Will Carroll is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
Will Carroll: Ok, I was worried about being late. Instead, I'm early. I'm ready to watch some baseball, listen in on XM, and chat with the best readers in the world. If you have non-steroid questions, those will get priority. Powered by ... man, on Opening Day, do you really need anything to power you? Let's get to it.
tcfatone (NYC): I know Tanyon Sturtze is usually a punch-line around here, but I'm not as down on him as most. I think he's become more of a "pitcher" in the past year and could be a serviceable spot starter. With that being said, I think the Yanks would be better off throwing their top 4 starters every 5th day, not every 5th game, and spot starting Sturtze/Brown for the rest of the season. That would give the 5th starter spot 24 starts over the entire season. Brown's a joke at this point. Agree?
Will Carroll: Sturtze has some value. I recently read an article stating that Mariano Rivera took Sturtze under his wing and it would be hard not to listen to that man. I think your plan has merit; a four-man of Johnson, Mussina, Pavano and Wright sounds good and the dual swingman concept sounds nice. I'd worry that Brown would lose a lot of his value if he's not starting since he wouldn't be an effective reliever, though anything would be good. I don't hate this plan on the face of it, yet I don't expect Joe Torre to have it even cross his mind.
devinreza (Napa, CA): Do any of Oakland's newly acquired arms (Haren, Meyer, Cruz, Calero) look like higher than normal injury risks to you? Keep up the good work.
Will Carroll: Cruz isn't the most "pure" pitcher in the world and is certainly not consistent with his delivery. That shows up most in his command. He'll look great one time out then can't find the mitt the next time. He'll drive a pitching coach (and fans) crazy. I like Haren and Calero. Haren has some drag in his motion I'd like to see corrected. His stride's a bit short as well, but nothing horrible. I haven't seen Meyer enough to really judge, so I'll pass on that for now.
Now Huston Street, there's some nice mechanics.
Kevin (San Jose, CA): What would be your guess on how many games Barry Bonds plays? Before the famous press conference, we thought maybe he'd be back Mid-May. Can a Giants fan still hope for that, realistically?
Will Carroll: Mid-May is a good guess. So much depends on the rehab going well and with the Giants training staff back in charge, I think it will go well. I'm saying May 15th. One of the more interesting factors will be how he handles "shaking off the rust". Will Bonds need minor league at bats? (Can you imagine Bonds going to San Jose for a couple games?) There's certainly room for setback here, but a half season of Bonds is more valuable than many players in a full season.
The Tigers and Royals are getting ready to go. Jose Lima is crazy as hell this early in the season. It's Bonderman I'm excited about, expecting him to make "the leap."
Kevin (San Jose, CA): As a fantasy player who got killed by injuries last year ($38 on P. Wilson, $29 on L. Gonzalez, $20 on A. Pettitte, $15 on Brad Penny), who are the five NL players besides Ken Griffey Jr. that I need to avoid in my fantasy draft on April 9th? Also, may I make a special request for the Cubs THR before Saturday? Love your columns by the way. They are truly great.
Will Carroll: Thank you. Flattery will get your question answered.
That's an ugly lineup from last year, proof of just how important injuries can be, on field or fantasy. The question isn't who to avoid, but how to fairly value them. I wouldn't take Griffey in the first rounds but there's some point where you can start thinking that 300 AB of Griffey isn't a bad fit for your team. Bonds and Prior and Wood are all names that should go high, but won't because of risk. Risk tolerance is something I love seeing at drafts.
I wouldn't pick Penny or Carpenter because of the uncertainty about their shoulders. I wouldn't grab many guys off San Diego - Nevin and Klesko really scare me. Any Seattle pitcher would worry me, especially Felix Hernandez (TINSTAAP).
Southcoast57 (Baton Rouge): Dave Roberts starts the season with on the DL with a "slow-healing groin injury". Just how severe and whats your definition/estimation of slow healing?
Will Carroll: Anything that affects the stride of a speed player is significant. This isn't a severe strain, though Roberts isn't following the normal schedule. I'm unsure if he's being over-careful or whether the Pads trainers are slowing him down early in the season.
"Slow healing" is anything that either is or seems to be headed for a return behind schedule. There's an expected time of recovery for every injury that is always being adjusted as we learn more and as medical technology gets better.
jeff4sf (in my mind, i've gone to carolina): Cole Hamels - I know there are a ton of reasons to worry about him (makeup, his arm, elbow, etc.), but how much should I worry about him coming back from the broken hand?
Will Carroll: Hamels is a guy I love when he can make it to the mound. How much his development is retarded by the injuries and stupidity is up for question.
Oh no - Sweeney swings at one in the dirt. Bonderman's slider is so naughty, it needs a spanking.
Hamels' hand is a bit worrisome until he throws. It's like this with many injuries, an unknown until that first pitch. I don't think it will be a problem though stranger things have happened.
wonkothesane1 (San Diego): Opening Day no-hitter for Bonderman?
Will Carroll: Shhh. Don't talk about it.
If ther'es a lineup he could do it against, the Royals are it. (Sorry, Rany.)
Wow. I've never seen a pitcher actually draw a line to check his mechanics. That's smart.
misrael (Chicago): Standard 5x5, non-keeper fantasy league. Do you go with Barlett or Barmes for a 2B/SS spot. Is there another sleeper middle infielder you like more than either?
Will Carroll: Barmes. They're equal to me and Barmes is in Colorado. (How many times will I spell Barmes as Barnes?) There's a lot of guys almost there - Kinsler, Ramirez - but none that come to mind as better now.
Bryan (Maryland): Which minor league pitcher's mechanics do you like the best?
Will Carroll: I don't get to see a lot of minor leaguers. In Indy, we're looking forward to seeing Schilling vs Duke next Thursday. Triple-A just doesn't see the "best prospects."
(Magglio Ordonez appears to be wearing a sleeve rather than a brace.)
I have hopes that MLB's minor league moves might result in some games being on MLB.tv and I'm always open to some minor league games on Dartfish (hint, hint.)
J.J. Hardy (Milwaukee): Will, I'm big and slow and I play shortstop. Will you guys mock me like I'm Khalil Greene? Your friend, J.J.
Will Carroll: You're not that big and I don't think you're slow. Of course, you had no luck at all in Indy. The Brewers love you and given the options, you should get every chance to establish yourself. If you become Khalil Greene, that's not bad. Remember, you've got a lot of help coming to Milwaukee in the next couple years.
As for the mocking, well, it's much worse when we just ignore you.
dianagramr (Brooklyn): Nice "coming out" party last night for the "Matsui for AL MVP in '05" contingent ... huh Will?
Will Carroll: Whoa. Let's stop right there. One heck of a game from Matsui last night, but MVP? He's going to have a hard time being the most valuable player on his own team.
(Pickering! Pickering! Where's Nate?)
I think Matsui is actually the answer for the Yankees in CF. Push Williams over to LF (or DH?) and let the former Giants CF play. He's not a significant upgrade defensively (a 92 when he played 40 games in 2003) but it just seems like a move that would work. Again, Joe Torre probably won't consider it.
horn75 (Chicago, IL): What's the ETA on Wade Miller? Any guess to the number of innings and ERA he puts up?
Will Carroll: Best guess is June 1st.
(Steve Stone is just plain a great analyst. I can't stand him personally, but I'll probably miss him as a Cubs announcer.)
Miller doesn't need to be pushed unless there's a significant injury, so why do it? Let him figure out his mechanics, build up his stamina and use him like a mid-season acquisition. He'll probably get 15 starts and 100 or so innings. Figure him as league average with good run support.
JJoyce (Bridgewater, Ma): Besides baseball on XM, what else do you like to listen to on the worlds greatest satellite radio service?
Will Carroll: I'm addicted to Fantasy Focus with our good pal Jeff Erickson. On the music side, I listen to a lot of XM Cafe (45), Hear Music (75), and I find myself listening to Cinemagic more than I should. Of all the channels, Comedy (150) probably gets the most use in the car. RIP Mitch.
jrobs7777 (Philadelphia): In your recent column, you mentioned Mike Gonzalez had a dead arm last week. Could you, once and for all, define "dead arm?" Is it an injury? Is it plain soreness from working the muscles or is it something else entirely?
Will Carroll: Dead arm is just a term for fatigue. It's actually a positive. You'd much rather have a pitcher come up with a dead arm than an injury. Basically, it's a pitcher being overworked and having his mechanics hold up, keeping him healthy. Of course, the term means different things to different people so we don't always get a consistent read.
Cris E (St Paul, MN): PECOTA thinks the Yankees will be getting 150+ innings of very good pitching from Rivera and Gordon this year. After their huge workloads last season that left them looking so wrung out in October, doesn't that seem high? Specifically, what do you expect from Gordon this year?
Will Carroll: I think that's reasonable. Both should be able to put up 80 innings and I think they're factoring in ...
Wow, what's that about 410 for Meathook?
... that Gordon was used heavily last year. I think having Stanton back will take some of the load off. Rivera didn't throw much in the offseason, something new. We'll see how it works out.
Scott (Southern MA): What do you think about Pudge? He looks like a little kid out there, but will it help him miss fewer games and become an even better average hitter, as opposed to the power he's accustomed to?
Will Carroll: Pudge worked with a nutritionist this offseason. At his age, I'm sure he's looking at a lot of things - legal things - to try and stay healthy and effective. He'll take some stress off his knees and back. I wouldn't expect it to change how he plays, just that he can play more often and have more stamina.
I just wish I could afford Sari Mellman's services. I could stand to take off 20 pounds myself.
marlette (reno): Thoughts on Yusmeiro Petit? Short-term, long-term, whatever.
Will Carroll: LOVE Petit. His mechanics are solid and he hides the ball. Glenn Fleisig, the biomechanical guru at ASMI, got a look at him and won't share his info. Damned confidentiality. I think Petit will end of having a nice solid career. I think Bartolo Colon without the dominant fastball is a nice comp. He could be up as early as mid-season, injury or not.
Jeff Spencer (Indy): My strat leagues opening day, Opening day on TV, a BP chat...Heaven.
Question time, what's the word on Foppert? He was #13 on the BP prospect list in 03, how much has the injury changed his future? I've kept him on my strat team so give me good news:)
Will Carroll: Foppert is still a good prospect, but a prospect that's a couple years older isn't QUITE as good a prospect, no matter what. He'll start at Triple-A and is the first option if there's an injury in the Giants rotation. I like him, he's coming off TJ, which is normally as predicatable and successful as it comes with surgery, and he has decent mechanics.
brjones (Atlanta): Let's say Carlos Zambrano is actually two years older than his listed age, as has been rumored in the past. In that case, he'd be a 25 year old with no history of arm injuries (instead of 23 years old), and wouldn't have hit the Dusty Baker Arm Crusher until age 23 (instead of age 21). Would that change his THR status at all? Or is he still as big an injury risk?
Will Carroll: I've never heard anyone credible question his age. I'll play along however. Nate Silver did some great work on the "Injury Nexus" and according to that work, yes, it would have some effect. Age, however, is mutable and pitchers mature differently. With body type, efficiency, and effort levels, some level of workload can be overcome.
rselzer (sheets/bonderman/perez): whom would you most like to have for the next 5 years?
Will Carroll: That's a no lose proposition. I'd take Bonderman because of age and because I'm watching him throw really, really well as I type this. Perez and Sheets both have great, great upside. Sheets is the most polished of the bunch and most ready to win now. I think Sheets will have a better team behind him more quickly than Bonderman, while Perez is a Pirate.
Anthony (Long Island): What can you tell us about King Felix's mechanics? Does he have a history of injuries at all?
Will Carroll: Hernandez has an interesting motion. I've only seen him in highlights so I don't have a great look or any real insight. He has a pretty quick motion, seems compact, and seems very low effort. I've heard things about his head flying through, his back leg, and his repeatability. I'm looking forward to seeing him and hope he'll be everything everyone expects. I just don't believe in young pitchers until they make it through a full season in the majors. I had some pretty strong arguments against Hernandez's ranking in our Prospect List (I lost) because I would never rank a pitcher in the top ten. Period.
RC (Iowa): Any thoughts on how the wrist injury will affect the progress of Ian Blaedergroen?
Will Carroll: What a great name. Tough to spell, but great. He needs a nickname. Let's make one ... how about "The Groen Monster?"
Wrist injuries are odd things. We've seen a lot in the minors, especially among muscular young sluggers like Choi, Stokes, Gonzalez, etc. Most have overcome this and gone on with their careers, but almost all lost a year of development time to the injury.
butcherkris (Pittsburgh): Tike Redman... batting 3rd?? What would Loyal Lloyd use to justify batting him 3rd?
Could Jason Bay be a sleeper MVP candidate if Pirates pull off a miracle and finish .500?
Will Carroll: I like Bay to be the equivalent of the guy he replaced at his peak. I think it would take something insane - 55 HR or 150 RBI - to get him in the MVP chase.
I don't understand a lot of things about the Pirates and they're now the team supplying my hometown team. *sigh*
flyersnutt27 (Philly): Got two for ya.. 1. Last I heard the Pirates placed Ryan Vogelsong in the bullpen. What's your opinion of him coming out of the pen rather than being in the starting rotation? 2. What are your thoughts on Charlie Manuel not making Ryan Madson are starter again and keeping him in the pen?
Will Carroll: Vogelsong got beat out of the last spot in the rotation, so they're trying to find some role for him.
Wow, two bombs for Dmitri Young. And his brother's supposed to be the better player?
Madson is on the Weaver plan, I guess. It will be tough to keep him out of the rotation and maybe that works out, a la Johan Santana. I don't hate this idea - more young pitchers should be broken in this way - but I don't think the Phillies are doing this as part of a plan. Even so, stumbling into something is better than not doing so.
jjaffe (NYC): Hey Will, can you quickly summarize where MLB is with regards to testing for human growth hormone? how does that compare to other sports? If there isn't a test aready, what are the chances they can add one to the current drug plan?
Will Carroll: Jay - Jay Jaffe? The guy who wrote the best chapter in "The Juice"?
Baseball is in the same position as everyone when it comes to hGH. There is no valid, scientifically accepted test. The Olympics, I'm told, basically bluffed, keeping samples for later testing. A test is probably not terribly far off - a couple years - but it's likely to be a blood test, something not accepted by the current testing program or by any US pro league. The so-called Olympic standard is by any realistic measure untenable and ineffective. Let's see how the current system works and remember that zero positives are unlikely in any sport.
coneway (baltimore): If Houston trades Clemens to Boston, can they get Hanley Ramirez? Youkilis?
I assume the Yankees can't really trade for Clemens since they don't have the young prospects Houston would want.
Will Carroll: No.
If Clemens moves, it will be to the Yankees (and wouldn't THAT rotation look nice) or a very outside shot at a contending Rangers team. Expect the Yankees to take on a significant portion of Clemens contract rather than giving up great prospects.
Cris E (St Paul, MN): On your AL ballot you didn't have Johan Santana among your top three for the Cy Young. Are you expecting an injury or were you trying to stimulate debate?
Will Carroll: Nah, it's just tough to repeat that kind of performance. He's certainly got the stuff, but how many of us (aside from Gary Huckabay) saw him winning this last year? He would have been in my top five.
jhickok (West Virginia): Walt Jocketty says the Cards are looking for a young outfielder, for obvious reasons. Who are the best available young guys and who should they offer in trade?
Will Carroll: I have no idea who's available. Someone like Austin Kearns might be available for the right price if you catch Dan O'Brien on the right day. Marlon Byrd should be available and Mike Cameron would be nice.
Evan (Vancouver, BC): So, is Lima injured, or does he just suck?
I just wanted to say that your description of King Felix is pretty good. His motion, when working, looks great. But he can get a bit erratic with it when he's overthrowing. At least his hat stays on now, though.
Will Carroll: I'd lean to the "just suck" for right now. He's throwing ok, just down the middle.
Mark S (Baton Rouge): Nick Johnson (Nationals), will 2005 be relatively "healthy" year?
Will Carroll: What's healthy? 300 AB? 400?
I think Johnson will be good, not great, and if spotted properly, will be a valuable first baseman. I think he should be a DH.
tcfatone (New York): Do you see Lyon sticking as DBacks closer? I remember he looked pretty solid in that role in his brief stint with Boston.
Will Carroll: Sure, for a while. I think Brian Bruney is the closer of the future and closing games is really the least of the D-Backs worries.
Mike W (Chiacgo): Will, what's the health status of all the BP writers? How many missed columns can we expect this season from Sheehan, or Silver, or Kahrl? I saw Nate at a book signing and he looked bigger this year - what kind of off-season regimen was he on?
We need to know these things, and you're the guy.
Will Carroll: Heh. Nate, does this qualify as reasonable cause? I can tell you Sheehan and Kahrl are not juicing with a high degree of certainty.
I have a waiver for Provigil and an insane blood level of caffeine.
Andy (Raleigh): If Mark Prior has such perfect mechanics, what is going on with his arm these days? Also, what is the long term prognosis for something like this?
Will Carroll: Prior had inflammation of his ulnar nerve. No one's sure exactly what caused it, which is worrisome. You can fix something that's broken and you can make adjustments to problems. With this, something's not right but no one knows what. He's responded well and the Cubs are being understandably cautious. His mechanics are probably all that saved him from a visit to Birmingham. Perfect mechanics are not a panacea.
Andy (Raleigh): If Gagne's knee problem led to his elbow injury due to a change in mechanics, should he stay on the DL until the knee is fully recovered regardless of the status of his elbow?
Will Carroll: That's a great point. This clearly looks like a cascade injury where one problem led to another. Gagne was altering his stride and landing yet was throwing just as hard, arm-wise. Assuming that Brazoban can hold down the pen, I'd let Gagne heal as fully as possible before bringing him back.
tcfatone (New York): I've never gotten anyone in one of these chats to answer this question...one game to win it all, both pitchers rested and healthy, who do you take? Randy or Curt?
Will Carroll: Randy.
Jurgen (Montreal): Will, you've suggested that all things being equal, you prefer your mechanically challenged pitchers (like Kazmir) to work in the bullpen, not the rotation. But is pitching an inning or so at full tilt for 80+ games a year really that less taxing than starting every 5th day?
Will Carroll: The question you're really asking - or the one I'm going to answer :) - is does starting or relieving have a more survivable fatigue pattern. Pitchers get injured when they get tired and their mechanics either weren't there or break down.
The answer is, we don't know. Some people are working on questions like this and I have a project I'd love to do if someone has some grant money available. Fatigue is one of the great unanswered questions of pitching and one we have to get the right answers to. Our proxy measures like PAP and V-Loss are good, but not perfect.
bmcginni (Indy(Broadripple)): The Reds have made it through an entire half inning and Griffey hasn't yet torn a hammy. What's your take on the Reds' outfield situation? Willy Mo going to be traded? Washington going after Griffey? Or will Griffey/Kearns/Pena get hurt before the full boat in the outfield can become a "problem"?
Will Carroll: Broad Ripple is two words man.
The Reds NEED four, maybe five outfielders. You certainly can't rely on Griffey and Kearns to go 500 AB, meaning there's plenty of room for Wily Mo. Ryan Freel is the perfect fifth/Utility guy. I'd go the latter - they'll need that depth and I hope O'Brien realizes that. Of course, the rumored Pena for Zach Day deal would be tough for me to turn down.
DavidCrowe (Canada): Will the Cubs regret losing the Sisco Kid?
Will Carroll: Yes. He might be the guy we can judge Guy Hansen's early results by. The Cubs left him out there for their own reasons and they did get Luke Hagerty back from the Fish.
Anthony (Long Island): Speaking of V-Loss, when can we expect to see the results of the Velocity Project?
Will Carroll: I've written about it. The Velocity Project ended last year, one year early, based on preliminary results. While it was an accurate measure, it was complicated and technical. I had three groups of people - untrained fans, pitching coaches, and trainers - watch some film and tell me when the pitcher was fatiguing. All were just about as accurate as V-Loss - with trainers being the best - so why ...
Dunn. Wow, he KILLED that.
... why complicate things? We should just make sure managers are listening to their coaches (or watching themselves.) I would like to thank everyone that helped collect data for the project.
Andy (Raleigh): How much throwing should major and minor league pitchers do in the offseason? How much of a factor is age in your answer?
Will Carroll: "Throw more, pitch less."
Johnny Sain said it. Leo Mazzone gets credit for it. I just repeat it over and over.
Cris E (St Paul, MN): So now that we have a second confirmed case of an utterly non-power hitter being caught playing with juice (Alex Sanchex and Manny Alexander) will the media stop talking about fly balls carrying better and broaden the PEDs discussion a little? Does this suspension change the discussion or just let people make funny jokes?
Will Carroll: Last question, so I'll take one of the hundreds of steroids questions and make it a catch-all.
Let's let this play out before we really pass judgement. Sanchez's OTC defense is pretty weak and I'm told that Alan Trammell has hinted at the problem in previous interviews. (Now, if true, that's worrisome.) The question this raises is, will people stop looking at stereotypes of "steroid users" and realize it could be anyone. The next one could be a slugger, a speedster, or a pitcher.
Hopefully, "The Juice" will raise the discussion a bit when it comes out in a couple weeks and then again in July when Howard Bryant's book hits shelves. Of course, I'm not sure the media isnt more comfortable with the funny jokes.
Will Carroll: Thanks for all the questions. I'll be back soon and you can always email. It's great to see baseball back. It's been a long winter. Be sure to check out the new BP Radio as well - we should have those up more quickly and consistently going forward.