Will Carroll is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
Will Carroll: Sorry I'm late - it's hard to walk through the lobby of the Anatole without being stopped, so a five minute walk back to the media workroom turned into 20. But, I picked up some info (Millwood 4/44 from Mariners ...) so lets get to it
Justin (nyu): Has this off-season improved the White Sox, at least on paper? Will age make them better or worse next year?
Will Carroll: It's tough to tell. Williams and Guillen were happy last night and it's hard to blame them. They both have room on their hands for the rings they earned last season and Jim Thome is in hand. The Sox have to do the same things they did last year - pitch well, keep the ball in the park, play good D - and if Thome's healthy (a big if) then yes, they're better.
Justin (nyu): How much would Clemens demand on the open market assuming he would only sign a one-year deal? Wouldn't his value to a contender be enormous?
Will Carroll: Yes, but ... this is Clemens. He's not on the open market and there's only one bidder for his services. I'm sure that they can find a nice number where he's at worst revenue neutral while still adding to his Scrooge McDuck gold pile. The question is more of whether he wants to pitch and seeing his intense desire to play for Team USA, I think he will.
Julio Lugo (Tampa Bay): A lot of teams are after me these days (Cubs, Braves, Red Sox, etc). Fans all over are probably wondering -- Am I any good?
Will Carroll: Yes. Lugo's had some off field issues in the past but was a good citizen as far as I can tell while in Tampa. He's available, cheap, and is 75% of the player that Furcal is at 1% of the price.
I expect him to be a Brave, possibly for Andy Marte.
twayda (chicago): Whats with teams backloading contracts? Do they not realize that the people they sign in their late 20's early 30's will decline. Whats so bad about frontloading a contract? Is it because managment does not want to do this or players won't accept it?
Will Carroll: It's usually a trick to make these deals work, but its average annual value that the player cares about usually. The Carlos Delgado deal is an example of how this can work for a team -- $4m for a year of Delgado and a couple former Mets is a nice deal.
twayda (chicago): When did Ronny Cedeno become capable of playing SS everyday, or better yet when did he even become a good prospect?
Will Carroll: He's been capable for a while, the question is whether he can hit enough to hold the position. He'd be a fine defensive player and if the Cubs can get some more pop in RF then you can handle having a defensive player. The Cubs rely on pitching and if things go right, they'll look a lot like the White Sox did last year - four big starters, a couple boppers, and good defense.
John (SF): Is Miguel Cabrera available as part of the Marlins' fire sale, or is he still untouchable? I would think teams would be all over this if he is available.
Will Carroll: Completely untouchable. Forget for a moment how young and cheap he is and he's still one of 5-10 players you'd build a team around. Cabrera, Willis, and Billy the Marlin appear to be the untouchables.
John (SF): Barry Zito ends up...
Will Carroll: ... with some amazing looking women.
Mike (Wichita, KS): YOU ROCK WILL!! I read the Philly Daily News article regarding discussions between the Phils and Cubs, specifically a trade involving Abreu and Prior. Have you heard any other information and does this have a chance of happening? What other players do you think could be involved in this deal?
Will Carroll: Thanks. Discussions yes, but the Abreu for Prior deal was akin to the guy in a fantasy league asking for the moon. It's a nice way of saying that Gillick would need to be blown away. The Cubs aren't panicked despite missing out on their targetted players and seem willing to play with what they have. They really need a RF and they're likely to be in on Pierre.
shamah (DC): Who's the Yankee CF opening day?
Will Carroll: Bubba Crosby. That's not as bad as it sounds.
Drew W (NOVA): Any thoughts on Eric Chavez passing on shoulder surgery this offseason?
Will Carroll: Surgery is never a 100% proposition and since Chavez saw several top surgeons, we'll have to assume that he has a similar chance of returning to form -- whatever that really is -- next year through rehab.
shamah (DC): So where does Damon end up?
Will Carroll: Boston. He has a value there beyond what he does on the field that I just don't see anywhere else. That value makes his demands not quite as crazy as they sound. Boras has his research ready to prove that Damon will last and it's hard to disagree.
Conor Glassey (Redmond, WA): Hey Will -
I'm a big Mariners fan, crossing my fingers that they sign Millwood. However, they have quite a few holes in the rotation and everyone keeps mentioning that they may consider filling one of the holes via trade instead of the FA market. However, there's never any mention of any pitchers they might trade for. So, I have 2.5 questions for you...1) Are the M's gunning for Millwood and do you think Millwood will sign with *someone* in Dalls? And 2) Have you heard any names of pitchers the M's might be targeting via trade? Thanks, Will. Have a blast!
Will Carroll: I don't think Millwood will get done here, but of the Boras clients, he's the most likely. The market is now set by the Burnett deal -- while we don't have a finalized version yet, we all know what the signing will be for cash-wise.
The M's haven't really been active in the trade market since they have Millwood as Plan A. They have a lot of pitchers that could be good if healthy and with a new pitching coach, who knows? They are in on Aubrey Huff.
Santa C (Florida): When you heard for the first time that Boars wants 7 years for Damon------what were the very first words out of your mouth, and what did you think at that time?
Will Carroll: Initially, I don't think I could repeat them on a family channel, but looking at Damon's career, he IS very durable. Durable's one thing, productive into his forties is another. I don't think it will end up as a "real" 7 years. Look at Baldelli or Ivan Rodriguez's deal as a model.
Cris E (St Paul, MN): You've been talking about your injury database for years and you're finally making some use of it. I understand that it's proprietary and all, but can you please release some numbers at a league or position level? Even a high altitude glimpse would be interesting and not gut the entire project's value.
Will Carroll: It's something we're working on. Teams are very reluctant to give out accurate data and we're still developing the adjustments and stats we need to tell what's really going on. Mike Groopman has done some great work behind the scenes, as have Tom Gorman and Dave Haller. I don't mean to tease, but it will be a while before we have this right.
I am working on getting position/age numbers for public consumption, but they are the underpinnings of the Team Health Report flag system.
martyk (naperville, Ill.): Will, in your Will's Mill column you say the two supplement products you recommend to your pitchers are Gakic and CEE-Pro from MuscleTech. Why and what level of pitchers are you refering to?
Will Carroll: All levels, though I mostly work with younger pitchers. GAKIC gives an immediate increase in muscle torque without dangerous side effects and CEE-Pro is a creatine product that is very consistent and helps pitchers recover. Those are products I've had tested for purity and consistency, though I'm sure there are other creatine products you could find that are as effective. GAKIC is a patented product and one my pitchers have seen immediate results from.
mikebrown (Chicago): What's Jim Hendry smoking?
Ryan Dempster, Scott Eyre, and now Bob Howry...? I guess those contracts don't look quite so catastrophic when big-name "Closers" are signing multi-year deals for $9+ mil per season, but really - do players like Dempster, Eyre, & Howry need multi-year contracts?
What's the injury liability and how many inning do you expect those three to pitch in the next three years?
Will Carroll: Hendry is paying for certainty and the Cubs certainly have the payroll room to overpay when need be. It took longer deals to get them to sign, so in that case, yes, he needed to do it. All older pitchers have an injury risk, but Dempster's smoothed his mechanics since coming back from TJ and Eyre and Howry have been relatively healthy. Add in Scott Williamson and maybe Baker won't be so tempted to take his starters so deep.
PT Love (Chicago): Since he started the Indians rebuild, Mark Shapiro has largely avoided longer-term risks, tending to go for calculated 1-2 year risks. Now rumor has it he might offer 3 years guaranteed to Trevor Hoffman. My question: what are the chances a 40-year-old Hoffman will be worth $7-8 million in 2008 (should the 3rd year guarantee be necesary to sign him)?
Will Carroll: That's more a question for PECOTA than for me. Hoffman has several suitors and that 3d year may be necessary to get him. I wouldn't do it, but there's a reason Shapiro and his team are so successful.
Scartore (Cincy): Which of the Reds OF's goes away, or can we make the Mayor Sean Casey evaporate?
Will Carroll: I think Kearns is the most likely. He has some upside and could fit in KC or Chicago, but he hasn't shown much since running into Ray King. Casey's also drawing some interest.
Every time I see Wily Mo Pena, I think Sammy Sosa. I think that's his up and down side.
Amanda (Denver, CO): Will the Royals sign anyone at the winter meetings or are they offering monopoly money?
Will Carroll: If Reggie Sanders and Jacque Jones are anyone, they could get something done. Jones has several suitors as well, so I wouldn't expect him to get done quickly.
WorcesterGray (Princeton, MA): Thanks as always, Will, for taking time to chat with us. A couple of shortstop questions. BP seems to be mixed on J.J. Hardy's potential. Did his strong second half with the bat change any minds? Are there still lingering concerns about how well his shoulder will hold up long term at the position?
And with Furcal in Dodger Blue, does it look at this point like the Cubs' SS job is Ronny Cedeno's to lose?
Will Carroll: It's a nice change. Hardy's an interesting case - he's got some health problems that really have retarded his development so he's not as "advanced" as his years would make one think. He's definitely solid with the glove but the Brewers don't have the talent -- yet -- to carry a pure glove. I think this year will be very telling for Hardy's future value.
I do think Cedeno's option one, though Lugo would be a pretty good fit.
Scoresheetwiz (Toronto): What is your take on Carlos Beltran? Why did he have the worse year of his career last year after 7 years of essentially slow steady improvement? Will he get back on track?
Will Carroll: I think it was an adjustment year. Shea is a tough park for some hitters. I also think he had some injury problems that Ray Ramirez was able to minimize, though they also managed to keep it secret if true. I like him for next year, but that's not really going out on a limb.
Sorry for the delay. Something starting to happen here.
wce (Houston): Is there any, ANY talk at all about the Astros adding some offense? I believe one more bat might have brought the title to Houston instead of giving us the dubious distinction of playing in the "Closest Sweep Ever".
Will Carroll: The Astros were in early on Abreu, but I dont think Backe and prospects will ever get it done given some of the other rumored deals for Abreu. The Astros are more likely to tweak than overhaul.
Rob in WI (Kenosha): Will,
Great work as always. What do we expect from Wade Miller this year, and how worried should the Brewers be about Ben Sheets in 2006 and beyond?
Will Carroll: Not much on Miller and quite worried on Sheets. The Brewers will be watching him closely and monitoring his efficiency and conditioning.
misterjohnny (Los Angeles): Slightly off topic - Other than "Saving the Pitcher", do you recommend any books/videos that would help me teach my T-Ball age son proper mechanics (throwing and hitting)?
Will Carroll: The ABCA puts out some great books on teaching the game. I'd highly recommend those.
craigburley (Toronto, ON): AJ Burnett was a yellow in last year's THR; does the healthy year move him up or is he still there?
Will Carroll: I'll guess he's still yellow. I haven't begun running the numbers but his age, injury history, changing teams and leagues, and mechanics aren't going to be positive adjustments.
I don't HATE this contract as much as most, I just hate taking on this risk for this long. ALL pitchers are risky, some more so.
mike (DC): Sidney Ponson is growing his hair back, has gone months without a drink, and weeks without punching a judge on a religious holiday; What kind of deal can he expect next year? How much of his $10 mill will he see from the O's?
Will Carroll: He's going to be an interesting case. He's clearly talented and could be a cheap pickup for the right team. Let's hope it works out. I can just tell you I wouldn't sign him.
Andy (Wheaton): What's the word on Nomar. New York? Cleveland? Chicago? Somewhere Else? Is there reason to think he can either 1. play the outfield without one of his legs falling off or 2. hit well enough to play first for someone?
Will Carroll: Pittsburgh and Baltimore seem the most interested. Nomar as a super-utility player, playing five days a week at various positions, is something that could work out. Expect 400 PAs from him -- and pay him for those, with some incentives -- and good things could happen.
Anders (Stockholm, Sweden): hi Will!
ANY Giants rumours at all?
Will Carroll: The Giants are pretty quiet, with only an offer to Matt Morris known. They're a better team when they get that Bonds guy back, so I'd expect them to be more active at the trade deadline than in the off-season, letting them plug holes rather than trying to guess what those holes will be.
woody (boise): It seems that pitchers are returning to action sooner than ever from Tommy John surgery. Is 8-9 months recovery time for pitchers the least that can reasonably expected or is it possible in the future we'll see <6 month recoveries?
Will Carroll: Good rehab. One of the most under the radar hires is Mike Reinold, a PT that's worked with Jim Andrews and Kevin Wilk, by the Red Sox. I know I'm biased, but good medical staffs win games and save money. I hope someday we see Stan Conte or Ken Crenshaw named as hot free agents.
John Carter (Toronto): What are the chances David DeJesus and Brad Radke will fully recover from their shoulder issues suffered near the end of the season last year?
Will Carroll: DeJesus should be fine, but Radke's a more interesting case. With him, injury and decline are tough to separate, yet he's still probably going to be a solid back-end starter for the next couple years.
kmdarcy (San Juan, PR): Are MLB and the MLBPA meeting with players to clearly explain the "steroids" policy? Is there some type of independent body that will test supplements for players to let them know if supplement X is acceptable or not? Are players so scared of taking something with banned contents that they aren't taking anything? Oh, the questions that I have on this issue...
(By the way, I enjoy your work.)
Will Carroll: They will. At Jamey Newberg's function last night, several Rangers prospects talked about their experience with drug testing and yes, they're scared. There is a number they can call to see if something's clear ... err, okay to take. We haven't yet learned who will be the "independent body" and that is a big part of making this policy work.
poldytow (Big Blind): Assuming the D-Rays move Lugo, is Upton the opening day SS, or do they go get a stop-gap?
Will Carroll: I'd guess stopgap. Someone like Alex Gonzalez (Marlins version) or any of the freely available shortstops scattered around baseball. Upton will be up by June, if not before, and is part of a very bright Rays future. I *really* like that team, just not their ugly caps.
Andy (Wheaton): What's the next frontier in injury prevention/rehab? Considering the previous question abou TJ surgery, where is the next big breakthrough coming from?
Will Carroll: Shoulders. Fixing that complex joint is getting better, but is a decade or more behind elbow. I really think advanced conditioning programs like Mark Verstegen's will also become more commonplace, especially if teams start bringing in more and better strength and conditioning coaches.
Random note - Brandon Wood was in the lobby yesterday and he looks small. Really small. You wouldnt see the guy and think baseball player, let alone one of the top prospects in the game.
Denny (St. Louis, MO): Any new features/books coming up from BP? How's the 2006 Baseball Prospectus coming along? Thanks for the great work!
Will Carroll: The book is in process and I'm really looking forward to reading it. Lots of good writers and hard work going on. We have a lot of ideas for 2006 and are always looking to keep improving.
Will Carroll: Thanks for all the questions - I'm sorry I couldn't get to all of them, but I have to get back out to the floor. Be sure to listen to the Baseball Prospectus Hour on MLB.com Radio and to BP Radio this week with our recap.