Last Friday I posted a link to Will Carroll's team health report for the New York Yankees, and noted that he has concerns about the health of Bernie Williams, Nick Johnson, David Wells and Andy Pettitte. However, I neglected to comment that Carroll reserved his biggest concern for Mariano Rivera. My bad. Just lousy reporting on my part.
Here is what Carroll has to say about Mo:
The problems Mariano Rivera had last year are well chronicled, but there's little in the way of facts regarding his injuries. Much of this can be laid at the feet of the always tight-lipped Yankees. After a New York Post writer misrepresented something I'd said in a UTK, Brian Cashman nearly shut off the flow of information entirely. Most concerning was the pattern of the injury, though--Rivera was rushed back in early August only to be back on the DL and into Jim Andrews office less than two weeks later. There didn't appear to be any real reason why he should be rushed. Rivera came back from his third List stint and pitched effectively, if not approaching his previous dominance. Sources insist that his injury was purely muscular and the reports at the time always said "shoulder strain." The rehab, however, seemed to be approached more like a rotator cuff impingement.
Long term, Rivera is facing a similar situation to Pedro Martinez. He'll have to remake his body and build stamina to keep his arm healthy. While Rivera is a reliever and pitches less innings than Martinez, he's also not getting as regular a rest pattern and seldom is able to give less than maximum effort during an outing. I'm very concerned at Rivera's ability to go an entire season without injury. Much will rely on the remade bullpen behind him. With Steve Karsay out for the early portion of the year, the Yankees have no clear "go to guy" which could put more pressure on Rivera. The red light indicates that I think Rivera will have a year much like 2002--effective when healthy, but likely to miss something on the order of a month.
Carroll also thinks the days of the Yankee dynasty are numbered:
Say what you will about an Evil Empire, but the Yankees money has really only bought two things--depth and the ability to buy their way out of personnel mistakes. Operation Shutdown killed the Pirates payroll last year, but bringing in Raul Mondesi is barely a blip for the Yankees. As other teams find their depth in the freely available talent in the Rule 5 or non-tender arenas, the Yankees will find that their advantage not only is eroded, but may work against them. Despite a roster that is as dominant on paper as any in my lifetime, it's my belief that we're seeing the last year of the current Yankee dynasty.