Jake Westbrook's Season Ending Injury Has Long Term Implications

Nino Colla@TheTribeDailySenior Writer IJune 7, 2008

Jake Westbrook keeps leaving the door open, and other pitchers are just sliding right in.

Last year, it was Westbrook's injury that enabled the Indians to keep Fausto Carmona around just a little bit longer.

The rest is the legend of Carmona, who went from laughing stock closer, to Cy Young candidate.

Well, Jake has done it again, this time it's Aaron Laffey as the benefactor.

Westbrook saw Dr. Lewis Yocum on Friday, which is never good news for any athlete, especially pitchers. He and fellow medical guru Dr. James Andrews are fast becoming known as the "Doctors of Death."

A visit to either of them usually signals the end of your season, more than likely.

That is Westbrook’s fate, and he will now need Tommy John surgery on his elbow.

He is almost certainly gone for the rest of the year, and depending on his progress could miss some of next season as well.

Let's face it, Shin-Soo Choo missed some of this year with the same injury, and he isn't even a pitcher.

Jake Westbrook could be out for the rest of the year, and then some. He probably won't have spring training, so that means he will have to start similarly to how Choo did.

That puts an even tougher strain on an Indians' rotation that is in question next year.

Not a bad question, but one of intrigue.

As it's widely known, C.C. Sabathia is a free agent after this year. Paul Byrd is as well, and he could even retire.

Adam Miller, the stud flamethrower in the Minor Leagues is also out for the year, and that severely hinders his progress once again.

Miller was supposed to contribute this year, and if all went well would have been claiming one of those rotation spots next year.

This leaves only three pitchers in the rotation next year that we can count on being there: Cliff Lee, Fausto Carmona, and Aaron Laffey.

Even if Jeremy Sowers shows his stuff filling in for Fausto Carmona for the next month or so, does that really put faith in the rotation as a whole? You do still have another spot up for grabs, and as far as I can tell. We have no one in house to take that spot in the rotation.

That leaves the Indians with a few options.

Sign a low-priced veteran of the Paul Byrd mold, or maybe take a chance on someone ala Boston with Bartolo Colon. It would be an insurance policy of sorts, because you can never have too much pitching.

Or you could simply re-sign Paul Byrd for another year.

You can give Adam Miller an outright chance to win the spot out of Spring Training, but seeing as he has been shut down this year, I don't know what to make or think about that idea.

Maybe the most favorable option would be to up the ante for C.C. Sabathia. Give the big guy what he is asking for, and you eliminate all doubt in next year's plans. Proceed as you have this year, with Sowers and Westbrook.

Sowers has two option years left, including this year.

It's something to ponder going into next year. It is unreasonable to expect Westbrook to be ready for the start of the year. Even if he does hit the at best mark of 10 months, he won't be sharp enough to start the year in the rotation.

The Indians need a backup plan, and with a few of their key parts this year not locked up, the have some tough decisions to make.