The 2010 offseason is winding down, and the Boston Red Sox for 2011 is taking shape. For this reason, Outside the Box will now focus on changes in the organization, and not the team that can help improve the Sox for the future.
Jed Lowrie, Mike Lowell, Jacoby Ellsbury. Three injuries in three years. In case you don't remember, Jed Lowrie broke his wrist in 2008, derailing his rookie season in a year where he very well might have competed with Evan Longoria for rookie of the year honors. At the end of 2009, it was revealed that Mike Lowell had a ruptured tendon in his thumb, this caused the Texas Rangers to cancel a trade that would have brought Max Ramirez to Boston. Just last year, Jacoby Ellsbury collided with third baseman Adrian Beltre, breaking his ribs.
These injuries cost Boston an American League Pennant (2008) a good backup catcher (2009) and a shot at the playoffs (2010). The treatments for these injuries were also all botched by the Boston medical staff.
These aren't nearly the only times players have been mistreated by the medical staff either. Dustin Pedroia played the entire playoffs with a bone chip in his wrist during 2007. Daisuke, Beckett, and Wakefield have had their own injury issues. Manny Delcarmen hid his injuries from the Red Sox, but it's also on the part of the medical staff to issue regular checkups on the players.
Boston has just signed Carl Crawford for twenty million dollars per year, expecting him to play at a high level for many years. Crawford has had issues with his knees for his entire career in Tampa Bay. Now that he's move out of Tropicana Field and is no longer playing on carpet over concrete those issues should be lessened somewhat, but for a player who's entire value is based off of speed, I have to be concerned about knee issues, especially with an incompetent medical staff.
Earlier in 2010 Ryan Westmoreland had a seizure in the minor league clubhouse. Boston immediately took him to get an MRI and discovered that he had a life threatening malformation on his brain stem that had bled onto the electric conduits of his nerves. After a few days it was discovered that the malformation was bleeding again, and the Sox immediately sent Westy in for surgery. Ryan has said to be recovering remarkably quickly and should be playing baseball in Salem at the start of the season.
I don't understand how the medical staff could have acted so swiftly and admirably in regards to Westy, but then sent Ellsbury out to play with broken ribs, or send Cameron out to play with an abdominal hernia. Those are potentially career-ending injuries if Ells collides with another player again, or if Cameron bends the wrong way. Imagine if Ellsbury had gotten plunked in the ribs, in those broken ribs. The ribcage was developed millions of years ago to protect the heart and lungs, when bones are broken, they have jagged edges, I don't like to think about what happens when you combine the heart and lungs with jagged edges and a 90 mile per hour fastball.
It's fair to say that the medical staff didn't know that Ells had broken his ribs, but that reinforces the sentiment that they are simply incompetent. X-rays were developed for a reason, and that reason was to look for broken bones. If the medical staff can't bring a multimillion dollar investment to a hospital to have his chest examined they should be fired on the spot. They completely dropped the ball on Lowell's labrum injury, and quite possibly cut his career short by several years, Alex Rodriguez had a similar injury, and was returned to the field the same year because the New York medical staff treated him properly. Two mid-thirties third basemen, two labrum injuries, two different results, the only major difference there is the two different medical staffs.
Jed Lowrie was told to play though a broken wrist, the medical professionals believes he had a wrist strain, they did not take x-rays. Mike Lowell was told to play through a torn labrum and a ruptured thumb tendon, he is now retired. Jacoby Ellsbury was told to play through broken ribs, he re-injured himself and missed the entire 2010 season. Again, I'm seeing one common factor here, and it's the Boston medical staff. Boston is one of the greatest college towns in the world, they have some of the best medical facilities in the nation, behind my own Chicago. It should not be that hard to find some good medical professionals who are willing to work for the Boston Red Sox.
Boston has two new hundred-million dollar players with injury concerns, it also has a third baseman and second baseman who missed the end of the 2010 season with major injuries. I look into the histories of every single position player, and four of the starting pitchers and I see major red flags regarding injuries. JD Drew needs cortisone in his back, Ortiz has knee and wrist concerns, Salty has shoulder issues, Beckett has back troubles, Lester's a cancer survivor, Lackey's got arm issues, Daisuke was completely useless in 2009 because of injuries. I look at the Red Sox, and I look at the medical staff and I see 2010 repeating itself. Boston needs to do something fast about the doctors it employs.