Wednesday, March 21, 2007

BP Reality Check--Gerut edition

Here's another disappointment in the Baseball Prospectus. In the note on Jody Gerut, the BP Team of Talent expounds:

Gerut endured a lost season . . . . It didn't help that the Players Association had to file a grievance just to get the Pirates to agree that Gerut had a knee injury. The Pirates don't know much about baseball, but, when it comes to medicine, well, they know even less.

This looks like a zinger but, when it comes to reality, well, it only zangs.

I do not know the whole story of the Jody Gerut sideshow. I only know what was reported by the Post-Gazette and the AP and so forth. The story, however, was not about Pittsburgh medical prowess but about Jody Gerut behaving badly.

Gerut looked healthy and reported no physical problems throughout March 2006. To the surprise of some, he did not make the team. He was cut on the last day of camp. Only then did he call Dave Littlefield to say that his knee hurt, that he had been to another doctor without the team's knowledge, and that he was going to follow that doctor's advice and have surgery. Gerut had told reporters right after receiving the news of demotion that he was healthy and cleared to play and ready to do so. So something happened between that moment and the call to Dave Littlefield.

If he had the surgery while on the major-league disabled list, which (I think) was the goal with the call to the GM hours after being cut, then he would continue to accrue service time and receive his big-league salary. I am not real sure about this part, but I got the impression that the Pirates could not demote him if he was injured. So by announcing his injury, he was attempting to force them to keep him on the big-league roster.

Either way, and some details may be wrong, whatever the situation was, it caused the Pirates to call bullshit on Jody Gerut. Earlier that day he was fit and trim. After his agent learned that he was demoted, however, he now had a doctor who said he needed surgery? The Pirates put him on the minor-league restricted list, meaning Gerut did not accrue service time and did not get paid his 875K.

This is when the players' union filed the grievance. Over the next three weeks, the Pirates and Gerut reached a compromise. The Pirates acknowledged that he had patella tendinitis. Gerut agreed to treat it without surgery. To me it appeared that the truth was down the middle: his knee was hurt, but it was not hurt all that bad. Though I would like to play one on TV, I am not a doctor, and I pretend to know that patella tendinitis is a condition with many shades of gray between playing health and required surgery.

Even if the Pirates' medical staff did a Benny Hill routine in lieu of competent knee tests that March, Jody Gerut and his Grievance is not a story that makes the Pirates' doctors look bad. The incident, above all, put Jody Gerut in a bad light.

None of this is evidence that the Pirates have a competent medical staff. This is evidence, however, of the smarmy ignorance the BP Team of Talent display while they crack themselves up throughout the Pirates' player comments. They might as well blame the Pirates for Brandon Lyon's nerve transposition surgery--Boston said Lyon was healthy, so it must have been the Pirates' medical staff that injured Lyon's arm as they prepared it for the MRIs.

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