up again? That's quite a list of talent and yet as an A's fan, it scares me to death when thinking about 2007. And yes, this also brings up the fact that the A's are giving up their most durable, dependable pitcher in Barry Zito.

This is an epidemic when talking about the Oakland A's. And judging from reading the minor league injury issues, it's an organizational problem that absolutely positively must be addressed. I have to think that this is something that tops Billy Beane's list this offseason. One year you can write off as a freak occurence, two and you have to wonder what is going on and there has to be some kind of evaluation of the preventative measures you're taking to make sure your most valuable assets remain healthy. I can't imagine that Lewis Wolff would say, yeah I don't mind paying all these guys to rehab.

Listen, injuries are going to happen over a 162-game season. But the extent and frequency of the injuries is the concern, and they've been happening from the top to bottom of the organization. I know people probably don't keep stats for injuries throughout an organization, but the A's probably set some kind of unofficial record last year. This will not and can not stand if the team wants to remain a contender in 2007.