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The Aaron Judge Fiasco

My level of frustration over the Aaron Judge situation is pretty much boiling over. For those of you who have not yet heard, Aaron Judge fractured a rib in September (6 months ago) and now may be out of action for another 6-12 weeks (or more). The injury should have healed in 3-6 months (the 6 months ended in March) so it’s likely that his off-season regimen delayed his recovery.

Just to get some background, a full season of Aaron Judge would be worth around 7 wins to the Yankees. That’s around $70 million at market rates (for a free agent) or $432,000 per game. You’d think that for an asset that valuable, you’d be pretty much on top of things. You could hire Judge a full time doctor to live with him for a year for less than his value for one game.

So some medical background. The normal way to diagnose a bone break is with an x-ray. The only problem with x-rays is that you get normally 2 views. Front and side. So depending on the angle of the break, you could miss something. CAT scans are also slices and mostly good for small tumors. The Yankees did a ton of MRIs which look at slices and are usually best for muscle problems. The MRIs found nothing on Judge. It was a CAT scan that ultimately found the break this week.

What happened was the Yankees somehow sent Aaron Judge on his way in October and then he started working out again in November – even though his fracture was not healed at that point.

Now, I understand that athletes, like all of us, have small pains all the time. But this is a $70 million per year ball player. The standard of care for a $70 million asset that is reliant upon peak physical conditioning must certainly be higher than for someone like me who types on a keyboard all day. And the Yankees waited until March to finally pull out all the stops and figure out that he had a fracture in his uppermost rib all the time.

I admit that I don’t have all of the information. But Judge said that he heard a crack and a pop when he hurt himself. It seems beyond belief that the Yankees would have allowed him to resume a vigorous exercise regimen without either (a) determining the cause of the pain or (b) concluding that the pain was 100% gone and he was healed.

It certainly seems like the Yankee medical staff did not cover themselves with glory on this one. I’ve been a huge fan of Brian Cashman, but I’m sorry to say that at the end of the day the buck stops with him. Medical professionals are members of an organization that report to him just like statisticians. Cashman did not go to medical school but neither did he major in statistics. He learned enough statistics to do his job. It does not appear that Cashman knows enough about medicine to ask the right questions and properly do his job. Cashman is responsible for assuring that each player is cared for properly. That did not happen here.

Unfortunately, it seems like it didn’t happen for numerous players who have arrived in camp injured or who have injured themselves very quickly.

Hopefully, this is a wake-up call for Yankee management.

It sure is an expensive one.


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