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Jobu weighs in on some guys who shouldn’t be playing anymore this year.

Around this time of year, several teams are trying to make decisions on what to do with some of their players. These players might be on an innings limit, they might be dealing with season-long injuries, or even have injuries that they could play through, but would jeopardize their ability to help the team on opening day next season. Sometimes this happens earlier in the season. A couple of months ago, the Reds were forced to schedule a knee surgery for their best player, Joey Votto, because he couldn’t play through his injury anymore and wanted to be back for the stretch run. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of these situations, and whether or not the teams are doing the right thing.

Carl Crawford – Red Sox

Tommy John says it’s time for Crawford to shut it down. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Crawford has been dealing with injuries since last season. He hurt his wrist first, which led to an injury to his elbow, which now requires Tommy John surgery. Crawford ignored the elbow injury and got back to the Sox about a month ago, which was pretty remarkable if you ask me. The problem is that his defense is severely limited by the elbow injury because he can’t throw the ball. He was able to contribute offensively though. In 31 games, “The Perfect Storm,” as he was once known, hit .282/306/.479 with 3 homers, 19 RBI and 5 stolen bases. While those numbers don’t approach his production before he signed with the Sox, it’s still not bad.

With the Red Sox unable to right the ship, and I’m sure the clubhouse controversy didn’t help, Crawford and the Red Sox finally decided to schedule him for the much needed Tommy John surgery. Crawford went under the knife on Tuesday, and is expected to be back for opening day 2013. I think this was a smart move by the Sox. They are essentially giving up on the season, but you don’t want Crawford to stay in the lineup and for a fourth place team and then not have him until July again next season. Right now, the Crawford contract looks simply awful, and it’s important to get him healthy so that he can start actually producing the way he’s being paid to produce. Good move, Sox.

Stephen Strasburg – Nationals

Pitch count will dictate when Strasburg shall sit. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

This one is pretty popular right now, huh? For those of you who don’t know, Stephen Strasburg might be the best pitcher in the NL, and he’s being shut down not because of injury, but because of an innings limit. This is a relatively new school of thought in Major League Baseball. Back in the day, guys threw the ball until their arms fell off. That attitude pretty much stayed prevalent until, I would say, the 2000s, when we started seeing pitchers being held to certain pitch counts and innings limits to protect them and prepare them for a fifteen year career instead of a four year flame out.

I’m not sure about these special innings limits, rules, etc. It makes sense to slowly ramp up pitchers’ innings limits from year to year so that they don’t overwork their arms too quickly. When you’re training for a marathon, for example, you don’t just start by running 26 miles the first day. You have to ramp yourself up to top performance, and it’s the same with pitching (in theory). Nolan Ryan, for example, doesn’t believe in such things. The Rangers regularly push their pitchers to the limit, and so far it has worked pretty well (except maybe with Neftali Felíz). It’s a shame for Washington because Strasburg is haveng a monster year (14-5 2.91 ERA, 11.2 K/9) and they currently have the best record in baseball behind him. Is this team good enough to win without Strasburg? I think so, but it’s a shame going into the playoffs without a guy who can simply blow away the competition. Either way though, if they want to contend for the next ten years, they’re better off being careful. Good job, Nats.

Johan Santana – Mets

Will a balky back tell the Mets to shut down Johan? (Brad Mills/US Presswire)

Here is a case where the team refuses to sit down a player that should probably be shut down for his own good. Johan has come back remarkably from a devastating shoulder injury. For a while, he looked like the Johan of old, an even threw the first no-hitter in Mets history on June first. Since then, Johan really hasn’t been the same. Aside from a couple of solid starts, he’s been pretty terrible (3-7, 8.27 ERA). He also spent some time on the DL with an ankle issue, and has been having back troubles of late. The back troubles actually might lead to the end of his season, but the Mets haven’t said anything officially yet.

After his last start, the Mets decided to let him continue pitching, but reevaluate after every start. I feel like, if it has reached that point, and you’re that worried about his ability to hold up, then you should probably just sit him down and be done with it. You’re only risking more injury, and possibly something catastrophic that could affect his 2013 season as well. Also, the Mets are eight games under .500 with no signs of a late-season charge and virtually no chance to come back and win the division. Johan was scheduled for an MRI Tuesday morning, so maybe those results come back bad enough that they just decide to cut their losses and keep him healthy for next season.

Roger Clemens – Sugarland Skeeters

Someone really needs to tell Clemens it’s time to stop. (David J. Phillip / AP)

I did say this post was about players who should be shut down, didn’t I? Well there’s no worse offender in the world right now than Clemens. “The Rocket” looks like he’s ready for liftoff again, fresh off of being let off the hook in his federal perjury trial. Seriously, bro? First of all, he’s 50 years old and hasn’t pitched professionally since his 2007 comeback attempt with the Yankees. As happy as Suzyn Waldman was to see him back then, I don’t think anyone will be creaming themselves in the booth (pardon the expression) now that he’s announced another comeback.

This is a guy who didn’t know when to shut it down five years ago, so why would he know that now is the time to just walk away? His legal troubles didn’t give him notice. His aborted supposed comeback in the winter league didn’t tell him enough was enough. Maybe, at 50 years old, getting knocked around by Independent League losers will finally put the nail in his coffin. Although, he was throwing in the high 80s at his first workout….

About Jerry Ballgame

The personification of "old school", Jerry Ballgame was born in the shadow of Dr. Naismith's peach basket, and baptized in that "Dirty Water." Designated by his "Uncle" Ted, to keep an eye on things, he's here to tell everyone what his view is like from the Hub of the Universe.