Garrett Richards a cautionary tale for the LA Angels and MLB

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 16: It would be a dream come true for Oliver Ortega to the mound at Angel Stadiu. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 16: It would be a dream come true for Oliver Ortega to the mound at Angel Stadiu. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

It seems that it always come to the worst for the LA Angels. Long-time starter, the oft-injured Garrett Richards, once again has a damaged UCL. This comes after two years of rehabbing from the same injury after avoiding Tommy John to secure alternative treatments; the unreliable PRP/stem cell treatment. There’s a lot to discuss regarding this revelation; are the Angels to blame for this, and will this affect their player management going down the line?

It happened, the worst case scenario has come to life once again. Angels big-time starter, Garrett Richards, is pondering Tommy John surgery after choosing to avoid it two years ago in hopes of staving off Tommy John. Once again, reality bites the Angels in the behind. What the Angels hoped translated as “willingness to improve their athlete’s health beyond the standard” only turned out to be a desperate attempt to avoid having to shut someone down for a year.

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Now it looks as if the Angels are just an avoidance organization. Fears that they would lose out on a year of a talented athlete has turned into a derailing of his career. It’s disheartening to see things go down this way for Garrett Richards, yet what strikes me worse is that the Angels will ignore the obvious signs being thrown in their face regarding a must-develop athlete with superstar potential who is dealing with the same exact injury issues.

That’s right, it’s Shohei Ohtani. The Angels are once again ignoring the much-needed issue of maintaining a player’s health and development properly. You guessed it, the Angels are putting his health on the back-burner in the vain attempt to field a winning team despite the season quickly wasting away.

This slant deserves far more attention than it’s getting; the fact that Ohtani is in the same exact boat as Richards and the Angels choose not to immediately fortify his health is worrying. Instead they attempting mediocre success rate alternatives in prp/stem cell treatments that leave players on thin ice instead of renewed strength. The best way I’ve heard it put is “When you have UCL damage you won’t be throwing as you should, because in the back of your mind you’ll be holding yourself back from going as full-out as you should given the paranoia of reinjury.”

Garrett Richards has lost out on three seasons of his career and his fullest potential after being treated like an experiment by the Angels instead of taking the obvious and most mature organizational path and shutting down the player until their health is 100%. This Garrett Richards injury may be icing on the cake, but if something like this were to happen to Ohtani the Angels organization would be rightfully tarred and feathered all across the MLB and sports media.

Let this be a warning tale to the Angels, and the MLB as well. Player health is the utmost priority in baseball, not fielding a winning team or fighting to keep a losing season alive in desperate hopes that things “may” turn around after months and months of the same failures seeing no improvement.  The Angels have set up roadblock after roadblock for Garrett Richards. Instead of bracing themselves and facing the big wall of Tommy John surgery together they forced Richards to go through the uncertainty of experimental treatment; and surprise, his body is back to where it was 3 years ago.

I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but with this news coming out it would be in the best interest of the Angels to shut down Ohtani immediately. Let’s not even play that game of waiting for UCL to elevate to a Grade 3 strain, which no if’s and’s or but’s requires Tommy John surgery. I don’t know how many more signs the Angels will need before bucking up and putting the needs of their players before the needs of the organization. I’m not saying that every player needs to be treated with baby gloves on, but it seems the Angels always go the duct-tape approach with the health of their players.

There’s not muchmore to say about this other than this; the Angels may not have “ruined” the career of Garrett Richards, but they did without a doubt hold it back and delay it at every step of the way. Now that they have the same circumstance rear its ugly head with one of the biggest potential super-star athletes in baseball history these Angels need to find it within themselves to make the right decision.

Of course they’ll just keep avoiding reality and duct-taping Ohtani’s arm together until it falls off completely. We’ve had to watch them drive Richards into losing his arm twice, and now that Ohtani has already lost his pitching arm once the Angels must do everything in their power to ensure a long, fruitful future for Shohei Ohtani. Even if it hurts them in the process

Next: Who Will Step Up With Richards Out?

Otherwise the Angels will be lambasted as the worst organization in baseball. Sure they may not be the money-laundering Derek Jeter Marlins, but at least the Marlins have developed outstanding players. If the Angels ruin the development of Shohei Ohtani, one of the brightest talents in generations, they will rightfully be branded as pariahs.

And as much as I love the Angels, if they fall into the Richards trap with Ohtani they will rightfully earn every ounce of shame brought their way. Regardless of what they do, this already long season just became way too long.