CC Sabathia and Each MLB Team's Worst Injury Nightmare

Eli MargerCorrespondent IMay 24, 2011

CC Sabathia and Each MLB Team's Worst Injury Nightmare

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    As a kid, did you ever envision doomsday scenarios? You know, asteroids hit your city, aliens invade, Godzilla attacks. It's human nature to ponder the worst-case scenario.

    Of course, I'm sure that GMs across Major League Baseball have these scenarios in their minds. Maybe Ken Williams is scared of Disco Demolition Round 2 in Chicago. Maybe Brian Sabean is scared that Brian Wilson will shave his beard.

    But the worst nightmare of each team is a pivotal player getting hurt. So, true to the nature of humans, I will look at the worst-case scenario for each team.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Justin Upton

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    For the Diamondbacks, Justin Upton represents the most vital piece of the team. He is as valuable for his defense and speed as he is for his bat. An injury to Upton would be a major blow to the team's lineup and make its defense much more vulnerable.

    A dynamic player like Justin Upton is very hard to replace, and for a team struggling to stay afloat as Arizona is, it might be fatal.

    Devastation level: 7/10

Atlanta Braves: Tommy Hanson

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    At this point, it is probably fair to anoint Hanson the ace of the Braves rotation. He has been their most valuable pitcher this year, with he and Jair Jurrjens carrying the load. Losing Hanson this season would be devastating not only in the short term but also in terms of long-term concerns.

    The way pitchers are now, an injury to a young arm instantly raises a huge red flag. Braves fans don't want that to happen with Tommy Hanson.

    Devastation level: 8/10

Baltimore Orioles: Matt Wieters

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    One could argue that a more serious injury for the O's would be one to a good young pitcher like Brian Matusz (already hurt), Chris Tillman or Zach Britton. But due to their abundance of great pitching, an injury to their franchise catcher, Matt Wieters, would be more of an issue.

    With an aging lineup, Wieters is the future, and the more at-bats he has early on in his career, the better he'll be later. They can't lose him.

    Devastation level: 7.5/10

Boston Red Sox: Adrian Gonzalez

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    Right now, if one had to pick the AL MVP, it might be Jose Bautista of Toronto. But perhaps the only player who can hold a candle to him is Boston's Adrian Gonzalez. He is hitting to his potential, driving balls to all fields and throwing in some excellent defense at first base.

    If Gonzalez goes down, Boston will be hard pressed to replace his production in an otherwise-iffy lineup.

    Devastation factor: 7/10

Chicago Cubs: Matt Garza

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    You may not be able to tell by his stats, but Matt Garza has been Chicago's best pitcher this year. He brings great stuff and an uncommon fire to the mound. Plus, with Ryan Dempster and Casey Coleman struggling mightily, Garza's consistency has been very welcomed in the Cubs' rotation.

    But without him, the Cubs may sink towards the bottom of the NL Central behind awful pitching.

    Devastation factor: 6/10

Chicago White Sox: Alexi Ramirez

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    After what was an absolutely disastrous start to the season, the White Sox are climbing their way back into the thick of the AL Central race. A major part of this has been the great play of Alexei Ramirez, whose great hitting and stellar defense have energized the White Sox once-dormant lineup.

    But take Ramirez out of the equation and you have no run-producing, run-saving shortstop to lead your team.

    Devastation factor: 7/10

Cincinnati Reds: Joey Votto

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    It would be absolutely terrible for the Reds to lose Joey Votto, the best first baseman in the NL not named Albert Pujols. Though Votto's power numbers haven't quite picked up, he has remained an irreplaceable part in the excellent lineup of the Reds. Without him, Cincinnati goes from a great offense to just average. They need their MVP.

    Devastation factor: 8/10

Cleveland Indians: Justin Masterson

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    The Pyramids. The Great Wall of China. Mount Rushmore. The Cleveland Indians.

    Yes, the wonders of the world. Cleveland's incredible start has been validated by a recent sweep of the potent Reds, and their success is due largely in part to the pitching of Justin Masterson. At 5-2 with a 2.52 ERA, Masterson has teamed up with Josh Tomlin to provide baseball's unlikeliest great pitching duo. But without Masterson, where would the Tribe be? He is a veteran, and too important to this rotation to lose.

    Devastation: 7.5/10

Colorado Rockies: Jhoulys Chacin

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    Memories of Ubaldo Jiminez' ridiculous 2010 campaign have faded and reality has set in for the Rockies. With Ubaldo's huge dropoff, the Rockies have relied on the great pitching of young Jhoulys Chacin.

    He has far exceeded expectations for this year, and if Colorado is to stay afloat in a crowded NL West, Chacin needs to keep up this performance. But if he goes down, so does, in all likelihood, the Rockies' season.

    Devastation factor: 7.5/10

Detroit Tigers: Miguel Cabrera

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    Detroit is a very balanced team. As such, no player's injury would be truly devastating. Any of the starters could go down and the pitching would not likely fall off by much. But if Miguel Cabrera were to get hurt, the Tigers would lose their best hitter and the lifeblood of their offense.

    As good as Jhonny Peralta, Victor Martinez and Alex Avila have been, the offense does need their big slugger in the lineup.

    Devastation factor: 7/10

Florida Marlins: Josh Johnson

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    Marlins fans are already getting a small taste of life without Josh Johnson. Scratched from his start on Sunday, the Marlins saw the Rays score four early runs and win. He is one of those "certain-win" pitchers, and losing him would be awful, especially for a team trying desperately to keep pace with the Phillies and hold off the Braves.

    Florida's staff is good, but they must keep Johnson healthy.

    Devastation factor: 8/10

Houston Astros: Hunter Pence

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    There's not a whole lot to smile about in Houston this year. Luckily, the Astros do have a budding superstar in outfielder Hunter Pence. He is leading the charge offensively for the 'Stros, hitting .295 with 35 RBI.

    But without Pence, Houston might have baseball's sorriest lineup. They're a last place team with him, but they'd be epically bad without him.

    Devastation factor: 6/10

Kansas City Royals: Eric Hosmer

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    The Royals are getting a very promising glimpse into the future with the call-up of first baseman Eric Hosmer. He is one of many Kansas City prospects expected to take the majors by storm in the next year or two. But an injury to him would be a horrible omen for Royals fans.

    The prize prospect of the farm system getting hit by the injury bug his first year in the bigs is definitely not a good sign.

    Devastation factor: 7.5/10

Los Angeles Angels: Howie Kendrick

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    As with Detroit, the Angels are a balanced team, so no one injury would truly derail the season. But Howie Kendrick is a do-it-all player, the kind of guy you want playing every single night. He hits, he runs and boy, does he field.

    Kendrick's loss would be the same type of impact as Alexei Ramirez would be for the White Sox. It would leave a huge void both in the lineup and in the infield.

    Devastation factor: 7/10

Los Angeles Dodgers: Matt Kemp

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    The Dodgers are fading fast, and each day seemingly brings another game separating them from the Giants and Rockies atop the division. While the pitching staff has been relatively solid, the offense is being helped by a huge season from Matt Kemp.

    He is about as complete a player as there is in baseball, and if he went down, the Dodgers would almost certainly have to throw in the towel on their season. His dynamic offensive ability is just too valuable.

    Devastation factor: 8.5/10

Milwaukee Brewers: Ryan Braun

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    This one is pretty much a no-brainer. The Brewers are right in the thick of the NL Central race, and losing their best player would be a horrendous event for their season. Despite having good seasons by Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks, the Brew Crew would simply not be able to replace the scorching bat of Ryan Braun.

    He is too ominous a presence in the middle of that lineup. Without him, Fielder's numbers drop, and the team sinks down the standings.

    Devastation factor: 8/10

Minnesota Twins: Jason Kubel

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    Who would've thought that going into the last week of May, baseball's worst record would belong to the Twins? A combination of disappointments (Francisco Liriano, Justin Morneau) and absences (Joe Mauer) has caused the Twins to play sub-standard baseball.

    Right now, their most consistent player is Jason Kubel. Without him, every day is an absolute question mark for the Twins. The question would then become how much worse could this team be?

    Devastation factor: 6/10

New York Mets: Jose Reyes

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    This may be a cliche choice, but it's not for the reason you think. Sure, Jose Reyes is the Mets most valuable and best player. Sure, he's having a tremendous season. But what an injury would do is significantly hurt his trade value to the point that the Mets would get much less return for him than if healthy.

    The long-term effects would be decided after the season in free agency. But for a loss in production and trade value, this would not be good for the Mets.

    Devastation factor: 7.5/10

New York Yankees: C.C. Sabathia

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    The Yankees are, to put it lightly, skating on thin ice with their starting pitching. They are relying on the "seasoned" arms of Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon to supplement the young Ivan Nova and shaky A.J. Burnett.

    But the rock of the rotation and the most important player on this team is C.C. Sabathia. He is as effective as he is consistent. An injury to Carsten Charles would put the Yankees season in severe jeopardy.

    Devastation factor: 9/10

Oakland Athletics: Trevor Cahill

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    Only in the AL West can you be three games under .500 and still be two games out of first place. This is life for the Oakland Athletics. They are a light-hitting bunch, carried by a very strong pitching staff.

    At the forefront of this staff is Trevor Cahill, baseball's most underappreciated pitcher. His 6-1 record and 1.79 ERA are very hard to replace. For a team trying to make a move, losing its ace would prove deadly.

    Devastation factor: 8/10

Philadelphia Phillies: Shane Victorino

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    For the National League's best team, losing one important player probably won't be such a horrible fate. If a starting pitcher goes down, there are plenty of others to fill the void. If Ryan Madson goes down, there are other relievers to pick it up. But losing stud centerfielder Shane Victorino would be troublesome.

    He is the complete packing and is actually showing some decent power this year. Without him, the already vulnerable Phillies lineup would take a hgue hit.

    Devastation factor: 6/10

Pittsburgh Pirates: Andrew McCutchen

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    Pittsburgh's season has been incredibly promising, and the Buccos are finally looking like a team that has climbed out of futility. The primary reason for this has been an astounding array of pitching performances from Charlie Morton, Kevin Correia and Joel Hanrahan.

    But the offense is fragile, hinging on the dynamic ability of Andrew McCuthen. He is one of baseball's most athletic players, providing sparks at bat, in the field and on the basepaths. Without him, there is little hope for this offense to put the team over the hump.

    Devastation factor: 7/10

St. Louis Cardinals: Jaime Garcia

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    Is it just me, or is every hitter on the Cardinals except for Albert Pujols above .300 right now? That being said, an injury to a Redbirds hitter would not be the end of the world. However, Jaime Garcia is not quite as expendable.

    He has been the effective ace of the Cardinals and a promising part of the team's future. An injury to him would be horrible both for this season and beyond.

    Devastation factor: 8/10

San Diego Padres: Cameron Maybin

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    There's not a whole lot to like about this Padres team. They don't hit a whole lot, and their starting pitching leaves much to be desired. Their bullpen is stellar, but that's besides the point. Their best offensive player is Cameron Maybin, a former Marlins prospect who is finally approaching his five-tool potential.

    Without him, the Padres really have no hope on offense. They would be hard pressed to be able to win many more games without his presence.

    Devastation factor: 7/10

San Francisco Giants: Tim Lincecum

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    It may be the biggest fear of any fan of the Giants. The vaunted injury to Tim Lincecum would be devastating not so much in the short term as it would be for the long term.

    Often criticized for his wild delivery, any arm problem that develops with Lincecum could be absolutely disastrous. For this season, the Giants would lose their ace and most valuable player. It'd be a very, very hard pill to swallow.

    Devastation factor: 8.5/10

Seattle Mariners: Felix Hernandez

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    Speaking of worst nightmares, this one would haunt the Mariners for years. Hernandez is baseball's best pitcher and the most valuable piece of this organization. If he were to get hurt, the future of the franchise would likely go into limbo.

    Will he be healthy again? Could he be moved? Or will everything be back to normal in a few months? Whatever the case, the M's would be sweating over a King Felix injury.

    Devastation factor: 8.5/10

Tampa Bay Rays: Evan Longoria

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    With an abundance of great young talent, there are lots of devastating injuries that could happen for the Tampa Bay Rays. If it is any consolation, the pitching depth within the organization is deep enough that an injury to David Price, James Shields or Jeremy Hellickson could be reasonably dealt with.

    But if Evan Longoria goes down, the Rays lose the face of their franchise, best hitter and best defender. It would be a disastrous turn of events for the team's season, as an already struggling offense would take a huge it.

    Devastation factor: 8.5/10

Texas Rangers: Josh Hamilton

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    This is a nightmare scenario that, in the past few weeks, has seen itself play out. The effects of a lineup without Josh Hamilton aren't awful, but it is definitely felt. His great power and ability to keep the defense on edge makes him a one-of-a-kind weapon in the middle of the Rangers order.

    This is a team trying to stave off three other teams in the AL West and return to the postseason. With an extended absence from Hamilton, those chances diminish.

    Devastation factor: 6.5/10

Toronto Blue Jays: Jose Bautista

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    What could possibly be more devastating than losing baseball's most feared hitter? Without Jose Bautista, the Blue Jays are a mediocre team, simply put. His very presence in the lineup gives them a chance to win every single day.

    But if Bautista were to get hurt, the team would have to scrap to find offense and, as a result, wins. He is baseball's MVP so far, and losing him would be absolutely devastating.

    Devastation factor: 9/10

Washington Nationals: Bryce Harper

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    He's the only minor leaguer on the list, and for good reason. Bryce Harper has made minor league pitching look absolutely silly so far this year. He is without question the future of this team, namely its offense. But with Stephen Strasburg already hit by the injury bug big time, Nationals fans are really on edge about their young phenoms.

    If Harper goes down, it would be tragic and devastating for the organization and its fanbase. He may not arrive in the majors for another year, but if Harper gets hurt in the near future, it will send shockwaves throughout the organization.

    Devastation factor: 9/10