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The Health of the Nation

Over at Baseball Prospectus, they posted their Diamondbacks' Team Health Report, which grades our starters' injury potential on a red-yellow-green light approach (not unlike the Injury Threat Meter we used last year). The co-author, noted baseball health expert Will Carroll, was kind enough to field a few questions on it for us [though go read the article first, as the questions will then make more sense!]

Chris Young's hand injury is worrying some, but you don't seem concerned. Can you tell us more about why not, and any potential long-term risks this kind of break might pose?

Broken bones heal. They do so mostly without problem and complication. Young's hand was fixated and will miss spring training, but that's about as easy an injury to understand as there is. It's known and unlikely to recur. Basically, if he comes back and swings for a week without problem, he'll be no different than before he fell.

If you were a betting man, what would you put the over/under for starts by Orlando Hernandez this year?

18? That's a flat-out guess. The D-Backs would be a great team to go to a four man, using Hernandez as a swingman.

You talked about Valverde and Lyon, but could you go into some more detail why you believe "this whole bullpen is in trouble"? And do you think Melvin's handling of it last year - not least Lyon's heavy use in April - is responsible for some of the ongoing problems?

It's too hard to point a finger at one person and say it's their fault. It contributed, but so did having two fragile guys like Lyon and Valverde. The D-Backs have always had fragile relievers, so this is a pattern, something I think will change under the new front office. The last one won, but asking them to think beyond the next week was tough at times.

Miguel Batista goes back from closer to starter, meriting "a very faint shade of red". What particular problems, health-wise does that pose? Is there more to it than simply the increased workload?

Age, expected increase in innings, role change, and did I mention age? So much of the system is based on the "base rate" risk, which is the average risk for a player of a certain age group and position. Batista's 35 - how many 35 year old pitchers are even pitching, let alone putting up 200 innings? You get the special ones (Clemens) and the exceptions (Moyer) and not much else. Is Batista either of those? Maybe.

Why would shifting Green from LF to CF make him a "bright red" injury threat?

CF is more risky. Changing positions to CF is worse. Green already has enough concerns that a positional move would just ... well, it wouldn't be good if it could be avoided. If they didn't sign Byrnes to avoid it, why the heck did they sign him at all?

Finally, since it might be of interest, I should also mention that Josh Byrnes will be the guest on BP Radio's "West Preview" in two weeks.