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Chat: Will Carroll

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday November 18, 2005 1:00 PM ET chat session with Will Carroll.


Will Carroll is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Due to an overwhelming e-mail response regarding the new MLB steroids policy, we've set up this Chat with Will to answer any questions related to the topic, or anything else that's newsworthy.

Will Carroll: Hi everybody. Thanks for all the questions and emails. I decided to do this chat because I was getting an insane volume of email (even more insane than normal!) on this issue. I love talking baseball with the great BP readers, so this was the best way to get the info out and make sure you were getting the info you were looking for. The battle against PEDs in baseball is not over. We'll watch this season as Barry Bonds heads for 755, a number now being used as a rallying point by the anti-doping community. Sadly, we'll see someone take a 50 game suspension after making the wrong choice. We should look at the stat lines of the players we caught this year and show others -- and the kids we all seem so worried about when its convenient -- that steroids don't help baseball players significantly enough to take the risks. The mystique we've given them is helped, not hurt by not facing the problem. We've been informed by fear, not fact. Now, we have people like Dick Pound of WADA, who I'm sure mean well, but would rather demonize and pontificate than help handle the real problems. There are more BALCO's out there, running right under our noses. Let's get to the root of this problem with a real program of education and research. I'll step off my soapbox now and, powered by a fresh pot of Peet's Major Dickason's Blend, on to the questions:

collins (Greenville NC): Thanks for doing the chat, Will. It seems like pressure from Congress prompted the new steroids policy. Do you think Congress really could have forced something like that on baseball -- can that possibly be Constitutional?

Will Carroll: Darn good question, Collins. I'm no lawyer or legal scholar, so I don't know what might have been decided. We as a society have ceded a lot of privacy over the last few years. Indiana was one of the test cases (no pun intended) for drug testing in high schools. I'd have loved to see a challenge, if only for the drama. I was recently honored to be the keynote speaker at the New England School of Law's symposium on drugs in sport and one of the speakers put on the single most eloquent and powerful challenges against testing I've ever heard. I really hope to be able to reprint that here.

Mike (DC): I know you can't name names, but do you have sources who are current or former ex-major leaguers? Do they think that the new policy will signifantly affect drug usage in MLB?

Will Carroll: Yes, I talk to a lot of players, especially pitchers. The general consensus is that the amphetamine penalty will have the most effect, at least until they find a substitute. I don't know if MLB will be testing for some of the more advanced ADD drugs or for something like modanifil (which they should since it was part of BALCO's cocktail). I'm buying stock in Starbucks - there's going to be a lot of coffee consumed.

The steroid policy was working. Players do not want to be the next Palmeiro. There are always going to be a small percentage that make mistakes, think they can beat the system, or that have such a financial and professional incentive that they'll do the wrong thing and no draconian penalty will stop that.

ScotMartin (Bedford, TX): Will, how long do most amphetemenes linger in the blood stream? Is there any danger for athletes who were taking them at the end of the 2005 season being caught in 2006?

Will Carroll: Amphetamines stay in urine a couple days, maybe 3. Crystal meth -- and let's hope there are no players on that -- lasts a bit longer. It can be detected in hair for 90 days or so.

So short answer, no, if someone gets popped, they were using.

ScotMartin (Bedford, TX): Will, how long do most amphetemenes linger in the blood stream? Is there any danger for athletes who were taking them at the end of the 2005 season being caught in 2006?

Will Carroll: Amphetamines stay in urine a couple days, maybe 3. Crystal meth -- and let's hope there are no players on that -- lasts a bit longer. It can be detected in hair for 90 days or so.

So short answer, no, if someone gets popped, they were using. The more worrisome fact is that there are some real dangers about false positives. Things like NyQuil, Afrin, and sudafed can cause positive tests.

jgalt73 (Portland, OR): Is there any reliable place to find player weights? I am curious if we will see an increase in player weights with any substantive ban of amphetamines in the clubhouse. Any thoughts on this?

Will Carroll: That's one of the things that really bugs me. Look, I don't want people knowing my weight, but accurate height and weight numbers would help not only me, but things like Nate Silver's numbers in PECOTA. I can usually get a better number with a couple calls, but I'd like to see MLB ask the teams to be a little more realistic and publish the spring training physical numbers.

collins (Greenville NC): Whether the new steroids policy is good or not, don't you think it sets a bad precedent to make changes to the CBA before it has expired?

Will Carroll: I'm not so interested in the labor issue as many are. I think the Congressional and public pressure forced the Union to do *something*. Is this deal better than what they would have got from Congress? Yes. Did the majority of players want a stronger testing policy. I think so. The MLBPA lost the PR war on this issue. I'm curious to see if this helps or hurts the upcoming CBA negotiations.

Evan (Vancouver, BC): Will players be subject to testing while they're suspended? If not, doesn't that reduce the risk of double-jeopardy problems by giving them more time to flush their systems? And related to that, couldn't fat-soluble drugs like deca be cleared more quickly by fasting, and thus burning that fat?

Will Carroll: That's a good question. We've never penetrated the "special testing program" for offenders to know just how often or even when they're tested. A quick test during the ten day suspension would seem too much, but doing one during a fifty day suspension seems reasonable.

I'd like to see regular testing for positive tests until the drug is no longer detectable, so that we could say "Ok, it's out now. Anything else is another offense."

As to the fat-soluble question, yes, it would help, but it's not like these are fat guys to begin with. The bigger question is why are they taking deca or equipoise and not something that clears the system.

(And be sure to check out Evan's work at Most Valuable Network.)

Jon Daniels (Arlington, Texas): A quick non-steroids question -- how do you think I'll do as the Rangers g.m.? And do you agree with all those people who say that I'm just Buck Showalter's puppet?

Will Carroll: If I really believed this was Jon Daniels, I'd remind people that on the day you were named Asst. GM in 2004, we were scheduled to speak at Jamey Newberg's Ballpark Day. Despite all the things that were going on, you still found time to come by the suites and say hello to some passionate fans. Anyone that's met you knows you're one of those passionate fans and not anyone's puppet. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Rangers challenging the Angels and A's over the next few years as three great GM's try to win what might now be the toughest division in baseball.

Adam J. Morris (Houston, Texas): I find it odd that there is so much attention focused on Performance Enhancing Drugs in baseball, while the NFL is largely ignored at this point. Do you think PED use is more widespread in baseball or in the NFL? And if it is the NFL, why are they getting a free pass? Because they have a testing program, even if it is easy to beat, or because the PED users in the NFL are more anonymous than those in baseball?

Will Carroll: Great point. I've been to the NFL combine and watched scouts look at 300 pound men running 4.8 40's and call them slow and undersized. Size, I learned from Allan Barra, is mostly due to specialization in football, but steroids and the bigger/stronger culture of the NFL are a big part too. The NFL does a much better job with PR and marketing than MLB does. That's where they get their pass on this issue and where Baseball has to do better with this policy. I'm hoping the independent administrator will be a big part of this solution.

bctowns (Chicago (IL)): Will, On a scale from 1-10, how aggravating is the movie Rookie of the Year from a medhead standpoint? Does it sting a little worse knowing it's the Cubs promoting such poor film portrayals of medicine? Thanks for chatting.

Will Carroll: Is it the bad medicine? The horrible pitching mechanics? The fact that I can't watch it without seeing the kid's face in Tara Reid's crotch now?

Never a good movie. Nearly unwatchable now.

Conor Glassey (Redmond, WA): Will, any chance XM picks up BP Radio?

Will Carroll: XM and Home Plate (175) would be a great place for BP Radio, wouldn't it? XM has been good to BP, having a lot of us on regularly. Our good friend and partner Jeff Erickson from Rotowire had his own daily show. Maybe if we all go out and buy XM radios for the holidays and they listen to "Ripken Radio", they'll find a slot for BPR.

Until then, we'll keep putting together great shows with interesting guests and sending them out to our great affiliates and through iTunes.

russadams (St. Cloud, MN): How is Jason Kubel's recovery coming along? Will he be ready to play in the field on opening day? He would definitely be a welcome addition to the offense if healthy. How about another Twin, Grant Balfour? What's his timetable?

Will Carroll: Things don't look good for Kubel. Recent reports have him unable to run and well behind schedule for his recovery. There's simply no comps to work from, so we'll watch and wait. My hope was that he could be something like Edgar Martinez - forced to DH, maybe 1B - but still able to hit like he did. It's still early, but some in the Twins organization are beginning to plan for 2006 as if Kubel will still be rehabbing.

rudd48 (lexington, ky): Noah Lowry, Chris Capuano, Dan Haren, and Brett Myers all threw quite a few pitches this past season. I know it's a little early for the THR's, but can you fill me in on which of these guys would be considered pretty risky next season? thanks

Will Carroll: Myers jump wasn't that big - he'd gone over 190 in 2003 with just a tick back in 2004, so I'm not worried about him. I don't have Lowry's minor league numbers handy, so I'm not sure how big his jump was, but it's probably not quite as bad as it looks. Haren had a lot of minor league innings in 2004, so again, the jump wasn't as significant as it appears from the DT card.

Capuano is a special case. He's coming back from TJ and, like most things, it's just different for them. His innings came naturally and were a bit inflated at the end as the Brewers tried desperately to get him that 20th win. You can't expect a guy like Capuano to win 19 games every season, but he's a better pitcher than many expected. How good does that Sexson trade look now?

Evan (Vancouver, BC): Amphetamines question. Does this limit players' use of over-the-counter cold medicine? And as such, are we going to see more guys miss 1-2 games at a time?

Will Carroll: Without knowing the specifics, I can't answer definitively, but it's likely that this will be the case. Could players be forced to get Therapeutic Use Waivers and use prescription medicines rather than popping a couple allerests? Yep.

jacksonreams (Washington): Any news on Cole Hamels? What are the chances he could ever become a guy that throws 180 innings in a year? If those are low, is relief an option that would be explored?

Will Carroll: I called him a left-handed Mark Prior in 2003. Umm, not so much. Hamels is as good as he chooses to be. There's some open question about his work ethic, but none about his talent. I'd say he comes to the majors to stay sometime this season, but 180 innings? That'd be just a guess. He's young and left-handed, so relief is always an option.

lentzner (Fremont, CA): What's the word on Harden. Are the injury troubles he suffered through likely to recur?

Will Carroll: Harden tore the labrum on his glove arm. It really threw off his mechanics and Curt Young simply couldn't tweak him. Harden had surgery shortly after the season and should be fine. It wasn't his pitching arm labrum, so I don't anticipate much change in his stuff. I would recommend a lighter glove.

zgeems (Philly): How many games will Nomar play next year? How will he play in those games?

Will Carroll: Did Nomar just age really fast or did the wrist/hamstring/groin trifecta age him? Nomar hasn't been healthy since the Y2K scare, so there's less and less chance to believe that he can stay healthy. Used creatively, I think he could play 120 games and have a Griffey-like comeback.

jong1205 (Davis, CA): Scott Eyre (a 33 year old lefty with a career ERA of 4.52) somehow managed to con a two year deal worth a reported $11 million from the Chicago Cubs, presumably using smoke, mirrors, and hallucinogenic drugs in the negotiation process. What does this do to the market for a supposedly elite lefty like B.J. Ryan?

Will Carroll: It's the market. There weren't many lefty relievers on the market and Eyre actually had a relatively good season. James Click noted that he was 7th in WXRL this season in his article yesterday. The Cubs overpaid, yes, and combined with the Dempster deal and the chance that Wood ends up in the pen, that could be the most expensive pen in the league even with some minimum guys like Wuertz, Wellemeyer, and Novoa. Eyre's mid-thirties, played well for Dusty down the stretch in '02, so hey, this is predictable if a bit frustrating.

A lineup of Pierre, Furcal, Lee, Ramirez, Bradley, Barrett, Murton, and Cedeno, plus a healthy rotation would paper over a lot of problems.

mjgroh (Chicago, IL): Will, do tendons or ligaments grow back or repair themselves? I have no idea if this is even a legitimate question, but I was just wondering about how this plays into surgery/rehab v just rehab with various injuries. Keep up the excellent work, both here and at Football Outsiders...

Will Carroll: Valid question with a simple answer. No, they don't. Small tears scar up some, but scar is usually about 75% as strong as the tissue it replaces, so there's still weakness. Tendons are repaired while ligaments are usually replaced, often with tendons.

Thanks. Working with Aaron Schatz and his crew has been a great experience.

Hundley (Flushing, NY): Three questions for the Injurymeister. One, What's the word on Dan Meyer? Two, Do you expect injury rates to drop if amphetamine use drops? Three, who's Outlook Contact list is more powerful than yours?

Will Carroll: Meyer had a terrible season with shoulder issues, proving that John Schuerholz hasn't lost his edge on trading away the right prospects at the right time. Outside of Jason Schmidt, has a prospect he's traded away ever become anything? Meyer still has potential, but I'd like to see a healthy first half at Sacramento. Or Fresno? I always confuse those.

I do not expect the rate to drop. If anything, I think fatigued players -- especially pitchers -- will see the rate jump a bit. I have no idea what we'll see.

I'm a Mac guy, so I don't use Outlook. Anyone that's ever seen my Sidekick II knows it has some serious mojo, but guys like Peter Gammons, Jayson Stark, Ken Rosenthal, Phil Ceppaglia, and Chris Eno still have me beat. (I see people rushing to Google on those last two.)

dianagramr (Brooklyn): Hi Will! Baldelli tears up his knee, and then wrecks his elbow while rehabbing the knee. Now, the Rays turn around and give him a 6-year deal? Also, who would be foolish enough to give A.J. Burnett 5 years, when even the healthiest of pitchers don't get 5 years anymore? [I hear Wayne Garland cackling in the background]

Will Carroll: Hi Diane! The Rays training staff and their new braintrust doesn't have a fool among them, so let's look at the thinking. Baldelli tore his ACL, then had Tommy John. Both have known recovery periods and high degrees of success for return to function. We'll assume that the knee is near full-recovery and that the elbow is far enough along that they have a good indication that he'll be ready for next season. If they liked Baldelli before, when's better to sign him? The structure of the contract limits their exposure, so I like this deal. Add in the stability and fan effects that the likeable Baldelli adds to a rebuilding franchise and it looks better and better.

Larry Lucchino (Boston, MA): Who should I hire as GM?

Will Carroll: I'm available, but sorely unqualified, but I hear I interview well and I'm good with the media.

If you can't get Theo back, I'd try to convince Tony LaCava to reconsider. He's got one of the best resumes in the game and is literally the nicest guy I've met in baseball. There are lots of good AGMs out there ready for a shot, but -- and I'm not joking -- why not let Peter Gammons run that franchise for a couple years while Jed Hoyer gets ready?

R.C. Cook (Dallas TX): Are there any provisions in the new testing agreement for a Mike Morse-type situation?

Will Carroll: It doesn't appear so. It's slightly troubling, but then again, I don't buy that defense.

(Quick recap - Morse says he took steroids in 2003 that are still being detected today. Possible, but implausible.)

My solution would be to test athletes until the drug is completely out of the system. For deca, that could be 18 months (and remember the detectable period and the effective period are two VERY different things.) So my penalty would be 50 games OR until the drug is out of the system.

jacksonreams (Washington, DC): What exactly is wrong with J.D. Drew's knees? How long of a career can we expect him to have? Thanks for doing this chat Will. You da man.

Will Carroll: Drew has both cartilage problems and a history of patellar tendinitis. The tendonitis (yes, I just used both acceptable spellings of the malady) was addressed surgically, though it will always be a problem. I'd expect him to have a few more seasons of productive ball in him, but he's not going to be playing much longer than this contract, I'd guess.

horn75 (Chicago, IL): At the First Pitch Arizona conference, Andy Andres challenged a couple of assertions from your book. I believe his biggest disagreement was that athletes can still make significant gains by taking steroids and not working out. Are you familiar with the study he cited and how do you respond?

Will Carroll: I've heard about Andy's presentation from a couple people and I have a lot of respect for his work and his credentials. I've seen the study and think it's interesting and valid, but I went to the users on this question and they disagreed. What Andy talked about is more along the lines of this ACRIA study, done on AIDS patients, than athletes, if my understanding of his presentation is correct.

I'm hoping to get hold of Andy in the next couple weeks and get him to do an article here. I think we'll both agree that we need a lot more research in this field.

dianagramr (Brooklyn): Has anyone studied the correlation between playing surface (turf/grass/type of infield dirt) and plantar fasciitis? I'm sure Pujols would like to know, lest it ruin his chances of wrecking every offensive record out there.

Will Carroll: Not that I've seen. Turf is obviously harder on the body than grass, but I've recently been talking with someone who is trying to quantify that and is taking measurements of hardness at various NFL surfaces. Plantar fascitis is a painful injury, more so than I knew. I'm dealing with a mild case of it myself and it does n;t make me happy. Pujols recently had another round of ultrasound therapy on his feet, but if he can win an MVP with bad feet ... wow.

lance livestrong (austin, tx): just want to get your bottom line here: is this testing program going to alter significantly the sort of baseball we have been watching the past 10 years? Is it going to have any effect on youth steroid experimentation rates?

Will Carroll: Thanks for taking care of Dr. Einhorn, Lance.

Quick answers for the champ: Probably not, to both.

coneway (austin, tx): if slugging and home run stats don't change markedly in 2006, what is more likely response -- "The testing program is not working!" or "I guess steroids and greenies weren't such a big deal after all."

Will Carroll: Sadly, the former. At some point, we're going to have to take away the mystique of steroids. Here kids, don't you want to be like Alex Sanchez, Ryan Franklin, or Juan Rincon?

Dropkick Murphys (Boston): Best stathead guitarist?

Will Carroll: Keith Law

Patrick (Sluggers batting cages): New Cubbie Scott Eyre credits his ADD medication for his improvement as a pitcher. Earlier you mentioned that advanced ADD cocktails might serve as a replacement for amphetamines. If players get a prescription for these drugs, are they now not 'preformance enhancing?' and How do other sports and the Olympics deal with similar situations as Erye's?

Will Carroll: Let's differentiate for a minute between "performance-enhancing" and "medical use." Yes, medical use might enhance performance, but there is a valid reason beyond the performance. If Eyre wasn't a pitcher, he'd likely be on the medicine and it would help him as a teacher, accountant, or whatever bliss he followed. You could argue that Tommy John surgery is performance-enhancing, or that Jason Johnson's performance is enhanced by insulin - he'd certainly not be playing without it! Then again, he might not be alive.

The Therapeutic Use Waiver is there for precisely these types of concerns.

ChuckR (Wrigleyville): Will Kerry Wood ever pitch more than 200 innings in a year again?

Will Carroll: 200 is a high bar for anyone. Seriously - how many pitchers cleared it this year? 50. (Wow, that's more than I would have expected.) Is it important that he has 200 innings, or would you be happy with a really good 120?

horn75 (Chicago, IL): What are the current minimum suspensions for doctoring a ball or corking a bat? Isn't it about time that Congress got involved?

Will Carroll: I'll get Bunning and McCain on the phone right now.

devinreza (Napa): What do you expect out of Oliver Perez this season?

Will Carroll: A good read on just what kind of pitching coach Jim Colborn is.

Eric Clapton (Lumpshirehampton-on-Thames): Keith Law? Not bloody likely. I live for VORP.

Will Carroll: Value Over Replacement Patty? I don't know ... and what's the Sheryl Crow vibe we suddenly have in this chat?

Fantasy Guy (Sherborne, MI): Will, who are some guys coming back from long injury rehabs/surgeries that everyone's forgotten about who could help my already brobdingnagian fantasy team in 2006? My fantasy team is brobdingnagian because I subscribe to Baseball Prospectus Premium, btw.

Will Carroll: Well there's a quote for the back of the book.

I'd watch Baldelli, Roy Halladay, Keith Foulke, Eric Gagne, Jaret Wright, and Frankie Francisco.

Evan (Austin): Please rank the following people in terms of the amount of drugs in their system, from highest to lowest Mat Lawton Danny Bonaduce Barry Bonds Courtney Love

Will Carroll: Dear god, has it come to this?

Amul (Bahrain): Hello, Will! Love your writing and BP keeps me sane while I'm contracting overseas. I have a question about the DL. How much control does the player have over the decision to place him on the DL? Can a player say 'I'm fine, I don't want to go on the DL', or does the club have sole authority? Thanks, and keep writing and cranking out the BP Radio shows!

Will Carroll: Thanks, Amul. I really want to have a Pizza Feed in Dubai.

The team is in control of all roster decisions, including the DL. The player can ask for a second opinion and make things generally nasty, but it's the clubs decision in the end. You will very, very rarely see even bogus moves challenged by the Commissioner's Office.

micknaso (Winnipeg, MB): AJ Burnett. 5 years of injury misery if the Jays sign him?

Will Carroll: You know, I don't think misery is the right word. Sure he could blow out his shoulder as easily as any other pitcher and that bone spur that Jim Andrews left in his elbow worries me, but I haven't seen anyone with better stuff. I would *never* sign a pitcher to a deal over three years. I'll pay more to get less years.

Manprin (Sacramento): Will - How reliable is NCAA testing, and for that matter, high school testing? Will we ever see a MLB combine as a cover to start testing the minor league and MLB variances in drug testing? It seems to be a risk to take a player with a history of use with the new punishments in order.

Will Carroll: Good question, my elephantine friend. Testing is only as reliable as the process, so as more money is spent, the better it tends to be, a 1:1 relationship not often seen. Testing, on the whole, is very reliable when handled properly, tested properly, and double and tripple checked. "False positives" really aren't a significant problem.

I would KILL to see an MLB combine. I know a couple teams are also on board with this idea. Tim Kremchek's facility in Cincinnati would be ideal.

devinreza (Napa): In all seriousness, can you explain to me the rationale behind the kneejerk response to steroid use? People in all walks of life use drugs every day, specifically to enhance their performance. Starbucks is nothing but a nationwide pusher, and it's an accident of history that tobacco's legal and marijuana isn't. If you take a little time to think about it, the response to steroids seems to be just one more example of the American taste for hypocritical moralizing. Caffeine, Dextrose, Nicotine, D-Bol. It's all just a matter of degree, isn't it? People choose to damage themselves with drugs every day for far less gain, so why single out the athletes?

Will Carroll: Preach on, brother. You just said it yourself.

horn75 (Chicago, IL): I've seen some people label Prior as fragile. Do you think that is fair? It seems to me that a number of his injuries, from his collision with Giles to being hit by a line drive, were flukes.

Will Carroll: Again, dead on. One collision, an injury that took place on his honeymoon (and no, I don't know more than that and won't ask) and a ball off his elbow are really what his injuries amount to. He got in 170 solid innings this season despite the elbow. I have a feeling Mike Marshall is going to feel about Mark Prior like I do about C.C. Sabathia.

Jim Belushi (Los Angeles, CA): For position players and hitters, what two injuries say "Stay Away" the loudest. Thanks for your answer. I've got to get back to living off the remains and talent of my brother now, before my deal with Satan expires.

Will Carroll: Hitters: recurrent hamstring problems and surgical lower back injuries.

Pitchers: labrum (in pitching shoulder) and rotator cuff tears.

collins (Greenville NC): Can you say what you mean by "an MLB combine"? I don't know what a combine is. Thanks

Will Carroll: Whoops.

The NFL Combine is where all the draftable players come and go through a series of physical examinations, football specific drills, and psychological tests. It's done each year here in Indianapolis. All the scouts and team officials watch it closely, tho some elite players don't participate now.

An MLB Combine would be the same thing, getting a lot of the draftable athletes together in one place. It'd be cheaper and more controllable than the individual workouts we see now.

dokomoy (Los Angeles): What affect will playing in the World Baseball Classic have on participating players injurys and or production?

Will Carroll: Darn good question and the answer is, we don't know. I know that USA Baseball has proposed some serious limits on pitches to prevent injury. It's only going to take one big injury to sour people on this.

Bartolo Colon (Tubby, CA): How much is this order of curly fries I'm about to scarf going to increase my possibility of getting injured next year?

Will Carroll: No one's ever been on the DL for pulled fat. David Wells says get him one with extra chili.

Bartolo Colon (Tubby, CA): (urrrp)

Will Carroll: Scariest thing ever was being told by Eddie Epstein that I looked like Bob Wickman. I wouldn't mind if I had his fastball (and contract!)

dokomoy (Los Angeles): In "The Juice" you talked about how someone( i think Mark Mulder) was given some sort of medication usually prescribed to arthirits suffering seniors, do you expect MLB to try and make it more difficult for players to do stuff like that?

Will Carroll: I think you're thinking of Forteo, a drug used to prevent osteoporosis and that was reportedly used by Mulder to come back from his hip fracture. I don't think that will be affected by this policy.

Jose Lima (Kansas City): I could really use some performance enhancing drugs. Can you make some recommendations that might help me get my ERA under 23?

Will Carroll: Tell you what, Jose. You and your wife should come by my training facility here in Indianapolis and we'll have a long talk ...

cmac314 (Baltimore, MD): Any update on Brian Roberts? Could he be ready by Opening Day?

Will Carroll: That may be the most brutal injury I've ever seen. He seriously could have lost the arm and I hope we can get Tim Kremchek to talk about the surgery. (For those in the Chicago area, Kremchek and Roger Clemens will be speaking at an area baseball conference. Check www.nationalbsa.com for more details.)

Sherman (West Covina, CA): Who are the best baseball consultants, and how do I get one of those jobs?

Will Carroll: Best consultants ... well, I guess that James guy is supposed to be pretty good. Eddie Epstein's my hero. There's a team in St Louis that has pretty good results, though I'm not sure how much credit Walt Jocketty would give them. It's a very small world and if I knew how to get in there, I'd be doing a lot more consulting myself.

jschmid21 (st. paul): are there any doubts about torii hunter making a full recovery? and if you have time, what about carlos silva and his knee? sorry to hear about mr. kubel, i was banking on him. thanks!

Will Carroll: No, Hunter's already back to function and should have little to no problem next year. Silva's knee was surgically repaired and he shold be ready for spring training.

johnkat1 (NYC): Hey Will, Love your work and your continuous call for making decisions based on fact not misinformation and rumor. With amphetamines in the new testing agreement, do you think we'll stop hearing that the integrity of the game has been undermined by steroids(especially from Hall-of-Famers and old-timers). It seems to me pretty hypocritical to condemn the current generation of players for steroids when speed (ostensibly performance enhancing like steroids) has been a drug of choice and abuse in baseball for decades. Or should we just start calling into question all records and achievement in baseball for the last 40-50 years?

Will Carroll: Thank you. I make my share of mistakes and pass on rumors as much as the next guy, but thank you.

No, we'll always hear that. Just listen to any old-timers game ever. That home run I hit my junior year of high school just keeps getting longer and the girl I took to prom just gets better looking.

Jim Davis (Dead Horse, KY): Is Fox Trot going to become more and more like Garfield?

Will Carroll: Jim Davis is a Hoosier legend. Seriously.

twayda (Chicago, IL): How much do you hate Dusty Baker?

Will Carroll: I don't hate Dusty. On the few occasions I've spoken to him, he's been personable and even funny.

(Great story - at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, I met a guy who was offered a job with both a Double-A and Triple-A team. Baker walks by and this guy stops Baker and asks his opinion, out of the blue, on which job he should take. Baker pauses, takes the toothpick out of his mouth and says, "Heck, it's Triple-A, baby!" and leaves.)

Baker, like many people that take baseball on faith rather than fact, frustrates me. That's a long way from hate.

marlette (reno): What's a reasonable expectation for Frank Thomas next year (performance/playing time)? Worth the A's troubles?

Will Carroll: Wow, tough one. I'd rather have Mike Piazza at equivalent dollars. A's ... yeah, for the right price, I can see Thomas adding some value.

Gloria Allred (Los Angeles, Ca): You were referring to a baseball homerun and not a homerun with the prom date, right?

Will Carroll: Umm, yes. Heh. Wink wink.

akellman (New York, NY): Non steroid question... Any idea what Seattle has King Felix doing this offseason and do you think he will be a red light come spring training? I Love UTK, keep up the great work!

Will Carroll: No idea. I haven't seen his name in Kevin Goldstein's BA Prospect Report, so I'll assume he's not pitching in Winter Ball. He scares the heck out of me with those mechanics and on age alone, he'll likely be red. I'm very very curious to see how the pitching coach change in seattle affects that team.

Brian (Richmond, VA): I know you've had kind words for Bob Cluck in the past, so with a new staff in Detroit, do you think there's any reason to be concerned about how they'll handle the young arms like Bonderman, Verlander, Zumaya, etc.?

Will Carroll: Leyland better listen better.

marlette (reno): Thoughts on the Mets' thinking in trading Cameron for Nady? Any speculation on Cameron's recovery?

Will Carroll: If Cameron passes the physical, we'll assume he's okay. Tough to say beyond that.

collins (Greenville NC): Let me renew my annual request: Is there any way you could do persuade Dick Martin to do an interview (or a chat)? Thanks for doing the chat.

Will Carroll: I keep hoping.

Mike (DC): What do you know about Wade Miller? Should we look upon last year as a "recovery year"? Or, with the type of injury he had, should we look upon him as "cooked"?

Will Carroll: I'd lean more to the latter.

nicopad (Brooklyn): Do you ever have pizza feeds on the east coast? And, am I invited cuz I have a subscription? Thx

Will Carroll: We do. Pizza Feeds tend to be a function of author location and we've definitely got a nice NY contingent now. There are places we really need to have them in - Florida during spring training, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Vancouver, and Las Vegas come to mind.

Will Carroll: Thanks for all the questions. You can always reach me via email. Thanks for reading and be sure to pre-order BP '06.

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