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Chat: Will Carroll

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday May 19, 2010 1:00 PM ET chat session with Will Carroll.

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Will Carroll isn't going under the knife, but you can put your questions to him and see what he has to say.

Will Carroll: I'll be starting in just a second. Why does it always seem everyone waits to call me until it's time to do something like a chat? Anyway, fire away - you know my rules for chats by now.

George (Ann Arbor): Any chance of seeing a Puck Prospectus book in some format this fall? Any other upcoming book projects you'd like to hint at?

Will Carroll: There's a chance. I'm not involved with the day to day operations the way I wish I could be over there. It was originally my intention to do an "Under The Blade" report there, but between baseball, football, and my other sport, I just couldn't do it in a way that was respectful to the time, effort and knowledge that the team over there puts into things. As for other projects, I guess you're asking me and the answer's no. I have one idea I was asked to work on that I just can't get moving on and I've taken on so many projects that I'm questioning whether or not to do NFL this season.

Matt (Chicago): Lost in all of the Big Z talk, is the bigger question of whether or not he is healthy. If he is indeed healthy, how do you explain the significant loss of velocity in the last couple of years?

Will Carroll: It doesn't seem like he hasn't been available. His velocity has been pretty steady in the PFX era, so I dont think anything's changed. I think it's the effect of all the innings he had as a young pitcher, the same as Prior and Wood. The smoking analogy works here - Zambrano just started coughing later than the other two. PECOTA's on this one as I think the Dwight Gooden comp is really, really good.

workermonkey (CT): i know its not baseball, but what are your thoughts on brian cushing of the texans? can tumors do that?

Will Carroll: I already wrote more than I ever wanted to about this. Yes, tumors could have done it, but no, he wouldn't have been playing football if he had malignant testicular tumors. The apologists can talk all they want about his intensity and drive, but when you're told you might have tumors, you go to an oncologist. There's massive factual problems with Cushing's story, top to bottom. Even better, we're facing months of talk about Galea's court case. At least the NFL media will sweep their connection to it under the rug. (Yes, I'm bitter.)

Brendan (Chicago): Random, but I figured you were the guy to ask about this. Let's say I, being a tall, athletic guy who can throw a baseball but never pitched, hired a pitching coach because I am obscenely rich (I am not)and wanted to see how good I could become. What would a reasonable expectation for an end result be?

Will Carroll: There's some level of genetics to pitching - either you were given a gift or not - but it's not that simple. Most pitchers have an osseous change in their shoulder called humeral retroversion that seems significant to pitching. I'd say that age would have little to do with how well you could do, but I dont think you're going to go "Rookie" on anyone. There's lots of men's baseball leagues out there that would be interested in someone who can live in the 80's.

mwball75 (Cincy, OH): Cincy is flush with SP, right? If Volquez is back and Chapman hasn't been done in by Dusty, could they be the foundations of a tremendous bullpen come August? Can Leake, et al. hold up till then?

Will Carroll: I dont see any reason Volquez would need or even want to be in the pen. As for Chapman, maybe, ala David Price, but I haven't heard from anyone in the organization that thinks he's headed there. In fact, one FOT I spoke with said they don't want him there so they don't get into a Joba/Feliz type tug of war on role. My worry with Leake isn't whether he can hold up until August, but how many innings he'll have on his arm and how far they'll let him go in August and September.

Frustrated (Allston): Victor Martinez to the Tigers for prospects?

Will Carroll: *giggles* No.

Yank Revolution (LI, NY): Hey, Will! How come I crushed you in our Barclay's Premier League Fantasy Football group? I think you had too many Man City players ;-)

Will Carroll: I was asked to stop playing in, I think, Week 3. Long story but betting is a much bigger part of English football than I knew and there were some concerns of people playing off inside info. Sucks, bc I was enjoying it.

JBCollins22 (Seattle, WA): Fans in Seattle are struggling with the Ken Griffey Jr. question... which is, how can we get Junior to retire instead of having to release him? But aside from that, I have to believe Junior's knees are giving him real trouble. A player who has 642 home runs and hit 17 in 2009 starts 2010 with 0 home runs and 16 strike outs in 92 ABs? Do you know, or suspect, that Griffey is playing through meaningful knee pain?

Will Carroll: There's no evidence. Just because injury is an easy explanation doesn't make it so. Griffey's old. Last time I saw him walk on the field in Cincinnati, I thought it was his dad because, well, that's who he is now. If Trey Griffey was a baseball guy instead of football, I'd say Junior was hanging on to do what his dad did. Now, I'm not sure. What does Griffey do next? I don't see him as a coaching type, but he's never been anywhere other than a baseball field in his life.

Jquinton82 (NY): Do you see the Nick Johnson signing by the Yankees as a mistake? Or do the other injuries and there timing just make it seem worse than it really is from a team production standpoint?

Will Carroll: I think the latter. It didn't stop them from making any moves and it wont stop them from making others. When they signed him, everyone knew what they were getting. At worst, he did nothing and the DH slot opened for either Posada to take some breaks or for Montero to push his way up. They had some chance of upside and still do, but Johnson's fragility has always overruled the talents he's had.

wilk75 (houston): Who says no if the Astros and Yankees were discussing Berkman, Oswalt, and Jason Castro for Vazquez, Montero, and a couple of live AA arms?

Will Carroll: I don't think the Yankees even discuss that.

Robert (New York): Do you think there's any chance Joba Chamberlain is hurt? I know it seems impossible to think that the Yankees would let him pitch if there was even the slightest chance he was hurt, but the inconsistent velocity since his '08 shoulder injury just makes me wonder.

Will Carroll: Chance? Yes. Evidence? No. My lord, when did fans of every team get so paranoid? Maybe it's just me, but that's almost all I hear anymore. "Why is my team cursed?" says the Mets/Sox/Yankee/Dodger fan ... enjoy the game! I really worry about some people, who's day to day life and happiness is determined by the fortunes of their team. It's really unhealthy at that level.

Bill (MA): Two questions: Would the Sox be wise to shut down Beckett for an extended period of time, seeing as back issues tend to be hard to "work through" and does anything about Dice-Ks recent performance make you wonder about his physical health?

Will Carroll: Mike Reinold knows what he's doing, so I'm not going to second-guess the decisions of a medical staff. They have their hands on Beckett and know him as well as anyone, so I'll just report on what they do once they do it. As for DAISUKE, no, he looks relatively healthy but he doesn't have the confidence in his pitches he did in Japan.

Michael (Detroit, MI): If a pitcher's fastball velocity is down significantly (let's say > 1.5 mph and there's no reliever to starter conversion to explain it) compared to the previous year, at one point in the season is it more likely than not that this is a real change instead of just an early season dead arm phase or small sample size? I would guess that we are there at least by now. My immediate concern pertains to Max Scherzer, but it's really a more general question.

Will Carroll: I worry when I see a 10% reduction, but it's not that simple. It depends on his secondary pitches, his pitch selection, whether he relies on his velocity, and more. With Scherzer, I think it's just being out of whack rather than an injury. His mechanics are still relatively new to him, having been changed pretty significantly by the Dbacks. I wonder whether the Tigers were trying to make some changes as well.

cubfan131 (IA): Any word on Travis Snider's injury. He was just starting to hit a groove before he went down.

Will Carroll: None. "Sore wrist" but there's been no clarification beyond that. The Jays have indicated that while he's down in Dunedin rehabbing that they think he could be back soon, even the minimum. Until we see him hitting, we're not going to get much more info ... unless some sources start returning my calls.

wfriend (columbus): I missed you at the Clippers game this week. Looked too rainy outside. Coming back anytime soon?

Will Carroll: Not sure. More likely that I'll go up to Cleveland. It was kind of a fluke I was in Columbus. Had a good time and it's a nice ballpark, so I'm open to it. As I always say if someone wants to put together a Pizza Feed or Ballpark Event, I'm always up for it.

Robert (New York): Would Jermaine Dye be a good fit for the Yankees at DH now that Johnson's out long-term?

Will Carroll: If his price has dropped and the Yankees think he's an option, sure. He looked really bad at the end of '09, so I'm not sure if he's shot. With what he was asking during the off-season, no. I'm not sure Montero's not their best option there now.

Will (Mactaquac): We hear from time to time of pitchers ruined by injuries, but does that happen to hitters, too? I don't mean like Nick the Sick failing to get on the field regularly; rather, the loss of some tool that makes performance tough. Thanks.

Will Carroll: Usually legs for a speed player. An example's not coming to mind, but I'm sure the readers will chime in.

Sophist (Chicago): In light of last night's use, Phils fans are wondering about the possible overuse of Halladay. 132 pitches (he seemed to be laboring in the late innings too) in May seems like too many. According to some in the Phila. press Halladay has logged more innings (70.1) and thrown more pitches (1,006) in his first nine starts than he has at the start of any other season in his career. What should Phils fans be looking for to see if Halladay is being overused? If nothing else, those last 1 or 2 IP from him last night seem unnecessary.

Will Carroll: Halladay seems to actually enjoy the heavy usage and absent any sort of performance or physical sign, there's no reason not to do so. The thing is, we don't know what he can do because he hasn't done it and there's been no real progressive development. If you said "Who can go 130 every time out?", Halladay would be near the top of my off-top list with Sabathia, Livan Hernandez, Pettitte, and Lincecum. I think the bullpen situation is affecting his usage right now, but that's kind of smart. I'd like to see them pull him when they can, but the concept of reliever is to bring in another pitcher who's better right then -- is 100% of Jose Contreras better than 70% of Roy Halladay? 60%?

Paul (DC): Will Brandon Webb's shoulder see any action in Phoenix this year?

Will Carroll: I'm leaning yes. The way Jeff Francis came back has to make Webb's fans happy, though looking at the comparitive timelines isn't that good for the Dbacks and their one-year deal.

Robert (New York): Re: hitters ruined by injuries: Pete Reiser?

Will Carroll: I don't know Reiser. I have almost no baseball history in my tools.

Will (Mactaquac): You touched on Sizemore today, but is there any chance he's just not going to get over last year's owies? That's the fear behind my earlier question. I just like the big lug.

Will Carroll: First, he's not that big. I've stood next to him several times and I don't think he's actually 6'2. Second, getting a bruised knee doesn't have anything to do with abdominals or bone chips. I'm curious about whether he just doesn't rehab well. The guy's led a pretty charmed life, teacup aside.

Rob (Houston): Jason Kendall tearing up his ankle, perhaps?

Will Carroll: He came back and had a pretty nice career after that. Honestly, would anyone have seen that BRUTAL injury and expected he would turn into one of the most durable catchers in the game? He's caught 1900 games and is two years younger than Ivan Rodriguez, who's got the record at 2300. I dont think he'll catch him, but it's pretty amazing.

Robert (New York): Reiser was a five-tool talent who came up with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1940. He hit .343/.406/.558 as a 22 year old in 1940, but he had a habit of running into unpadded walls at full speed, with one collision so bad that I think he was given last rites in the clubhouse. He had chronic headaches and was never the same, plus he also lost 3 seasons to WWII.

Will Carroll: There you go. Walls won, even back in the day.

formersd (San Diego): Hitters ruined by injuries - Dickie Thon, Tony Conigliaro.

Will Carroll: Ah good ones. Dramatic beanings ... and yet we'll make fun of the guys who wear the big helmet.

dianagramr (NYC): Hitters ruined by injuries: How about Edgar Martinez ... in the sense that injuring that hamstring on that bad dirt infield in Vancouver during a ST game many years ago relegated him to DHing, and thus (in retrospect) lessened his chances for making the Hall? Or did being relegated to DH ENABLE him to focus on being the great hitter he was?

Will Carroll: I think he overcame it and is HOF-consideration worthy. (I'd vote for him.) Harold Baines is another ones that come to mind. I think your last point is a big one. We don't know how his career might have gone.

Ethan (Pittsfield, MA): Both the Beckett and Sizemore injuries almost feel like excuses for poor performance to me. Maybe give them a 15 day break from the action - thoughts?

Will Carroll: That's certainly a possibility. I'm not saying either is faking, but it's a chicken and egg thing. If they were playing well, would we be worried? A lot of players aren't 100%. With Beckett, it's his demeanor change that has surprised me. He used to be fiery on the mound. Did his big contract and impending marriage throw him off?

Phil (NJ): Will, just wanted to pass along some breaking news on Carlos Beltran. Apparently he was able to nap this afternoon without pain, and that included waking up for a trip down the hall to the bathroom. He's planning on walking outside to the porch for a glass of iced tea at some point, after which he'll be re-evaluated by team doctors.

Will Carroll: Tell you what, let me take the cartilage out of your knees and laugh at you as you try to run.

Susan (New York): Which playoffs are you enjoying more, the NHL or NBA playoffs?

Will Carroll: NHL. I haven't watched more than five minutes of the NBA playoffs. I only watched that bc RUWT gave me an alert and by the time I turned it on, the Celtics had pulled away. The only team that intrigues me at all these days are the Thunder, mostly because that might be the best story in sports. Simmons' next book should be the basketball version of Moneyball, "Zombieball."

Phil (NJ): Please don't get touchy, Will. I was trying to poke fun at the overcooked reporting of his rehab by the local media here. Didn't mean to offend you or those without cartilage in their knees.

Will Carroll: It is overcooked, but that's what writers are told to write these days. Cover everything. It's great that we're getting minor league games, but the TMZ-ization of the sports media drives me nuts and I'm a guy who LOVES rumors and scoop. I just think that things like that take away from the actual work of the medical staffs and the hard work that guys go through getting back. I keep pointing to Michael Schlact's blog/twitter because he's documenting the hard, daily-grind work that he's going through to come back from shoulder surgery, something most people just don't understand.

Richie (Washington): Say 'What!?' about this humeral retroversion thing?

Will Carroll: James Andrews and his ASMI crew did what's considered the definitive study of it. I know it's online if you search for it. It's REALLY, REALLY technical but hearing him and Neil ElAttrache and Keith Meister talking about it at a panel a couple years back was amazing. For me. For most people, bore them to tears probably.

Dan (Brooklyn): I saw your note on Jorge de la Rosa in UTK today -- is he more like 2-3 weeks away or 2-3 months away?

Will Carroll: Best comps for him were 6-8 weeks, so I'd say more to the former if all goes well.

Robert (New York): Could Reyes be someone who has been worn down by cumulative injuries to the point where he's lost pure athletic ability that he'll never get back?

Will Carroll: Possibly, but he was also at a ridiculous athletic level. His 80% is well over most people's 100%. It gets back to that BBTN chapter "What if Rickey Henderson had Pete Incaviglia's legs?" That he has a career at all is a testament to people like Vern Gambetta. Maybe he adjusts. I think I said that I wondered if Reyes would start hitting for more power to take some load off his legs and I still wonder about that.

don (lansing): any sense of what to expect out of Brian Roberts when he gets back? Second base seems like a tough place to play with back problems.

Will Carroll: Can't say I'm too optimistic. Things went so bad so quickly with his ab strain that I'm not sure how healthy he ever was. If he's just in a maintenance state, that's really not good for him in the short or long term. They're giving him enough time to really heal up, so there's certainly hope.

Ratcatcher (RTP): Brad Lidge - toast or pop-tart?

Will Carroll: Im curious to watch this one. The idea that they were going to Synvisc his elbow tells me that they know what's going on and that it's a grinding. I still think he can be effective, but I'm curious how they'll maintain him and at what level he can be maintained.

Richie (Washington): Hey! My impression was Phil (NJ) was making fun of reporting overfascination with Beltan's rehab, rather than Beltran. Take a chill pill, Will.

Will Carroll: You have to remember that I see it over and over and over. Sometimes, I'm human and respond. I'm a jerk, a small, grudge-holding person and I make no secret about that. I realize that the fiftieth person who asks me a WATG doesn't realize he's the fiftieth and that he has a valid question, but it doesn't make it any less frustrating. People seem to think I hold back stuff. I write everything I know in the time I have.

Phil (NJ): Carlos Guillen's not the most durable cat around already, and now he's going to be moved from the outfield to 2nd base after he returns from the DL. Is there a concern that he will be susceptible to other injuries due to the position change? Is it wise to make a move like this in-season?

Will Carroll: It's an interesting one. There's some short-term position change risk, but Guillen's played there before. I'm sure the Tigers thought this one through and said this was the best way to get Guillen into the lineup and maximize what they had. I'll be watching to see how it works out. I do think they're going to need to buy him some rest and I don't know how Leyland's going to do that yet.

Bobby (Toronto): Is Ricky Romero for real? About a year and a half ago, most people said he was a huge bust.

Will Carroll: I remember talking about Romero with a guy who railed about what the scouts knew and didn't know, reminding me how little scouts added to the conversation, and now works ... as a scout. Of course, I am not a scout, am amazed at the insights and techniques of scouts, and remember that I liked Romero better than Ryan Braun at the time. (Did I mention I am not a scout?)

Jquinton82 (NY): whats more interesting: NBA Playoffs, or the developing Lebron watch?

Will Carroll: The Lebron watch is going to end up being an amplification of everything I hate about sports media. I saw someone's doing a thing on how every team would be changed by Lebron coming to them. Look, he's not going to the Pacers. He's not going to be a Jazz or a Grizzly. Lebron (and Nike) will play this out despite it being a pure lifestyle decision for him.

George (Chicago): Ryan Theriot's abrupt transformation from short shortstop to 2bman has, from a fan's eye view, gone off pretty much without a hitch defensively. Should a fan be even a little concerned about a greater injury risk? I mean my 7 year old daughter would be crushed if the riot wasn't playing at all.

Will Carroll: There's always a minor positional change risk. 2B is one of the tougher ones, but here's an interesting thought -- how many times does the play that really is the danger happen? Someone hit Retrosheet and count up how many times the average 2B has his back to a barreling runner? Some of the time, the runner's really not a threat. Sometimes, the 2B will get it in time and cross the bag, never really in danger of the runner. Really though, the risk is in that one awkward time where the move isn't automatic and the play is a bit unlucky. There's a very random element to traumatic injuries.

Josh (Wyoming): Is it possible to make a safer batting helmet that also looks "cool" to ball players? I've been snowboarding for years and I've noticed helmet use seemed to increase when companies came out with cooler designs.

Will Carroll: Its obviously possible. The big Gazoo design is obviously ineffective because people won't wear it. Would a smaller helmet be less effective? Yes, but could you find a midpoint? I'd think so. Insurance makes it tough to get market innovation in safety products and the status quo likes quoing along.

Patrick (MPLS): Given his athleticism, I always thought Joe Mauer would make a good 3B if the Twins ever moved him off catcher. Besides the change-of-position risk, how much additional risk would there be to have him play 3B most of the time and catch when Ramos (or whomever) needs a day off behind the plate?

Will Carroll: It'd be a massive net reduction in risk beyond the short term. Catchers take such abuse back there. I've advocated this for a while and would do it gradually.

Ron Burgundy (San Diego, CA): Honestly, Will - how often does "flu-like symptoms" mean "raging hangover"?

Will Carroll: It's been known to happen. FLS is just a nice catch all, a bit more polite than "explosive diarrhea" or "projectile vomiting."

Frank (Vegas): injuries to hitters: how 'bout Mantle?

Will Carroll: That's more a what-if. Mantle had a pretty nice career.Could he have been better? Sure. I could have been better if I could hit a quality fastball.

rogero (philly): is 100% of Jose Contreras better than 70% of Roy Halladay? 60%? Yes and yes. Contreras has three quality pitches working for him. a mid 90s FB, a splitter, and a slide rhe works in when the batter concentrates on the other two. Tries the pen for the first time last year and he's devloping fast. Just look at his numbers so far. Trouble is Charlie's overworking him lately too with Lidge going down and Baez shakey. The Phillies should bring up Scott Mathieson and his high 90s heat for another option. Mathieson is only 26 but has had 2 TJs (passed the injury nexus?). How many pitchers have excelled after that?

Will Carroll: And Steve Phillips thinks its hard to be a GM.

Will Carroll: Ok that's it for me. If you're in the Indy area, we might have an event this weekend, but I'm still working on details. I'm back to the phones and the IMs so that I can answer all your questions, or die trying.


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