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Chat: Will Carroll

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday September 10, 2009 1:00 PM ET chat session with Will Carroll.

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When it comes to action on the field or off of it, with players ailing or sound, Will Carroll's someone you'll want answers from if you have questions.

Will Carroll: Sorry I'm late. My schedule has changed recently, but you don't care why, just that we get this started, so lets do it. Quick Note: Black and Blue Report is up at Football Outsiders for Week 1's NFL action.

wilky (chicago): Please comment on Grady's surgery. I thought he could play out the year without further risk - - what gives?

Will Carroll: He could, but the question at some point is why. He's in some pain, it's affecting his stats, and it opens up a slot for the Indians to give more time to the players they need to make decisions on for next year. He could have, but doing it now makes some sense. I'd expected them to wait a bit longer.

Fred (Pequannock, NJ): Will--Joba doesn't throw the consistent 97 MPH heat anymore (oh, and he's also been pretty dreadful for more than a month now). So let's solve this once and for all: is it a) he's a starter so he's not going to throw that hard that consistently anymore, b) he's still suffering from the lingering effects of the shoulder problem last year, c) poor conditioning, d) poor mechanics (perhaps as a consequence of c)? After all, his velocity as a starter last season seemed much more consistent...thanks and I appreciate your thoughts on this.

Will Carroll: Mostly A. Starters regularly lose velocity in pacing themselves, plus you add in the seasonal fatigue factor and its easy to see why someone throws less hard for 100 pitches than for 10. The question I have is whether Chamberlain is a guy who can overcome the seasonal levels of fatigue. The problem is there's no middle ground in todays game. He's either a 200 inning starter or a 75 inning reliever; everything else is failure. What if Chamberlain is really a modern day Marshall?

mattymatty2000 (Philly): Thanks for the chat, Will. What do you think the chances are of Tim Wakefield being an effective pitcher (i.e. not a perennially injured one) next season. What I'm angling at: should the Red Sox pick up his $4 million option next season?

Will Carroll: This is more a question for Shawn Hoffman, but I think the question is one of value -- can they replace his production, even at a reduced level, for the same or less cost. PECOTA gives us a tool for assessing this, but it's career assessment for Wakefield is dumbfounding. Shifting to a partial reliever role, it expects him to throw MORE innings in the next two years but for his value to go down. The other question here is the value of the next option; with his odd contract, you're not just giving up one year, but the right to keep renewing. I think the Red Sox have options, but that the cheap option and loyalty gets him one more year.

George (NJ): During yesterday's SNY broadcast one of the reporters quoted Reyes as saying his current hamstring injury is worse than the ones he had at the beginning of his career. Are they related? How does he look longterm?

Will Carroll: This one's definitely more painful and traumatic. Early in his career, he was just "tight" and had consistent low-grade strains. This is a near-rupture of a tendon, so it's apples and oranges. Long term, they have to get him healthy and keep him that way for a while. I think it's possible, but this is going to cost him a step or two.

cubfan131 (IA): What are the expectations for Brandon Webb next season? Will he be ready on Opening Day?

Will Carroll: Really tough to read. Any shoulder problem for a pitcher is tough, but Webb was always thought to be immune to those innings. Once again, innings are like smoking ... you don't get cancer the minute you light up and some never do.

Steve N (Delaware): I am a reference librarian and was recently asked if there were more sidearmers in the 80s. (Actually the questioner asked about sideways pitchers.) I don't recall this but it may be true. The discussion came around to mechanics. Is pitching sidearm easier on the pitcher than overhand? To my mind the arm strain would be pretty close but sidearm would seem to be easier on the shoulder.

Will Carroll: The strain is different, but I'm not sure about "easier". There's a sample size question and I'm not sure if we have much reliable data on sidearmers. The only guy I know has been analyzed is Chad Bradford and he is *not* a sidearm/submariner.

Jay (NY): What do you expect to see out of Daisuke for the rest of the season? If he starts in the majors again, how effective do you think he'll be? If you were Theo and they made the playoffs, would you rather have Daisuke, Wakefield, or someone from the Tazawa/Byrd line start game 4?

Will Carroll: Complete unknown. I think we'll see a start or two to give him a chance to prove himself, but I think the Red Sox are going to spend the next three weeks trying to figure out how to configure themselves for the playoffs while trying to make sure they get there. More options are always good. I'm beginning to think that Matsuzaka needs out of Boston and into a more "old school" organization. Texas would be perfect, but Seattle might be a better fit.

jlewando (DC): Will, what can you tell us about Jarrod Parker's elbow?

Will Carroll: UCL strain, but no TJ yet. I havent seen where he's throwing again, but I honestly dont watch the minors that closely. There's been some concern about how he's dealing with the injury and not playing.

Christopher (Nashville): Look at any minor league pitching roster and most of the guys seem to be listed as 6'3" and 6'4". Are all those tall guys really that tall, and is there a missing population of Lincecums and Pedros out there that are not being given an opportunity?

Will Carroll: Tall guys, like guys with velocity, get drafted and get chances. Scouts are clear --fast over slow, then tall over short (to a point, 6'6 is about the cutoff.) A 5'10 guy who throws 95 will get drafted over a 6'4 guy who throws 90.

cubelord (DC): The Texas Rangers' approach to pitching seems to have yielded results. Any thoughts on how their ideas about conditioning and pitch counts might influence the rest of the league?

Will Carroll: Its way too early to tell. Scott Servais' system of flexible monitoring is smart, but I'd like to see some organization quit guessing and use a developmental system that is progressive. Oh look, a dead horse ...

Sumi (Monterey Park): Thank you for the chat. Do you think Erik Bedard will make a close to full recovery and be effective for a few more years? Any other pitchers who have made it back from a torn labrum in their pitching shoulder?

Will Carroll: Very few and most are extreme examples like Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling. I don't have a lot of hope for a Bedard return, but if I was his agent, I'd get him to Dave Duncan no matter what.

WilliamWilde (Boston): Roto question. Who would you rather have for next year Fowler or McCutchen?

Will Carroll: McCutchen bc of the power potential, but it's close. Fowler will have more steals, so in straight roto, Fowler's value is probably slightly higher.

Kamryn (Bay Area): Will, I'm sure today's chat will be filled with Lincecum questions. If you would, does the back injury raise red flags going forward, or is this just a one off muscle strain?

Will Carroll: That's the open question here. The back, with that arch and twist, is the one area I've always thought was the "weak link" in the holistic kinetic chain that allows Lincecum to do what he does. I just don't know whether he can keep that healthy, but if one thing breaks in that chain, you can't let him pitch without devastating possible consequences. The Giants are doing the smart but hard thing in holding him out.

jimbeau (Left Coast): Hi Will, thanks for the chat. Do you have any updates on Jake Westbrook and Adam Miller? What does next year look like for each of them?

Will Carroll: Westbrook will be ready for Spring Training. Nothing on Miller.

Scott (Chicago): If Chad Bradford is *not* a submariner, what the hell is he?

Will Carroll: He is a standard pitcher that bends sideways at the waist.

Kdub34 (Washington): Nats fans were really pleased to see Nyjer Morgan respond to the trade from the Pirates. Do you expect a full recovery from his broken hand and similar numbers (albeit not .350avg over the whole year) with the Nats next season?

Will Carroll: He'll recover from the hand, but then he'll go back to being Nyjer Morgan. He's a great guy to interview or have in the clubhouse because of his positive outlook and genuine happiness to be where he is, but on a good team he's a fourth OF. If you have a guy like JD Drew or Josh Hamilton (or Manny Ramirez, for defensive reasons) then Morgan's not a bad fit.

ericmilburn (San Francisco): Did you get a chance to watch Madison Bumgarner's debut on Monday? If so, do you have any comments about his wide delivery, lack of velocity, or future outlook? Much to my chagrin, he seemed to be effective yet uninspiring.

Will Carroll: REALLY long takeaway, more so than I had expected from what I'd heard about him. Odd because the rest is so compact. I like him, never loved him.

mattymatty2000 (Philly): "I'm beginning to think that Matsuzaka needs out of Boston and into a more "old school" organization. Texas would be perfect, but Seattle might be a better fit." Can you actually see the Red Sox, a team with no fourth starter right now, trading Matsuzaka?

Will Carroll: Let's look forward: Beckett, Lester, Buchholz, Bowden look to be locks for 2010, right? They've shown a willingness to go with "scrapheap" guys like Penny, Smoltz, and Byrd, so I don't think filling that last slot is that hard. Add in more prospects, Wakefield, Tazawa, and the biggest issue is Josh Beckett's contract, which I think they'll fix this off-season.

Yngvai (CT via The Bronx): I know this is off-topic, but I'm curious as to your opinion on the chances of Gaborik staying healthy for the NY Rangers this year, and whether you think Messier being added to the front office is going to have any impact on the team, short or long term?

Will Carroll: Going to be tough - Gaborik's never been a really durable player and we don't know how he'll react long term to the hip surgery. We're getting some info in baseball and football on this, but hockey? Messier ... no idea. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't when you put a team great in that kind of role. Can't hurt unless it puts pressure on a coach bc the media starts saying that Messier is second guessing from the suites, etc.

Joe V. (Washington, DC): Will: Since C.C. is already at 200+ innings this season, how would you handle his workload over the next few weeks to make sure he's in peak form at playoff time (especially considering his playoff performances over the past few seasons, where he appeared gassed)?

Will Carroll: You have to balance his fatigue level with his desire to work. He's not pitching as much as last year when he was going on short rest for a month, so there's that. I'd pull him when I could do so a bit early, but I'd be hard pressed to change anything.

LindInMoskva (DC): For overall career value, this point on, who would you rather have Edinson Volquez or a pitching prospect ranked around 80th on Goldstein's top 100 list next year? Neither will likely pitch next year, both have some risk of development, both have some upside. I guess the question boils down to how much you believe that Edinson can regain his status from the injury. I am in a strat league, I could either keep Volquez or cut him and draft someone in the 80th range on Goldstein's next list.

Will Carroll: Volquez will miss 2010, but most pitchers come back from TJ to previous level. That's a major league pitcher with some upside. He'll be 28. Looking back to Goldstein's 2008 list (not 2009), guys at that level are Deolis Guerra, Radhames Liz, Max Scherzer, Jair Jurrjens, Aaron Poreda, and Greg Reynolds. Even with a year of development, we're looking at two guys who have established themselves at the MLB level, plus Poreda who's an upside guy. I'd probably take Poreda and Jurrjens over Volquez right now, Scherzer's a toss up, but then you have to figure out the "bust risk." Which of those guys would I have picked LAST year and am I confident that I can pick correctly? Kevin's an expert and had Poreda under Liz ... I think that bust risk is huge, so I'd almost always go with the guy I know can pitch.

WilliamWilde (Boston): Is yoga practice something that is used much if at all in MLB? NFL? It has helped me immensely in staying fresh for my amateur hardball league.

Will Carroll: Almost none. You think they just make fun of safety equipment? There's a few players that do things like yoga and Pilates. The best acceptance is in integrating some of the principles into a more acceptable workout protocol, like they do at API.

Ira (North Texas): Will Eric Hurley and Matt Harrison return to the Rangers next year, if so, Do they go into spring training with ALL of Millwood, Feldman, Hunter, Hurley, Harrison, Holland, McCarthy, and Feliz in the rotation?

Will Carroll: Both should return, but no, they won't go with an eight man rotation. They'll pick the best five, period.

Dave G. (Clearfield, PA): Will, loved the PNC event. Question: How did Neal Huntingdon's responses and length of time with the group compare to other GMs who have spoken at BP events? Do other teams usually have their version of Kyle Stark there as well?

Will Carroll: Thanks it was great. Neal's time compared favorably to the ones Ive done in Cleveland and Tampa. I think it's equivalent to what we've done in Chicago and San Diego. It was a bit less than in Texas, which is a special case, I think. In Cleveland, we had darn near the whole front office one year. In Tampa, there were a couple hiding in the back, but they seldom spoke up.

jacoblevenson (Brooklyn): Neyer and others have suggested that Bumgarner's reduced velocity is due to the Giants encouraging him to focus on his breaking ball this year. Why would throwing a breaking ball diminish fastball velocity? And, if this is the cause, could we expect the velocity to return next spring or is the loss permanent?

Will Carroll: I'm sure Rob has a reason for saying that, but I don't know of what that reason would be.

tommybones (brooklyn): Speaking of Wakefield, wouldn't it make sense for a major league club to comb their own minor league system for starters who have decent control, fastballs and maybe a serviceable secondary pitch, but are NOT true prospects and have them learn to throw the knuckler, on the chance that this would actually give them a shot at becoming the next Wakefield? Instead of having these pitchers serving as merely roster fillers? If you were one of those starters, wouldn't that be something to explore on your own? Nobody does this and I don't get it.

Will Carroll: First, you have to have someone that can teach it. Second, where do you put them while they learn it? Fill up half your FSL team? Do they take over a slot that could have been used on a younger player on his way up rather than one that didn't have the stuff to make it normally? I've always thought that an independent team would be the best possibility for this -- the Knuckleball Academy, in a way. If it works, you sell the players and profit. If it doesn't you have a great gimmick in a place where gimmicks sell.

Jon F. (Kendall Park, NJ): Hi Will. This may be a silly question, but why don't more players go to places like API in the off-season? If you were running a team wouldn't you make all of your players do that sort of thing?

Will Carroll: You can't make them. If I were a GM or owner ... ha, I should stop there ... I'd build my own facility and hire the best S&C staff I could, then make it worth my players' while to stick around the complex and use it.

Sumi (Monterey Park): Thank you for answering my earlier question. Looks like Koji Uehara is back with the team, though he's apparently not game-ready yet. How concerning is it to have a partial tear of the flexor tendon in your pitching elbow, and what is his prognosis for next year? Can he resume starting?

Will Carroll: It's bad, plus he has a history of shoulder problems. The O's will use him as a reliever going forward.

Jay (NY): What's your view on Beckett? Pitching through an injury, odd statistical blip, or something else?

Will Carroll: I think he's tired, along the lines of "dead arm."

WilliamWilde (Boston): Michael Young is a huge part of the AL playoff picture. When do the Rangers get him back in the lineup? Does he come back initially as a DH?

Will Carroll: TR Sullivan said i t could be as soon as this weekend, which would be stunning. DH doesn't really help - its acceleration out of the box that did this, so it's still there.

ekanenh (Capitol City): Given his annual midseason injury, but also given his low cost and success, isn;t re-signign Wakefield a no-brainer. He's dort of like teh rabbit in a 5000 meter race. Run half the race, then get out of the way. with Wakerfield, he pitches well til the break, while the Buchholzes, pennys, and Smoltzes get sorted out. Seems like an approach more teams should take, no?

Will Carroll: The portfolio theory of pitching ... maybe. I still don't know how well it works -- for the cost of Smoltz and Penny, could the Sox just have put Buchholz in there in April? I don't know, neither do they. I think you just need options, no matter what form they come in.

tommybones (brooklyn): Re: knuckleball academy Whatever plan makes sense is still something NOBODY does for some reason. Wakefield can't break a pane of glass with his heater, yet he's been in the majors forever. If I could throw a 86 mph fastball with control, I'd be all over the knuckler. It's a strange hole in the development paradigm in my opinion.

Will Carroll: A RHP with an 86 mph fastball? Baseball has a word for that: Single-A pitcher.

Why don't they? Cost, time, unknown return, commitment, replaceability. Someone convince me that it's worthwhile -- and remember, I was a knuckleball guy, so I'll be easier to convince than a team.

Christopher (Nashville): Speaking of independent leagues, Baseball America keeps featuring this one guy (his name escapes me) with a hip replacement who can really pitch, and who keeps getting signed by organized clubs, but who never passes the physical on account of liability issues. Considering that ballplayers regularly have reconstructive surgery on all sorts of joints, is this kind of thing a reasonable concern?

Will Carroll: Bo Jackson.

lnodolf (Fillmore, CA): How does adam miller look after finger surgery?

Will Carroll: Like Adam Miller.

Joe V. (Washington, DC): Hi Will. Steven Goldman is concerned that the way the Yanks are handling Joba may be turning him into an ineffective pitcher. So his theory boils down to: "Sure, you might be keeping him healthy, but if, in doing so, you turn him into a crappy pitcher, what's the point?" Steven, of course, is merely speculating and there's the small sample size issue and all that...but I'm curious to hear your thoughts on the matter. Thanks.

Will Carroll: I disagree with Steven, but neither of us is doing more than speculating.

Jason (Happy Card Fan Land....): Will: I believe in an earlier chat you talked about someday branching out into EPL analysis. Playing FIFA 09, I've come across a hypothesis to test that would roughly judge a team's performance: Shots on goal- an opponent's total shots. I know you said that the EPL analysis would mirror the hockey analysis in terms of data to look at it. Is this something that is studied? I think this judge's a team's ability to generate quality chances and a defense's ability to shutdown opposing chances while factoring out the relative ability of the opponent.

Will Carroll: Yes, there's similarities (and differences) between hockey and soccer. I can't talk a lot about it right now, but I think you'll see a lot more as the World Cup gets closer.

mattymatty2000 (Philly): "I think [Beckett is] tired, along the lines of "dead arm."" What is the remedy for that? It's not like the Sox have a ten game lead in the Wild Card, they kinda need to keep throwing him out there.

Will Carroll: The remedy for tired is rest. You bring up the conundrum. Yes, it's really that simple.

hotstatrat (Toronto): Mark DeRosa has been playing with a "torn sheaf near his left writst" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) since June 30. 1. What are the chances he will recover back to 100% of his previous level next April after surgery to correct it this fall? The article (http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/sports/stories.nsf/cardinals/story/01FB7593764E867C8625762D000D4922?OpenDocument) just states he should be ready for spring training if he has the operation immediately, but that doesn't always mean he will be ever be a borderline all-star again. 2. Can you give us readers any tips on how to tell whether a player is in a slump or playing hurt.

Will Carroll: Torn tendon sheath. David Ortiz looks pretty healthy, though he certainly didn't at the start of the season. There's question as to whether that was physical or psychological. As for (2), no, read a lot of beat writers who ask the player and see him every day is my best suggestion.

Hawkeye (Grafton, North Dakota): Adam Jones is done for the year-is the ankle injury something that could linger? How serious is it?

Will Carroll: It's something they wanted to get a good handle on and could have gotten worse if he'd reinjured it, so they had the chance to go very conservative with him and did.

jacoblevenson (Brooklyn): Any world on Ynoa? Are we looking at TJ? Or have the A"s simply been enormously cautious?

Will Carroll: He's 17. Wouldn't you be cautious? Essentially, he's a high school junior.

Charlie (Bethesda): Let's not underrate Morgan - he has a good eye, is fast enough to beat out infield hits, and is a great defensive player. Sure, there are CF's I'd rather have, but if he can hit .300/.360/.380 with top shelf defense that has value.

Will Carroll: And he's going to be 30, coming off a season where he played in the upper tiers of his PECOTA projection. Saying someone is a solid major leaguer like a fourth outfielder is not an insult, people.

Ira (North Texas): Ok, here's the big question. What's wrong with Kevin Millwood? He's been dreadfull the second half. Did the extra innings he pitched earlier in the season wear him out? Should he be shut down? Can he be relied upon for the stretch? Is he right now the number 3 or number 4 starter on the Rangers.

Will Carroll: Shut down? Are you serious? It's questions like this that make me wonder why people can't set emotion aside and make reasonable decisions about their teams. I get that you love baseball, people - I do too. You just have to stop and have some common sense when you're assessing the team rather than making irrational, panicked statements like this.

colavito (Memphis, TN): What is the projected ETA for Shaun Marcum to return to the Toronto rotation in 2010?

Will Carroll: Spring Training, just like it was last Spring Training. I have no idea why Toronto tried rushing him back. Well, one idea ...

Jorge Posada (NY): Cameron Maybin's stance and approach at the plate seem to be improved since his recall. What are your thoughts on him? Is his ceiling still as high as it was before this season?

Will Carroll: You have mistaken me for Kevin Goldstein or perhaps someone who knows about batting stances.

Liam426 (Smithson, OH): Will, I'm puzzled by Josh Hamilton this year. Do you think he is just one of those guys that's always going to be dinged up and have a DL stint or two a season?

Will Carroll: We don't know. He could be. We have 2008 and 2009 to go on, with absolutely no good comp for him. 2010 will be the decider, but health is all that he lacks.

Andrew (Michigan): How about "Knuckleball Idol"? A panel of judges consisting of retired players, a Pitch f/x system, maybe some live at-bats culminating in two finalists pitching a head-to-head game...

Will Carroll: It takes years, not weeks, to master the pitch. I would like to see some kind of reality series on MLB Network or something along the lines of "Knight School" or "Fourth and Long" (except, you know, watchable).

jacoblevenson (brooklyn): I was actually just trying to get a sense on whether there was any word on the severity of Ynoa's elbow injury.

Will Carroll: Sprained elbow, shy of TJ. The A's aren't exactly going to post MRIs on their web site.

chicago (il): you lie!

Will Carroll: And with that, the chat trolls remind me it's time to get back to work ...

Will Carroll: Thanks for those who submitted thoughtful questions. I've always enjoyed these chats of ours.


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