I would never make light of a player’s injuries, so please know that I ask the following question with no sarcasm intended when it comes to starting pitcher Brett Anderson.
In Anderson’s career he has dealt with injuries to his elbow, ankle, finger, and now his back…what’s left?
As much as it might be unfair to label somebody as injury prone and write them off as a result, can the Rockies possibly afford to exercise a $12 million option on a guy who has such a checkered and varied injury history?
These questions arise, of course, with the news that Anderson will have season-ending back surgery on Thursday. Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports the following:
Rockies left-handed pitcher Brett Anderson will undergo surgery to repair a disk in his lower back Thursday in Phoenix, head athletic trainer Keith Dugger said Monday.
Anderson left an Aug. 5 start against the Cubs after three innings with back pain, and the issue did not improve with rest and treatment. Dr. Chris Yeung, a noted spinal surgeon in Arizona, will perform the operation. Unless there are other problems in the back, recovery time is five months, so Anderson should be ready for Spring Training.
The Rockies traded Drew Pomeranz to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Anderson this past off-season. Unfortunately that move has to be viewed as a bust, at least this season, due to Anderson’s injuries. This back injury combined with a broken finger earlier in the season made it such that the Rockies only got 43.1 innings of work out of Anderson.
Those innings were good innings, as Anderson posted a 2.91 ERA and showed the groundball-getting efficiency that made him the Rockies’ ideal staff ace in the first place. In the end that simply isn’t good enough, however, and the Brett Anderson experiment is one of the many failures from this season.
That raises the question: will the Rockies try this again with Anderson next season? Many skeptics already raised an eyebrow towards the Rockies when they invested in Anderson as a key guy in 2014. At least some people saw it as a mistake, or at least a move that was not worth the risk because Anderson has been so fragile in his career.
As the Rockies consider what they should do one year later, they now have to add two injuries to that list, including a back injury.
Does Anderson’s limited but solid performances in 2014 warrant exercising a $12 million option to bring him back? It’s hard to say, but I sure find it easy to envision this scenario next season: Anderson makes three starts in April, pitches fine, and then hits the DL again while we all shake our heads at the fact that we should have known better.