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Chat: Will Carroll

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday February 14, 2006 1:00 PM ET chat session with Will Carroll.

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Will Carroll is an author of Baseball Prospectus.

Will Carroll: Wow, I'm here early and there are already a ton of questions in the queue. Thanks for all the interest and thanks for reading BP. There are a couple things I won't be doing today: 1. Breaking Christina Kahrl's record for marathon chatting. 2. Discussing players that will be discussed in later THRs. I know that it's hard to wait, but Crash Davis said Christmas morning, not Christmas eve. 3. Incessantly plugging the upcoming books and projects that I'm working on. Wait, I said a couple things, so you'll probably get some plugs in here. I'm as excited to read BP 2006 as you are. Before joining BP, I was a reader who waited and waited and waited for the Amazon box to show up on my doorstep. Now, I'm still a reader, just as anxious ... and it doesn't come any sooner for me! So the Peet's is brewed fresh, the Steelcase Leap is properly adjusted, my arms aren't too sore from yesterday's workout, I have the injury database open, XM playing in the background, and I'm ready. Powered by your questions, here we go!

Andy (Wheaton, IL): I'm in a serious fantasy league for the first time this year and Barry Bonds scares the heck out of me. How many games will this guy play, and is he truly back at full strength after a lost season?

Will Carroll: Bonds is the biggest question in the game. I joked with Tom Gorman that maybe we should just write up Bonds and call it the Giants THR. (Tom, a Giants fan, failed to see the humor.)

Yesterday, Barry Bloom wrote that Bonds would play in 110 or less games. Bloom knows the slugger as well as anyone, so there's something there. Could it be Bonds just frustrated with his off-season? Might Bonds get energized by playing and breaking records? Is PECOTA's optimistic forecast correct?

I think a lot depends on Bonds' usage. Its clear that he'll need more rest, to be subbed for late in games, and that how Felipe Alou manages him both on and off-field is the key. I think we'll see something on the order of 500 plate appearances with rate stats similar to what we saw in his 2005 cameo.

Cal Ripken (Aberdeen): It seems like more youth and high school coaches are starting to understand the dangers of overworking young pitchers. Obviously there's more work to be done, but as this issue mitigates, what is the next biggest problem facing youth/high school baseball?

Will Carroll: Hi Cal, would love to have you on BP Radio.

The biggest problem facing youth baseball is the coaches. They mean well and really try, but so many have little or no training and want to win too much. At the high school level, these coaches work with the talent their given and you can understand how riding the best pitcher you've seen in a generation as far as you can could seem right in the short-term.

I hate to say legislation is the right answer, because it seldom is and because writing a simple law would require hard pitch counts. I'd say we have to work harder at educating the coaches and holding them accountable for not only winning and losing, but keeping players healthy.

M Marshall (Tampa): Will you be my valentine?

Will Carroll: I'll always be a big admirer, Mike. There's a lot in your work that would do a lot of teams some good.

oskithebear (NYU): How much do you expect Leo Mazzone's departure to affect the health of the Braves' pitching staff?

Will Carroll: Good question and one I can honestly answer as "probably not much." There's a couple reasons. First, Leo didn't have a great record of keeping his players healthy. The Braves were good, but not great, most years that I have or have seen stats on. An epidemic of TJS in the late 90's hurt them. Second, pitching injuries seldom just happen. The work Mazzone did will carry over for years, both good and bad. Don't judge Mazzone or McDowell based on what happens in 2006.

Cris E (St Paul, MN): In your piece on amphetamines in baseball you wrote that omst players use them in some form during a season (75% ? "More," was his immediate response.) How much of that goes away under the new rules and how much lives on as theraputic use or cheating? What sort of changes to the game do you expect this year?

Will Carroll: I don't know, Cris. I think there will be a significant reduction. Some are already looking at other solutions -- more coffee? get a therapeutic waiver for ADD? I'm not sure how players will adjust and until we see results from testing, we don't know if the estimates and guesses were accurate or if the penalties are strong enough to curtail usage. From some conversations I've had with players, they're scared to take anything right now, so I'm going to guess we see very low positive percentages for anything this year, including amphetamines, but that we'll see injuries tick upwards.

steve S (Davis, CA): You wrote on Monday that because Brian Roberts' "type of injury is largely unknown it warrants a red light." Can you briefly elaborate on the specific concerns? Since the injury was to his glove arm, is there any concern that it will affect his defense? Offensively, is the main concern a loss of bat speed or something else?

Will Carroll: Roberts almost literally had his arm torn from his body. There has never, in my knowledge, been an injury so severe. Cliff Floyd a few years back was close, but even that wasn't as traumatic. Anytime there is a new injury, one there's little experience with both in repairing it in sports and in assessing it from my perch, we tend to think the worst of it. In other words, absent other info, the unknown is worse than the known and we'll err on the side of caution. I don't believe the injury will significantly affect his defense and I'm not sure how it will affect his batting. Judging Roberts by past TJs tells us nothing because his was so much more severe. Once you see him perform in just a couple days, you'll know he can play but we'll still have concern for complications throughout the season.

steve S (Davis, CA): You wrote on Monday that because Brian Roberts' "type of injury is largely unknown it warrants a red light." Can you briefly elaborate on the specific concerns? Since the injury was to his glove arm, is there any concern that it will affect his defense? Offensively, is the main concern a loss of bat speed or something else?

Will Carroll: Roberts almost literally had his arm torn from his body. There has never, in my knowledge, been an injury so severe. Cliff Floyd a few years back was close, but even that wasn't as traumatic. Anytime there is a new injury, one there's little experience with both in repairing it in sports and in assessing it from my perch, we tend to think the worst of it. In other words, absent other info, the unknown is worse than the known and we'll err on the side of caution. I don't believe the injury will significantly affect his defense and I'm not sure how it will affect his batting. Judging Roberts by past TJs tells us nothing because his was so much more severe. Once you see him perform in just a couple days, you'll know he can play but we'll still have concern for complications throughout the season.

elwudnjake (Columbia, SC): I'm in a keeper league and my last two decisions are going to be huge. I am keeping Ortiz, Soriano, Sheffield, Chavez, Santana and Peavy. Two more to go. Have to choose from Pettitte, Lidge, Pierre, Furcal and Jason Schmidt. I'm thinking Pierre and Furcal, but Furcal's knee is starting to worry me.

Will Carroll: Wow, nice roster. I'd go with the same two you did. Furcal has skills beyond his speed and he's shown an ability to come back from injury and to play hurt during his career. Pierre will have a lot of pressure on him in Chicago since he's the big change from last year's disappointing team. In roto leagues, his value is much higher than his real value but he is likely to reach it.

Bryan (Maryland): What do you expect from Aaron Roward this year? You took him awfully high in your CBS Sportsline NL-Only Experts draft. How did you think the draft went overall?

Will Carroll: I think Rowand will do about what he did last year. The park effects shouldn't significantly alter our expectations. I had Rowand fourth on my list of CFs behind Andruw Jones, Carlos Beltran and Jim Edmonds with a dropoff after him so the relative scarcity caused me to take him a bit ahead of where I feel his "real" value is.

My team came out okay. I flat stink at fantasy games so I have to put out a team that doesn't have obvious holes and hope for some upside. I got that. Now I just have to keep giving Jobu his rum and hoping President Palmer doesn't get a curveball.

Justin Singer (Miami, FL): Will, Great article the other day. I have a friend in the minors who cannot possibly imagine players not take amphetamines. How can MLB possibly regulate personal doctors prescribing players with ritalin, adderol, etc.?

Will Carroll: Thank you. Simple - a league or any entity can put in rules and ban substances. BP could have testing implemented tomorrow and my caffeine intake could be in jeopardy. MLB has placed amphetamines and other stimulants on the banned list and appears to be taking the testing seriously, though it does not actually begin until players arrive at spring training. If a player is taking stimulants, rightly or wrongly, and hasn't followed the procedures for a therapeutic waiver, they will get nailed.

We saw a similar situation in hockey, where Jose Theodore, the Habs goalie, tested positive for a substance on the WADA banned list. It was the drug in Propecia, designed to help him keep his hair, but, being banned, it looks like he'll miss the Olympics despite an on-file waiver with the NHL.

Djigit (NYC): Is Carlos Beltran the most overpaid player in MLB? And what do you expect in 2006 and after?

Will Carroll: Wow, that'd be an interesting list. One of my favorite features on the new PECOTA cards is MORP. Looking at that, Beltran's about right this year, but will have some problems reaching the value on his heavily backloaded deal. I understand why teams do the buy now/pay later model, but I can't think of a deal where it's really worked, even in the case of a shorter deal like Andy Pettitte.

Then again, we also have to change how we think about contracts. Let's say we have a player who signs a 3 year deal at 5/10/15. He comes in and wins 20 games and takes the team to the World Series, then blows out his elbow and is league average in the third year. Would you have paid 15 for that first season? Sure. Would you pay all 30 for that season? Maybe. Average annual value isn't always the best way to look at these things, nor is the actual value.

Handol (Fort Lee): Giambi and Sheff are two older guys that could definitely use some time at DH. Can you explain the value that comes in decreasing the risk of injury by DH'ing a couple of times a week. Besides the obvious "you can't get hurt playing defense if you are on the bench", is there also value in letting the nagging injuries rest before they become severe. If so, can you put an estimate on "how much" value there is? Should the yankees overpay for a RF/1st baseman so they can rest their two big hitters?

Will Carroll: Couple questions in here from CNBC's home base. First, I don't think the Yankees should overpay -- they already have three guys for three positions in Giambi, Sheffield, and Bernie Williams. Williams is the most likely replacement for Sheffield, though he likely wouldn't play RF due to his weak arm. My guess is Matsui would shift over to RF and Bernie or Bubba Crosby would be in LF. Ideally, there'd be some sort of rotation, getting both Giambi and Sheffield a day at DH a week.

The value at DH is that the player isn't on defense and isn't running, diving, and throwing. He'll still have to bat and run, but you're reducing the opportunities for injuries to even occur. Injuries aren't binary, so reduction of risk usually stays linear with use and opportunity. The reduction ISN'T as much as you'd think, but that's in large part because of a selection bias: there's a lot of players at DH because they have to be.

Raz Pez (Laplandia): Do you think something like this would be possible, a group of 15-25 Colleges or universities or Comunity Colleges form their own league where wooden bats are used by every player. What are the Pros and Cons of someting like that taking place?

Will Carroll: Possible? Sure. Likely? Doubtful. There'd have to be some incentive there for differentiating themselves that way. Would they switch back to metal pingers for the CWS? I'd like to see some sort of partnership between MLB and the colleges that would help bridge the cost difference between wood bats and metal.

Morgan (New York): Can you tell us any details about this year's BP (like, when it'll hit the shelves?) thanks :)

Will Carroll: Oh come on - this one's asking me to plug the book!

BP 2006 is scheduled to hit shelves at the end of February and both editors assure me it's on time. There are some great essays in the book like Gary Huckabay's almost subversive look at statistical analysis, Tom Gorman's unveiling of an injury accounting system that blew me away when I saw it, and the normal improvements you expect us to make every year.

We've added in RBIs and saves this year, in answer to a long-standing reader request. We've got more snarky and insightful comments on more players than ever covered and the cover has pictures for more cover curse pleasure!

There's a ton of good and/or interesting books coming out this season. Scott McCauley invented a drinking game for BP Radio ... chug, Scooter.

John (Kansas City, KS): How much potion does Reggie Sanders have left from the fountain of youth? Thanks for the great work, Will!

Will Carroll: Health is a skill. Sanders is in excellent physical condition and over the past decade has barely been injured. His broken leg wasn't complex and he did return normally, if a bit slower than expected. I'm discounting the timing because I believe the Cards being so far up in the division contributed to that. PECOTA is a bit more pessimistic than I am. Sanders seems the type that could go on for several more years as a part-timer if he wanted.

jm010e (NY, NY): The average age of the Yanks starting five is 34: Pavano's already hurting, the Unit still has back and elbow issues - I'm smelling a *disaster* in the making this season, even with the vaunted offense. Thoughts?

Will Carroll: Its obviously the biggest concern. A lot of people asked me this off-season why the Yankees didn't go out and make a signing to shore up the rotation. Brian Cashman can certainly answer for himself, but I think he made the smart play. There weren't a lot of good pitchers available and the guys they'd want were either too expensive or too risky. Instead, Cashman went with depth, hoping that Aaron Small can at least fill in, that one of Pavano or Wright can be healthy at any one time and combine for one good starter, and added to the bullpen, knowing there weren't going to be many nights where Joe Torre was sitting in the dugout come the seventh inning. I'm not sure it works - PECOTA likes them for 90+ wins - but I don't see a better strategy.

Anonymous (Inland Empire): The league will never get rid of amphetamines completely. Even if they test, we'll switch to supercoffee, or 200mg of perfectly legal Vivarin, as many times as we need. I've been playing organized ball since I was 6 years old, and once you get serious, playing travelball, tournaments, high school ball, and camps, you start to drink a lot of coffee. Without that bump, youre not going to be able to perform. It's just the truth. The league would be smarter to make sure that were all as safe as possible. My mom's a realtor, and my dad's a vice president at a bank, and they both drink 5 to 10 cups of coffee a day. Its not a real difference between that and other stimulants.

Will Carroll: What he said.

Ben (NYC): Here's an easy plug. On your blog Year of Living Chemically, you say you're working out with Doug Walker from The Training Station. Why not mark Verstegan's program?

Will Carroll: I am using Mark's program! It's my "off-day" workout right now, going TuThSa between the heavier lifting workouts with Doug. Mark's core workouts don't interfere as much with recovery and seem to help it, at least when it comes to my experience. Why the additional weight training? To get to my goals, I need to get significantly bigger and that's not something you'll get from Mark's functional-focused workouts.

I'll highly recommend Mark and Pete Williams' book, "Core Performance." Check it out and see if you recognize the skinny young shortstop Mark was working with.

Efraim (Sacramento): Will -- if we were to get together and make a big donation to a charity, could we get you or another Baseball Prospectus writer or analyst to handle our fantasy auction?

Will Carroll: Contact me by email and we can figure something out. I've said before that if I can go somewhere and do something good (like generate charity dollars) or fun (like attend a Pizza Fed) and I don't lose money on the deal, I'll do it.

Roland (Wilkes-Barre): Two questions for you, Will. First, what's the best part of BP 2006, and second, who's more likely to see 450 ABs, Frank Thomas or Jason Giambi?

Will Carroll: 1. I haven't seen most of the book. I know that surprises people, but I'm just as excited to see it as you. I mentioned the Huckabay and Gorman essays (I've read Tom's and it's awesome) and there are certainly teams and players I want to read.

2. Giambi. I just can't imagine Thomas being asked to take that many ABs, let alone reaching it.

El Guapo (south of the border): For roto based on PECOTA and health issues, who is the better pick: *Blalock 282/349/510 with his 32% breakout rate, *Glaus 269/369/541 in only 543 PA, *Chavez 271/354/479 who will likely be undervalued after his sub-par 05.

Will Carroll: Wow, Roto based ... for that I'll go to the soon to be unveiled new PECOTA Fantasy Manager. I used it for my recent draft and loved it. If you aren't a BP subscriber, consider the Fantasy subscription (or, it makes a great gift!) because you get access to this and more.

PFM, using both leagues and basic 5x5 rules and parameters has Blalock at $22, Chavez at $17, and Glaus at $14. So there you go.

ChuckR (Addison, IL): Thanks for noting that the White Sox 2005 success (specifically the pitching staff usage) was more than 'luck', making you apparently unique from the BP stable. Do you think the way Cooper and Guillen handled their pitchers will be appreciated by the rest of the league soon, or will the Sox enjoy some advantage going forward the next few years?

Will Carroll: I think you underestimate just how far we came around on this. Luck isn't a bad word; I'm sure that the ring fits just the same whether you were lucky or not. I'll admit not believing in the White Sox and I'll admit being wrong on some things. Kenny Williams has really become a good GM, Ozzie Guillen is a gut-level manager who had a great streak of decision making as well as the loyalty of his players, and Don Cooper kept his pitchers healthy.

I hope that they continue to focus on pitch efficiency, on correct usage of the bullpen, and that characters like Ozzie always have a place in the game. Advantage? That's going a bit far. They weren't significantly better than teams in their own division let alone the league, so losing just a bit of luck could leave them at home come next October. That wouldn't make them a better or worse team; just ask the Indians.

BH3089 (Boston): How seriously should Josh Beckett's concerns? Are blisters something you think he can finally get rid of and pitch 200 innings for years in Boston or is this a serious red flag?

Will Carroll: Beckett's concerns are serious, but they are known and have some small advantages. The blisters have kept him from racking up crazy numbers at a young age, even going deep into October. Is he likely to pitch 200 innings? No, that's a pretty high threshhold and he's never done it before. The Sox have some pitching depth, so if he got 30 good starts and was ready in October, wouldn't that be success?

How about this? Beckett throws every fourth day, limited to 80 pitches. He gets 40 starts averaging five innings. Is that a success for the Red Sox?

Phil (Austin): Bill Hall v Felipe Lopez. I see Lopez being touted WAY high in some mock drafts, and Hall suffering due to PT concerns. From an analytical pov, I see two very similar career paths - promoted before they were ready to handle MLB pitching ... had some up and down years ... big breakout in 2005 ... age 26 this year. How big a delta should there really be?

Will Carroll: When I see "delta" I think airline and blues, so I won't get technical here -- because I can't.

I saw Bill Hall in Indy and was insanely negative. He didn't look like the type of player that could make the jump. He matured, he worked hard, and ... well, there were some other changes as well. (check his day/night splits last season) While quantifying the components of makeup is still a ways off, Hall was always known as a hard worker and there's something to that.

All that said, Hall will have a hard time finding at-bats. He'll back up at four positions and is insurance for Corey Koskie being so bad that he makes giving up next to nothing a bad trade. Even then, Corey Hart has more upside. I'll take Lopez for fantasy, but guys like Hall have serious value in the real game.

Evan (Vancouver, BC): How do you chose the order of the THRs?

Will Carroll: It's mostly random. There's no reason the Orioles were first. I rotated East, Central, West through the run, but that's really the only pattern you'll find. There are a couple teams that had some big question marks where they'll run later just so we can get a look at the players in spring training.

Michelle (Akron, OH): Who do you think is the most medical-savvy franchinse in the game? Thanks!

Will Carroll: Milwaukee and Tampa Bay are right up there. Both organizations, from bottom to top are on the same page with medical staffs, coaches, even scouts as a part of a system to keep players healthy. There are more really good teams led by good staffs - Cleveland, Toronto, and Houston come to mind - and there are teams like Arizona, Boston, and St. Louis that are making it more of a focus.

I'm *not* comparing myself to Bill James, but we're seeing things happen in injury analysis that are comparable to statistical analysis. There has always been some, but it's beginning to spread and someday, it will just be an accepted part of the game. I'm not the first injury analyst -- that's Rick Wilton -- but I do think I've made a lot of strides in the past couple years getting the idea accepted by front offices and fans.

jimbeau (left coast): How about a carrot instead of a stick...MLB partnership with High School Athletic Associations, etc. (or even HSAA on their own tapping a little bit of state education funding), to provide financial support to high school baseball partly based on keeping players healthy. School budget impacts could lead to coaches jobs' impact which could lead to keeping them healthier.

Will Carroll: Too complex a problem. Glenn Fleisig, one of the smartest guys I've ever met, compared pitching injuries to smoking. No one gets lung cancer on the first puff and some never do, but we should be smart enough not to hand a pack of Kool's to a 12 year old. Or an 18 year old. Or a 22 year old.

The damage is cumulative and insidious. (Small pause as I schedule a radio interview at 6.20p Pacific on Vancouver's Team 1040.) Let's start with following the USA Baseball guidelines for youth pitchers and see if that works.

Michelle (Akron, OH): As a flip question, what teams are the most inept in the medical field (cough!kansas city!cough!cough!) Thanks again, Will :)

Will Carroll: I've got to talk to all 30 teams. Well, 29. Just look at the results and they speak for themselves.

Phil (Austin): If you could tell the average club to do *one* thing to cut down on injuries during the season, what would it be?

Will Carroll: Empower the trainer to do whatever he feels is necessary to reduce injuries. Give him the tools and authority to do so, then hold him (or her - there are female ATC's in baseball) to their results.

And pay them more.

Will (Watertown, MA): If your the Tampa Bay's GM who's playing that lovely outfield in August and September?

Will Carroll: I'm too old to be a GM, but if I were, I'd love to have that problem. I'd go with Crawford, Gathright, and Baldelli at the start of the season, then deal Gathright for some pitching once Delmon Young proves he can hit at Triple-A. August sounds about right, probably sooner.

Jason (New York): Do you think Tim McCarver sent Jeter a Valentine's card this year? (can't wait for spring training!)

Will Carroll: I wish I knew how to quit you.

Ben (NYC): Who's the Billy Beane of trainers?

Will Carroll: Clarify this. What do you mean, the best looking trainer in the business?

Will (Boston, MA): When do you see the Rockies improving if ever? On his Blog, Buster Olney had an interesting argument for actually moving the fences in at Coors, what do you think of this idea to limit cheap hits?

Will Carroll: Buster's blog is must-read for me. I'll agree on this one. I'd move the fences in a bit, sign a bunch of sluggers and a bigger bunch of LAIMs and see how many 19-18 games I could win. I'm actually trying this in a very difficult Diamond Mind League I'm in.

The Rox will improve when they get better talent. The game of baseball is built on talent and health over the long haul, luck and dominant pitching in the short.

Will (Watertown, MA): You're forgetting about the beautiful problem of Jonny Gomes, DH him? trade him? how about Huff? and Upton looks like he'll be an outfielder too?

Will Carroll: Gomes to DH/4O and deal Huff. I'm not convinced that Upton's an OF and I'd deal with that as late as possible and only after he tried 2B and 3B.

"Too much talent" is never a problem. You adjust, you trade, but you don't complain.

31yonkers5 (tallahassee fla): Mets 2005 projected line-up Reyes Lo Duca (does this make sense to you?) Beltran (should be #2, he bunts) Delgado Wright Floyd (said he wants to bat 3rd or 5th) Diaz Matsui i would go with: Reyes Beltran (how many #3's bunted in 05'?) Delgado Wright Floyd Lo Duca Diaz Matsui/Hernandez what am i not seeing? thanks

Will Carroll: There's arguments for both. I'd keep Reyes off the leadoff slot until/if he improves his OBP. I'd go with a lineup along the lines of Beltran, Wright, Floyd, Delgado, Lo Duca, Nady/Diaz, 2B, Reyes.

Why Reyes 8th? If he's on base when the pitcher's up, most pitchers can bunt or see more fastballs. With his speed, a sac bunt following a steal of second takes on whole new value.

Will (Boston,MA): Do you see Mike Lowell being able to bounce back from a horrendous '05? He can't be worse or should I being looking at Bret Boone 2003-2005?

Will Carroll: PECOTA sees some return and that seems right to me. I like him for his 75th percentile forecast and if he's part of the "cost" of getting Beckett, I'll gladly deal with the downside.

PMcDade (Alexandria, VA): You talked earlier about resting someone by just having them play DH. Has any research been done on when an injury is more likely to occur (batting or fielding), or where (1st base vs 3rd)? Is a power hitter more prone to pulls than a slap singles guy, that sort of thing...

Will Carroll: There's been some preliminary research on both of those. The base risk tables for age and position take some of this into account as does PECOTA in its attrition ratings. Injury risk is very individualized, so I hesitate to generalize at all with most things beyond setting a base and even there, I'd love something more individualized.

Batting or fielding ... you know, that's something I don't know and something that could be tracked.

Will (Boston, MA): What the hell is a LAIM? Lefty Almost In the Majors? Large As Instant Messaging?

Will Carroll: League Average Inning Muncher. I think Jay Jaffe came up with the term, but feel free to correct me.

Ben (NYC): The best trainer, and which trainers are willing to use the most technologically advanced techniques to keep players healthy.

Will Carroll: Ben's clarifying his earlier "Who is the Billy Beane of trainers?"

Best trainer? Wow, there are no unqualified trainers. These guys work hard, have great backgrounds, worked their way up through the minors and have less opportunity than players, and get paid squat for what they do and the value they provide.

If I were a team owner or GM and was given my choice on who my trainer would be, I'd certainly have to look at the guys at the top of the injury rankings, but I'd actually probably go for an assistant trainer who was ready to be the guy.

Will (Watertown, MA): Over/under on Beckett+Schilling's starts = 55

Will Carroll: Under.

Armchair Pitcher (Mom's basement): Worst trade of the two, Kazmir/Zambrano or Nathan, Bonser, Liriano/AJ Pierzinsky

Will Carroll: Easy one - the Giants got a year of AJ for a serviceable closer and the top pitching prospect in the game, plus a guy named Boof. What more could Terry Ryan have asked for? You have to get a guy named Boof or Stubby any chance you get.

elwudnjake (Columbia, SC): Man, that makes life a lot easier. I've been torn about those keepers for a while. We're having an issue in our league about unfair pre-draft trades. With the 8 keepers, one team (that has Vlad, Michael Young and King Felix) is trading Sexson, Colon, Podsednick and Bonds for Dontrelle. Some people say it's an instance of dumping players. Others say, "Buyer Beware. You're a manager, it's your team." I'm torn, but feel that a pre-draft trade in a keeper league should mean players should be kept. What do you think?

Will Carroll: Trading a slugger, a Cy Young winner, and a guy that could win the steals title PLUS Barry F'n Bonds for a good pitcher who'll play on a bad team? Oy.

El Guapo (Boston): Any feelings about Ryan Zimmerman Vs Edwin Encarnacion? Will either turn into a top 5 at 3B?

Will Carroll: PECOTA thinks they'll be roughly equivalent. I'd like to see the pair competing for the starting 3B slot in the All-Star game for the next decade or so. Then again, David Wright and maybe Miguel Cabrera could make that slot awful tough to get hold of.

Art (Springfield, IL): The biggest injury risk heading into this season is...? (Although, this could depend on the World Baseball Classic)

Will Carroll: The biggest risk is Barry Bonds. He's clearly -- CLEARLY -- the one player who makes or breaks his team. The Giants are favorites with him, mediocre at best without him. That said, I've got this bad feeling about Vlad Guerrero ...

Rick (Chicago): At what point is it fair to say a player is still affected by a previous surgery that will improve with time vs. a permenet effect on his ability. Felipe Lopez had some poor defense numbers which some Reds fans would like to blame on his broken ankle from 2 years back. Is this fair?

Will Carroll: Fair? I'd say it's possible. Its very hard to quantify injuries and defense, so you can imagine what happens when you combine the two. There are some cases where an injury clearly affects performance not just a couple years down the line, but for an entire career (see Martinez, Edgar and Floyd, Cliff.) Saying it with certainty isn't always so easy.

John (SF): Hey Will, can I look forward to a Ken Macha Red light in the A's THR? It's about time we start evaluating his mental health, especially if/when he fails to win with this year's team.

Will Carroll: How about we take all the time we spend working on getting manager fired and work on evaluating what they do? I'm not siding with Macha, but I'm also not sure what the guy did to get so much venom. Is he measureably better or worse than Art Howe or Bob Geren? Heck, is he measureably better or worse than Mike Scioscia or Buck Showalter? I don't know the answer and until I do, I'll leave the hiring and firing decisions to guys with more information and personal interaction with the manager.

Except for Mike Davis at Indiana. That guy has to go. And Dennis Franchione too.

tdierkes (Chicago, IL): Around how many innings can we expect out of Justin Verlander? I don't think he's ever topped 120 in a pro season.

Will Carroll: 130 last year, between three levels. He ended up tired last year, but not injured. Ideally, I'd like to see him between 150-170 but I wouldn't hate seeing 190 from him if the internal numbers look good.

Mike Jacobs (Florida): I am a one year wonder or an every day MLB player?

Will Carroll: PECOTA has a crush on you and I drafted you in my roto league. I have high hopes.

skidave (rapid city): How comparable are training regimens, and the process of keeping players healthy across different sports? (i.e. the Pistons have had a remarkable run of health over the last few years--is there anything that cross-town Lions or Tigers could learn from them that you know of?)

Will Carroll: Here's a word you'll hear a lot from me this year: "specificity." There are things we can learn across sports, but baseball players don't have the same bodies, skills, or motions that hoops players do.

Mike D. (Wichita, KS): Prior/Wood/Zambrano. How many combined innings do the three pitch this season?

Will Carroll: 470? I like Prior and The Typist for 200 innnings each, give or take 20, and Wood for 70. Wood could get near 120 if he's healthy and back in the rotation, but given the relative risks on all of them, I think 470 sounds about right.

doggydog (sfran): It has leaked that Adam Dunn played through some broken bones in his hand on two occasions last year. What effect if any will that injury have on him this season?

Will Carroll: There's some conflicting reports on the injury and in retrospect, I can't see in his stat line where it affected him, even knowing where the injury - whatever it was - is alleged to have occurred. Broken bones heal.

Ross (One of those European Countries): would the WBC be more exciting if the teams consisted of rising minor league stars? I just can't get into a team of allstars, where half the stars bowed out and the other half don't REALLY want to be there.

Will Carroll: So you don't like the All Star Game? I'm not saying that the Classic will live up to its name, but I think it's got the potential to be interesting and has great marketing potential as well. Heck, I'd like the Classic just on the fact that it's generated some great radio content! We've had Buck Martinez, Ernie Whitt, and will have the managers of the Italian and Australian teams in coming weeks on BPR.

Handol (Fort Lee): Uh, now that Adam Dunn signed an extension, in what year will he finally become a Yankee?

Will Carroll: What year is he a free agent? Two more years, so 2007 is when he goes home to Houston.

The Bourgeoisie (France): Dr. Carroll name top 5 best pitching coaches in MLB and what is you oppinions Rick "The Fonzie" Peterson of Mets?

Will Carroll: I'm not a doctor, but I'll take it as a compliment.

Fonzie? I don't get it. Peterson is a great coach and on the cutting edge with both mechanics and feel.

I can't really answer the top five portion because we have such a problem defining how good a coach is. Is it talent? How much depends on the manager? Is there a certain type of pitcher this coach succeeds with? So much work to be done with coaches and managers.

PJ (Parsippany): How come the fact that injectable B-12 shots are illegal without a persciption never mentioned in the continuing Tejada saga?

Will Carroll: Good question. I'd bet that Tejada has a prescription. The stuff cleared customs. Someone correct me if I'm wrong here.

doughk (DC): Chris Ray rated red in the team health report? Doesn't seem to make sense considering he pitched 132, 123, 78 innings the last three years with no injuries. This year he should be limited to 80-90 as a closer. Not really a huge change in his role either, as he was a setup man in Baltimore and a closer in Bowie last year.

Will Carroll: First year closers get injured. I can't tell you why, but it's the fact of the situation. I couldn't tell you if it's stress, the usage pattern, or what, but it's there. Ray's rating is a solid red.

dokomoy (Los Angeles): Will all the injuries sustained at/related to the WBC make me cry?

Will Carroll: No, I don't think so. I'm more concerned with additional fatigue, but the Classic will make a nice scapegoat late in the season.

dokomoy (Los Angeles): Will all the injuries sustained at/related to the WBC make me cry?

Will Carroll: No, I don't think so. I'm more concerned with additional fatigue, but the Classic will make a nice scapegoat late in the season.

sharajr (St. Catharines, Ontario): Is there a bias against Canadian teams or JP Ricciardi on this site?. The Blue Jays have been hammered regularly by BP for almost all of their acquisitions this winter. As someone who watched all but 3 or 4 Jays games last year, I find it almost comical that the prevailing sentiment seems to be that this team is no better than it was last year. So, you wouldn't take Glaus over an injured Koskie? Molina over Ken Huckaby? Burnett over Scott Downs? Ryan over Miguel Batista? Overbay over Eric Hinske? Aaron Hill can't possibly be much more pedestrian a hitter than Orlando Hudson. The money spent on contracts shouldn't enter the discussion when forecasting wins and losses. I know the numbers tell some of the story, but in a case like this I think you're all outthinking yourselves. Faced with the reality of those replacements I just mentioned, can you honestly say you don't see improvement?

Will Carroll: Bias? I don't see bias, I see analysis. What you see as bias is disagreement on value. Ricciardi is using his available resources on risky players that have both tremendous upside and downside. If all the players hit their upsides, the team will contend, but isn't a sure playoff team. If more than a couple bottom out, the team is significantly worse off. The Jays are risking a lot on a team that I'm not sure is worth that risk or that cost. I don't know roulette enough, but this isn't betting on red or black; JP's betting on a couple numbers hitting. It could happen, but I'm not laying $70m and my job on it like he is.

Cris E (St Paul, MN): Has there been any progress on testing for some of the fancy designer HGH-grade drugs? Does MLB have a plan for dealing with this or are they sticking with the old favorite: brandishing a list during spring training lectures.

Will Carroll: Say it with me: There is no test for HGH.

HGH is banned, but you cannot test for it. The same holds true with IGF-1, the latest trick in the bag of players -- and yes, it's being used. A player could show up with a needle sticking out of their butt cheek, fill the cup and walk out knowing that they'll come up clean.

The cats are always chasing the mice in this game, but a test for recombinant hormones is not even on the horizon. We'll get to genetic doping long before we get there and then all hell breaks loose.

collins (greenville nc): The inevitable Kubel question: I've heard dire reports about his knee, but USA Today seems to think he's a contender in S.T. for the RF job. Any word? Thanks for doing the chat.

Will Carroll: When you see him run, take him. This is a complete unknown, but once he's running in a game situation, one unknown will be gone. I'm actually more concerned about his ability to hit after a full year off. I keep saying the downside is a Baines/Martinez DH career and that's not bad, but those are two Hall of Fame type players and Kubel's got a long way to go to be in that conversation.

PECOTA is really hedging its bets on Kubel and I'm inclined to agree.

Will Carroll: Three hours is all I can handle and there's literally hundreds of questions left. Thanks to everyone who asked and read and helps make BP and UTK such a great experience for me. We'll do this again soon and I hope I'll see many of you at Pizza Feeds or ballparks this season.


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