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Chat: Will Carroll

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday April 15, 2008 1:00 PM ET chat session with Will Carroll.

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Will Carroll writes "Under the Knife" for Baseball Prospectus.

Will Carroll: Short notice chat, so hopefully I can get to a higher percentage of questions. I'm still working on a way to do an audio version, to save my poor fingers and to get to more questions. So, I've got my pot of Peet's Anniversary Blend, a Graycliff ready for when this is over, so let's get to it. PS I will take some NFL draft questions if anyone's interested.

SnakeDoctor18 (Washington DC): What do you expect out of Francisco Liriano for the rest of the season? Although he wasn't great yesterday, I heard his fastball was around 92 in 29 degree windchill weather.

Will Carroll: He wasn't letting the ball go. Someone did a video analysis of the starts, using Carlos Gomez's piece as a basis (I apologize, forget who and where) and it showed he'd slowed down his delivery some. It reminds me of the first month of Johan Santana's 2004 after he'd had elbow chips removed.

johnpark99 (Boston): Will, last UTK you mentioned time-per-pitch on Beckett and some work you're doing on the subject. Can you give us a teaser? What does this metric tell us?

Will Carroll: I have no idea whether it tells us anything. Of course, a lot of things I do tell us nothing, but at least we know then. My work on velocity loss was a lot like that. It told us something, but the information had no value. Managers and pitching coaches could see it and so could a random group of Little League moms. I think TIPP will end up being a poor proxy for stamina or maybe cardio.

MA (Athens, GA): With the new Unified Start Date, most college baseball programs have moved to five games a week. Have we seen coaches adjust pitching load downward to match this?

Will Carroll: Good question. I'll ask Bryan Smith and Boyd Nation and drop it in UTK once I get an answer.

Rob (Bloomington, IL): Rich Harden vs. Pedro Martinez. Which player could actually make an impact on my fantasy team the rest of the season?

Will Carroll: Both. Martinez has been pushed back now with the hamstring, which is disappointing, but its a conservatism rather than a further physical problem.

danberger (New York): This is more of an injury costs question than an injury question. At what point in the process does the insurance teams take out on large contracts kick in? If a player's career is ended by an injury I assume the club is no longer on the hook for the payments, but what about a player who misses an entire season?

Will Carroll: First, remember that very, very few contracts are insured. I mean a very small percentage. Even then, there's the elimination period, worker's comp integration, and things that are not covered. The standard is a 90 day elimination period.

Matt (Chicago): Will: What's up with the paucity of chats around here lately? You guys have that many writers in the stable and can't manage less than two weeks between baseball chats? Us subscribers/readers love these things.

Will Carroll: Thank you. We were updating the chat software. It's SIGNIFICANTLY better on the back end -- believe me, it was worth the wait.

Joe (Virginia): The draft doesn't seem to be all that strong this year - were the Browns smart/lucky to deal out of their first three picks?

Will Carroll: The draft is deep, it's just not great. Or at least it doesn't appear great. I don't think the Browns will regret not having a pick there any more than the Colts will. There's a lot of talent, but almost all of it is going to be going towards "filling needs." There's almost no talent separation between pick 1 and 5, then again between 6-20. You pick based on what your team's needs are and a bit on preference. Like most years, it's the latter rounds where drafts are made or broken.

Joe (Washington, DC): Will: Do you know of any teams that are doing anything with the MLB pitchfx data?

Will Carroll: All of them are looking at it, but I don't think it's changing what they're doing in most cases. Almost all teams were using advanced video systems, some more than others, and honestly, as good a PitchFX is, the eyes these batters have is better. I wish I could tell you the story about a player you'd probably say "he sucks" about seeing the most minute thing on video, something I could barely see in slo-mo, and being able to note it, make a decision, and hit the ball in a fraction of a second. These guys are all freaks.

ashitaka (long beach, ca): Given the injury, the new medical staff and treatments, and the fact that he made it through Spring Training without really a hint of trouble, should we at all be optimistic about Harden at this point?

Will Carroll: I liked the mechanical changes he made, but if that's what put more pressure on his subscap, then it wasn't exactly a positive change. I think we'll just have to wait and see, like always. That's not exactly optimistic, just hopeful. He showed the talent is still there.

Rich (boston): lots of talk about phil hughes' mechanics lately. Have you noticed anything of importance?

Will Carroll: Nope. The boys over at Saberscouting did a great, great breakdown of him. I'm hoping to do something on him somewhere soon -- video rights keep me from doing something here -- and all I've noticed are that his hips aren't coming all the way through and look a little tight, but they've always been like that.

Jonathan Kiersky (Memphis): Hey Will! Just crawling out from the debilitating Memphis game and slowly coming back to life. Quick question on Pitch F/X- why do they show two velocity's? On a fastball for example it showed that it left the hand at one mph and reached the catcher at another. Am I reading this right? Go Mets!

Will Carroll: You're exactly right. Air resistance slows the ball between the pitcher's hand and the plate. It's interesting bc it was something I never really considered before. I'm waiting for one of the number crunchers out there to see if it's significant.

More debilitating if Rose goes pro -- and he should.

Tommy (OPS, FL): Do you think Jorge Posada will ever catch 120 times in a season again?

Will Carroll: Yeah, he's got four years to do it and this shoulder problem is like an Indy Car having a flat tire. Everything else is working great, but it can't work without that in place. The shoulder injury is relatively minor, but if he can't throw, he can't catch. A more interesting question is whether he should DH; over the next four years, he might be better off at 1B/DH.

Jeff Haack (Madison): Will - what exactly did happen with Prior? Some of us are having an argument and can't remember/find enough of the details. I seem to remember that he had some undiagnosed structural damage, while others seem to think that it was just 'normal wear and tear that everyone pitches through', thus solidifying the argument that Prior was a wuss. What was the real story?

Will Carroll: He had cuff and labrum tears that were corrected surgically in early 07. They were significant, but not massive. Very comparable, I'm told, to Chris Carpenter in ... 01? 02?

Andrew Stebbins (Stafford, NY): A few months ago someone wished that you would do a Medical Dictionary/Encyclopedia for BP; any chance that happens?

Will Carroll: If we could find a publisher, yes. As for getting something on site, that's in the works.

Jason (Blaine, MN): What are your thoughts on Carlos Gomez? I had not seen him play as a Met, but he's been a lot of fun to watch, even if he does look lost at the plate occasionally.

Will Carroll: He's really, really fast and strikes me as the next Juan Pierre. By that, I mean a guy who's going to be far more valuable in fantasy than in real baseball. It all depends on whether he gets some plate discipline, something it will be hard for him to do in the bigs.

Joe (Washington, DC): Will: Do you have any concerns about Joba Chamberlain's mechanics? There have been a few articles recently claiming that his delivery puts undue stress on his shoulder, etc.

Will Carroll: Nope. He does throw significantly harder, which looks slightly worse, when he's relieving.

Tim (DC): Will, any good websites/references for stretching before/after the games, particularly for softball pitchers?

Will Carroll: I'd highly recommend anything in the Core Performance series and the work of Pavel Tsatsouliine. Sorry, don't know of anything softball specific.

Otocinclus (NYC): Hey Will, I've got to ask about Prince Fielder, what gives? It can't really be because he isn't eating cheeseburgers, can it? It's just small sample size and his power will pick back up, correct??

Will Carroll: One would think. No one seems concerned, including Prince. Even if his power is off slightly from last year's high, I don't think we can make much of it. I mean, Gabe Kapler has a wad of homers. Are we going to revisit the wild steroid rumors or say it's because he's taken to the beer and brats lifestyle of Wisconsin?

glen (los angeles): I just traded billy butler for roy oswalt in a 5x5 standard roto league. good deal (ignoring individual team needs)?

Will Carroll: I would always trade for the special player who can help in three categories over the guy who can help in two.

mattseward (Cardiff. UK): Hi Will, Johnny Cueto has made a big early impression but he has now logged a huge amount of innings over the past year. If you were the Reds GM (and after you have unceremoniously fired Dusty Baker) would you set a hard limit on him as per Joba and Bucholz?

Will Carroll: I'm not sure I'd fire Dusty, to be honest. This is the kind of team he can succeed with. I also wouldn't set a hard limit because I don't believe in hard limits. All that said, I'd certainly have some sort of monitoring system, along the lines of what the Red Sox do, put in place immediately and tell Dusty that the system would tell him when a pitcher had to come out.

tschiera (Brooklyn): What is going on with Rich Hill, how does this affect his PECOTA?

Will Carroll: Mechanically, he's pitching uphill and has apparently lost his release point. I have to think there's something more going on there, because that should be relatively easy to correct. Lou has his doghouse and maybe Hill did something to get in there. I'd guess that Hill gets back into the rotation after only a short time.

danberger (New York): A quick follow-up on my earlier question on contract insurance. You said that a tiny percentage of contracts are insured. What percentage of big free agent contracts (say 3+ years, $10M+ per year) are insured? And is there a big difference in probabilities of pitcher vs. hitter contracts being insured?

Will Carroll: A couple years ago, there were about 20% of contracts that were insured. I doubt that number has gone up much. Harder to get insurance on pitchers without there being exemptions that defeat the purpose. Now, every team has worker's comp, so ...

Josh (West Palm): Johan won 20 games in 2004 and set his career high in strikeouts. Isn't Liriano's TJ-timetable set so that we should expect command issues for a bit, or do I need to leave work to go pick him up for fantasy?

Will Carroll: Yeah, but honestly he should get past those quickly. He should be "normal" by now and he's not for whatever reason. Give him maybe a couple more starts to get comfortable, but how he looked in the minors has me really concerned.

Evan (Vancouver, BC): Can you comment yet on Mike Cameron's therapeutic waiver application? I'll take failure to post this question as a no.

Will Carroll: I cannot.

I can however, give you Bryan Smith's take on college pitch counts: No, not significantly. Starting pitchers are not pitching more, college baseball is still a once-a-week activity for starting pitchers. What I think we'll see done, though, is the average IP for a freshman go way up if we ran the numbers -- coaches are just seeing far more demand to use an entire pitching staff. So what that will mean is in 2010, you'll have a host of pitchers with more innings on their arms than they might have had before the uniform start date. Rice's Wayne Graham is still going to throw his weekend starters 120 pitches per game, but the start date is not doing any more damage on those pitchers than it did a year ago.

Attrition for the back-end arms is the biggest consequence, to put it more succinctly.

Andrew Stebbins (Stafford, NY): What are the chances Howard traded? Rumor has it he wants $150mil+. What could he net Philly?

Will Carroll: Well, that doesn't seem completely unreasonable, but how many teams could afford that, need a 1B, and have the prospects that Philly would want. I think we'd end up with a situation very similar to Santana, where the limited possibilities make it difficult to consummate a deal.

jlarsen ("The Burbs" minus Tom Hanks): What's changed with Edwin Jackson? He's giving up flyballs, but somehow 75% of them have been of the pop-up/infield fly variety.

Will Carroll: There's enough weird quirks in his stat line that I feel safe calling this sample size. I keep looking for something he's doing differently, some new pitch, something Hickey saw.

mattymatty (RE: Dusty): "This [the Reds] is the kind of team he [Dusty Baker] can succeed with." That sounds pretty tough to back up, Will. Care to try?

Will Carroll: Older star player with talent. Younger "misunderstood" star in a contract year. Some hustle players. Two established pitchers at the top who can take heavy innings. A couple young pitchers with star potential. That sound like the 03 Cubs to you?

Evan (Vancouver, BC): A few years ago, I remember the rash of concussions in baseball had you looking to other sports (specifically hockey and rugby) for comparables. How did that go?

Will Carroll: Went well, but it's actually the monitoring that's changing. Players in baseball have no one but themselves to blame, flat out refusing any sort of protective device.

Lou Brown (Toledo): If I was still managing the Indians I would put Betancourt in as my closer. What do you think?

Will Carroll: That'd be my first move, though he hasn't looked so good in the first couple weeks. Sample size, to be sure, but his workload was pretty big last year.

Jason (Columbus): Will, Joe Borowski has just been disabled with a 'right triceps strain'. Is that the problem, or is there perhaps more? Maybe less? What are the chances he's thrown his last pitch in the majors?

Will Carroll: Cleveland tends to be very precise with information. I couldn't even venture a guess as to this being the end.

Brian (Brooklyn NY): Has it been proven the a high school pitcher is a bigger injury risk than a college pitcher? If so isn't that almost counter-intuitive? A high school pitcher gets drafted and has the care and watchful eye of a big league club monitoring his work. A college pitcher has his work based solely on the coach he needs to work the player to the max in order to keep his own job.

Will Carroll: Rany Jazayerli's series on the draft was, to me, the definitive word on this, but your point is right. I'd look at the college pitchers that weren't abused or that survived it without problems. Justin Verlander seems like the rosetta stone here, but there's just not enough public info.

Jonathan (Oakland): Tandem starters - why don't teams use tandem starters to stretch out young pitchers, pitchers returning from injury or pitchers transitioning fromt he pen to the rotation? For example, the Yankees could tandem Joba & Ian where one starts and pitches 6 and the other relieves and pitches 3 then they reverse the pattern 5 days later. They could spell Mussina and each pitch an inning of relief on their throw day 3 days after their start. Same thought for the A's with Harden & Duke; Cubs with Dempster and Marshall; I'm sure every team has an example...

Will Carroll: VERY hard to get buy in on that, even at the minor league level. I agree that it should work, but baseball's pace of change is the rough equivalent of glaciers.

jlarsen (Little Italy(Highwood), IL): What took Jeff Niemann so long? Was there something in his mechanics that slowed his maturation? Was he just flat-out overweight?

Will Carroll: Injuries, adjustments, and size. Tall pitchers just take longer in most cases.

Wendy (Madrid): Any chance of you breaking Neyer's 12 hour chat record?

Will Carroll: Zero. I have too many calls to make and injuries happening.

ajmorriso (Chicago): I missed Hope and Faith this year, please bring it back next March. Great series on radio and articles.

Will Carroll: I did too, but that series was so good, it wouldn't do to just try and re-create it. In essence, the Book serves as our season preview.

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Any good articles out there on the Red Sox' medical facility where they monitor pitcher flexibility, etc, as mentioned in this year's annual? Any other teams investing in that area to the same extent?

Will Carroll: Facility? I don't know where that was mentioned in the book. It's called the dugout and the Training Room.

jromero (Seattle): No Big Unit questions yet? What did you think about his outing last night? Maybe I don't remember his delivery that clearly, but he certainly looked more upright and stiff to me. He still hit 93 on SF's gun, though, and he still looked like he could fool righties w/his slider and splitter, so I thought it was a pretty promising debut. What did you think? Any changes to your previous optimism fo his '08 campaign?

Will Carroll: Looked very solid, but a big tentative. I don't know if that was mental or physical, but I'm still optimistic. The splitter was to me his most effective pitch.

Jonathan (Baton Rouge): Will, any lingering medical concerns with Dorsey or Steltz?

Will Carroll: Dorsey -- yes, he should be suing Tommy Tuberville for that unconscionable play. You have to worry about a guy that big with knee and back problems, but he's so talented that he's still top 10.

jlarsen (Half Day Road, IL): Isn't the Rays training staff one of the best ones in baseball? How do we have 9 people on the DL? Just a bunch of fluke injuries?

Will Carroll: Well, I dont think you can blame them for Kazmir or Garza, and Floyd is a given at any point. The rest are reasonable, but the sheer number makes it more difficult to overlook. We'll see how it ends up.

Andy (Bloomington): Jonathan/Will: The Cardinals have been using a tandem/piggyback rotation in the lower levels the past few years. Also, TLR/DD actually used a tandem rotation in Oakland back in the day. So it's out there, but like Will said, baseball is slow to change, take on 'new' ideas.

Will Carroll: The Cards are one of the few organizations that could pull it off -- smart guys with a solid position and nothing to lose. If TLR decided to do it, it'd probably get done, though I'd rather see someone work on a logical development system than tandeming higher levels.

akachazz (DC): Do C.C. Sabathia's troubles so far fall into the Will Carroll department? As in, injury or mechanical issues?

Will Carroll: I wish it were that easy. He's just been bad so far, with no news of any physical issue.

Tim (DC): Will, I was mystified at Papelpon's (and Francona's) performance on Satnite. While it is certainly "what legends are made of", I also wonder if it what DL trips could be made of.

Will Carroll: Here's where it being the Sox makes it tough. We KNOW they monitor this kind of thing and that they monitor Papelbon closely, yet they warmed him up a couple times, sat him a while, then let him pitch an inning plus. Did they do it on a hunch or know that he was fine for it? Do they adjust his work the next couple days, etc. In other words, are the Red Sox not just smart, but using their smarts and how? I jus don't know.

John (Cambridge): What's a big enough sample size of player/days to discern how skillful teams are in keeping their players healthy? I'm guessing you need a lot of data, no?

Will Carroll: Three years seems to work. There's some randomness there and long TJ recoveries throw even that off.

Buff (Austin TX): Back to Borowski for a moment, the reason he signed with Cleveland was that Philadelphia wouldn't give him a second year, and IIRC that was a result of a shoulder problem. Is a triceps a natural cascade point for shoulder problems? I'm having a hard to envisioning the mechanics on that one. By the way, have you heard anything about David Dellucci's hamstring lingering? He seems intensely immobile in left field.

Will Carroll: There's no "natural cascade point" but the triceps is involved in pitching, so its a natural point of injury.

As for Dellucci, I'd guess so, though I haven't seen him play this year. In the couple Indians games I've seen, Michaels has been in LF.

jlarsen (DRays Bay): Something smells fishy in Denmark, regarding Matt Garza's radial nerve irritation. He apparently dealt with this last year, though Gardenhire claims he heard not a word regarding it. Now, he's being told to rest his arm for 2 weeks. If he dealt with this last year, wouldn't the offseason layoff be enough to rehab from it?

Will Carroll: Not if it's irritated by pitching.

Rick (Chicago): Alex Gonzalez of the Reds is out at least 2-4 more weeks with his knee fracture. Is this the sort of thing that could sideline him indefinitely? What's the history of knee fractures and if/when he returns, should we expect a loss of range?

Will Carroll: I don't have a comp in the database ... speaking of which, there's a CHANCE that we make the database public soon.

Indefinitely, no, but again, there's no good comp for a SS. I'd say Keppinger is the biggest obsacle he has.

Nick (CA): Will, have you seen Sheets yet? how has he been looking?

Will Carroll: He's looked great. Can't hurt that he's in a contract year.

BJM (work): Regarding Garza, aren't almost all pitching injuries irritated by pitching? Isn't it something of a cop out to say this and not point at the possible shenanigans going on with the Twins? Is there going to be a Rays feed this year?

Will Carroll: I can almost guarantee a Rays feed, maybe two.

No, some injuries just happen. I'm saying that Garza's condition ONLY happens when he pitches. You wouldn't have seen it when he's playing catch or long toss. It's the difference between 99 and 100.

Tim (Lansing): Will, how much do you think Cabrera's quad injury is affecting him? Alternatively, do you think his struggles are more just him adjusting to the AL?

Will Carroll: Seems to get him on the first step. I can't tell if it's affecting his swing. I just don't have the same kind of eye for hitting mechanics as I do for pitching. It's a big weakness in my game and one I'm working on. I don't think "adjustment" really matters in the league context -- maybe the new park, new routines, expectations of winning, but not league. Do players struggle in interleague play?

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): What's the medical/conditioning budget (including monitoring, etc) for most teams? Is this a relatively high return on investment area (vs. scouting, free agents, etc.) in terms of wins? Thanks!

Will Carroll: Total? Couple million, max. There's a team that I know is around $800k, total, which includes their expected imaging budget. I'd think that there would be a huge upside, though I couldn't guarantee it. I'd hire extra trainers -- three or four. Honestly, if there was a team that would let me do it, I'd take a percentage of what I saved them.

jlarsen (Chicagoland): Favorite Judd Apatow film? 40-year old Virgin, Knocked Up or will it be Forgetting Sarah Marshall?

Will Carroll: Knocked Up.

Small technical problem -- back in a sec.

Cris E (St Paul, MN): Garza coming out now and saying his arm hurts sounds like Liriano coming out later and said his arm was hurt after keeping quiet while they were pitching. This may not be shenanigans as much as a natural consequence of MIN's "old school" baseball culture making players hesitant to admit to injury.

Will Carroll: Yes, I'd agree with that.

Eric J (Norman OK): How about Howard to the Mets for Maine, Fernando Martinez, and another pitcher or two? The Mets certainly have the first base hole...

Will Carroll: Makes sense, but they'd be at a Tigers level of minor league potential and I doubt the Phillies would deal him within the division. Add in that that might push the Mets over the "luxury tax" and balance that with the new park and ... I dunno. Maybe. It's not the worst suggestion I've heard.

Andrew Stebbins (Stafford, NY): Will, you can't be serious about the Contract Year thing for Sheets, can you? Players do just as bad in their contract year (see Jones, Andruw))

Will Carroll: See Baseball Between The Numbers. On whole, players do better in contract years.

Seth Rogan (Cali): Pink eye? How do you get DL'ed for pink eye, Wilson Betemit?

Will Carroll: A) You don't want anyone else getting it.
B) Needed the roster spot.

Will Carroll: That's it for me today. Nate's tomorrow and we'll have a full slate of chats soon. Thanks for all the questions.


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