Uh-oh, Vic's knee, y'all

For the second time in four years, a very superb and proud athlete suffered a most unfortunate knee injury during his pre-season workouts.

A torn meniscus is better than a torn ACL. Even at 36 years of age, Vic stays trending upward.

Or it could be considerably worse.

Other than suggesting that Vic's offseason routine seems like it needs to include less cossack dancing, it seems tasteless to immediately jump on an unfortunate injury as a windfall for the White Sox. But then, there's more than just that going on here. 

As the White Sox turned toward being serious buyers during the offseason, Victor Martinez was pushed as a necessary item by many. The biggest, shiniest name on the market, fresh off a inexplicably killer season with a division rival, Martinez was the most obvious choice for an instant upgrade at a vacant position, and checked a lot of boxes for surface-level analysis: "Contact hitter," "Second in MVP voting," "Playoff experience," "Veteran," "Lineup protection for Abreu," etc.

Any dismissal of a free agent target sounds like a saber vs. traditionalists war, but all the Sox had done up to this point was save money--they had to spend on someone, Martinez just happened to be the greatest collection of red flags these eyes had ever seen. He was turning 36, position-less, doomed to regress not just due to age but because he had never hit anywhere close to as well as he did 2014 in his life, and had a history of injury in the knee he just injured. Arguments against doing something aggressive always seem passive and weak up until the knee actually explodes, and even then it's usually an unforeseen tragedy with consequences too ugly to touchdown dance over. But Vic's knee was a known risk, and now it's going to force him to miss Spring Training. We can withhold actually saying "we told you so," but we're giving you that look.

Who can be sure that Martinez was going to hit any better than Adam LaRoche this year, but in his absence, the Tigers are definitely missing one of their offensive lynchpins, especially given the way 36-year-olds can tend not to hit recovery projections right on the dot. In my opinion, some of the reaction to their needs is even crueler than celebrating the injury itself.

Signing Dayan to DH is better than signing him to field, but if he could hit enough to fill a full-time slot, he wouldn't have just gotten DFA'd and released, or possess a below-average batting line for his career (95 wRC+). The whole marketing scheme behind trying to move him was that he might be capable of being an offensive plus against lefties off the bench, and even that is something he hasn't been since 2012. Projecting Dayan as an option for the Tigers sounds straight-up like hoping your competition for a job gets into a car crash on the way to their interview.

On second thought...

...maybe the Tigers need Dayan.

TCS' official stance is that 'add up the WAR' is for dummies, but the basic principles of this concept tell us that swapping Victor Martinez for A Large Man With a Stick for a month won't cost the Tigers much more than a single win, maybe two if the replacement is  just unimaginably atrocious. Every game counts in a division that mostly projected to be a bottleneck of semi-competence, and that grows into something more if the injury really lingers, or if missing Spring Training has Kendrys Morales-like effects, but we are possibly getting ahead of ourselves at this point.

The Sox continue to pad their lead in the winter headlines tournament, which has been a fun ride. They still have two other teams to worry about. For the Tigers the problem could be more of an omen than a tangible issue. They are pot-committed to older players to carry the water for the team, and are tapped out for solutions when they break down. It's an issue, and it's going to come up with increasing frequency. Missing weeks or months of Victor is survivable, but it's a symptom, not the root.


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