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Chat: Will Carroll

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday April 17, 2006 2:00 PM ET chat session with Will Carroll.


Will Carroll is an author of Baseball Prospectus. He'll be hosting a Pizza Feed at Jacobs Field May 19, in conjunction with the Indians and ahead of that night's Indians-Pirates game.

Will Carroll: Another chat session? Awesome. These are among my favorite things, second only to going to a ballgame and hanging out with people who love the game and often have a lot to teach me. I hope to see many of you (ok, space limited so at least some of you) and the BP Jacobs Field Feed. I'll be there and I'm happy to announce that Joe Sheehan and John Erhardt will be making the trip in. Add in special guests and it should be great. I've got a full pot of coffee, a full queue of questions, and the new Flaming Lips album on, so let's get to it. I'll start with a question to you: Who is Beavis' favorite ballplayer?

lpiklor (chicago): Hi again, WIll... If you had your choice... who would you hire to manage your young stud pitchers at the major league level, and why?

Will Carroll: Good question. If it's "young studs" that I have, I'd probably look to someone like Rick Peterson. Of course, I'd also try to convince Tom House to come back to baseball and give up his carefree lifestyle.

ssimon (Pelham, NY): Will, I see you're hosting a Cleveland Pizza Feed on May 19. What would you say to an Indy Feed during Memorial Day weekend?

Will Carroll: Indy Feed is going to happen. Memorial Day weekend? Wow, be awful tough to find a place to do it given the race. It's not what it used to be, but it's still a big event here.

Jim Clancy (Toronto, ON): Any chance Gagne's going to be his old, dominant self before July this year?

Will Carroll: No. I'm not sure Gagne will ever be his old, dominant self. We saw clues this spring with him dusting off his old slider that he might not have the same raw stuff. Will he be good? Probably. Dominant? I'm not sure how he'll adjust. Gagne was always more of a thrower than a pitcher.

ssimon (Pelham, NY): Will, how "done" is Keith Foulke, who's about to take the loss in Boston?

Will Carroll: If you cut Foulke right now, I'm not sure there's any pink in the middle. (That steak metaphor sounded dirty ...) If the Synvisc isn't helping the knees or if the knees weren't the problem, it's unclear how or even if Foulke can come back. The Red Sox can afford to be patient, though I'm not sure why they would be. Closers have a short shelf life. Very, very few of them dominate for more than a couple years, more reason to revel over the careers of guys like Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, and ... yeah, that's about it.

drizzle (texas): you may have answered this in a column but I don't remember, is there an injury nexus for position players? Will Ian Kinsler's rookie year be busted like his thumb? Who do you think is more likely to break out: Mastershake, Frylock, or Meatwad?

Will Carroll: Drizzle,

It's an interesting question, fo shizzle. I don't think the nexus has ever been looked at for position players. The base risk tables I use for the Team Health Reports kind of do this. Young players get hurt more, but heal quickly. It's more of a curve than a nexus.

redsoxfan (pensacola, fl): This may be an old question...but with the medical advancements we have now, could Sandy Koufax's career have been saved?

Will Carroll: This is one of the most popular questions I get by email. The answer is "maybe." As medical technology gets better, Koufax's shoulder problem gets more fixable. We're seeing players come back from shoulder injuries that were devastating just a few short years ago. My Slate piece on labrums is obsolete!

The more interesting question is, how would playing today have affected Koufax? He didn't rack up big pitch totals, but would the extra days rest have helped him? (He pitched in a four-man rotation) His numbers would certainly look a lot different. To me, Koufax = Pedro.

lentzner (Fremont, CA): I had noticed watching the A's that Eric Chavez looked much bulkier than usual. I also later read he had put on 25 lbs (!) over the last off-season. Small sample size, but he's also been murdering the ball. Is this the year he'll finally get that long predicted MVP? (And maybe the year he finally started juicing)

Will Carroll: I won't pick on Lentzner here, but damn, can we please quit speculating or even joking about steroids? Even if PEDs were more of a problem than they ever were, they're not the answer to every question. Players have good seasons - we call those flukes or spikes or breakouts. Players have bad season - we call those slumps or collapses or injuries. Yes, steroids can contribute, but it's far, far too easy an answer and it's becoming a crutch for those that don't want to think.

Chavez did put on muscle, part of his rehab program to strengthen around his injured shoulder. 25 lbs seems a bit high, but who knows. I've taken off 20 lbs in the last two months and I'm not on the juice. It's small sample size, but maybe just maybe, it has more to do with his balky shoulder feeling good than anything else.

DrLivy (Charleston, WV): Has Rolen fully recovered. There's something about his swing, when I watch it now, that seems a bit off to me. And it's not just that it's longer or slower.

Will Carroll: You know, I thought the same thing. I think Rolen's still getting used to the shoulder. It may just feel different in that it's healthy or it may be a bit tighter after surgery. I don't know enough about hitting to dissect the swing, but it did look different somehow.

Bud Selig (NY): Can Bonds please retire or go on the DL soon so I don't have to do anything?

Will Carroll: Name an owner for the Nationals, then we can discuss this.

I'm not going out on too big of a limb here after I screwed up the name of the Nats, but I'm hearing that the Lerner-Kasten group will get the team. That said, I don't think anyone knows, including the Commissioner.

Bud Selig (NY): Can Bonds please retire or go on the DL soon so I don't have to do anything?

Will Carroll: Name an owner for the Nationals, then we can discuss this.

I'm not going out on too big of a limb here after I screwed up the name of the Nats, but I'm hearing that the Lerner-Kasten group will get the team. That said, I don't think anyone knows, including the Commissioner.

buddaley (Clearwater): How do you rate Scott Kazmir's chances of avoiding serious injury over the next 3 years?

Will Carroll: Sorry for the delay. Storms here over the past week seem to have affected my connection.

Kazmir's lucky in that he's a Devil Ray. Maddon's recent pronouncements aside, there's no better organization for holding together a young player. Ron Porterfield, Koco Eaton, and the rest of the staff and front office know how valuable an ace arm like Kazmir is. They're not going to risk him.

That said, he's a young pitcher and that's inherently risky. I'd say he's got a 1 in 3 shot of a serious injury.

CoachB (Rhode Island): Will, could you tell us more about the work you do instructing/coaching pitchers?

Will Carroll: I work with a number of pitchers from age 9 to pro-level pitchers. I'm no expert or guru, but the things I've learned do have some application. The results have been good. I focus on clean, repeatable mechanics and keeping these kids healthy. I teach on "feel" more than technique. I think it's important to give back to the game and in some small way, this is what I do.

tcfatone (NYC): I noticed you have a health report guest column on the SI site. You're killing me! The "flat-earth society" owners in my fantasy league are now getting the BP scoop at the same time I am!!!! Can't you have a one day lead for BP subscribers???

Will Carroll: Ha! See, it's this kind of thing that's slowed the amazing growth of BP. No one wants to give away the secret sauce!

As I said in today's UTK, I was proud to lead off the new content deal between BP and SI. It won't be a regular thing that UTK will pop up there, so I'll keep working hard to make sure that you feel you're getting your money's worth with a BP subscription.

Jake S. (S.F.): What do you think are the repercussions of Bonds's bone chips? Are they responsible for his early slump, and, if so, can he improve while playing through them?

Will Carroll: I talked about this today on XM's Fantasy Focus with Jeff Erickson. Bone chips are very minimal when it comes to surgery and rehab, so I have no idea why Bonds wouldn't have this fixed. BLB certainly can go drama queen on us and, added to the knee problems, it's certainly curtailing his power. We'll know more after we see him in Colorado. Don't forget that SF is one of the hardest parks for homers! His translated stats have him with 815 homers!!!

Chrissy (Maine): 1. How (if at all) has the Health Information Privacy Act affected the following: The reporting of injuries? Contract negotiations? Playing decisions (i.e. is it easier for a player to withhold information)? Thanks!

Will Carroll: HIPAA hasn't affected the reporting of injuries, except for the occasional misuse of the statute to try and hide. "Oh, can't tell you that - HIPAA." I've heard that more than a few times. All players have a HIPAA waiver in their contracts, allowing teams to share information. Law aside, my sources give me the info I need.

Bryan (MD): Top Five Pitching Coaches in Baseball?

Will Carroll: I don't know. We know so little about coaching as to render any answer to this meaningless. It's one of the great mysteries in baseball and one I hope someone like Dan Fox or Keith Woolner can dig in on in the coming years.

You have to mention Leo Mazzone, Don Cooper, Rick Peterson, Dave Duncan, and Mike Maddux in there.

Josh (West Palm): Will, I nabbed Wilkerson around the 17th round of my fantasy draft and figured I was stealing a top 15 OF. Will his shoulder injury see him perform like this the whole season? Should I just take my medicine and drop him for Jay Gibbons now?

Will Carroll: Don't panic. If he does what he did last year, it will look better just on park effects. Let's see what Keith Meister and Jamie Reed can do with Wilkerson before doing something rash.

sfbennett1 (Edmond, OK): Would it be much of an injury-concern if the Rangers periodically brought in Kameron Loe and his sinker to try and induce a double play during the games when he's not starting? If he's only throwing to one batter wouldn't that be roughly the same as doing some daily throwing on the side?

Will Carroll: Loe. Lowe. Is name destiny? Discuss.

That's an interesting question. First, can Loe (or any pitcher) affect the outcome of a single at-bat in such a way that this strategy makes sense? Strict DIPS would say no, but the progressive iterations of the theory may leave some room for it. I'm an advocate of using pitchers on their throw day in games, so this is a more extreme iteration of that. Interesting idea, if nothing else.

sfbennett1 (Edmond, OK): Would it be much of an injury-concern if the Rangers periodically brought in Kameron Loe and his sinker to try and induce a double play during the games when he's not starting? If he's only throwing to one batter wouldn't that be roughly the same as doing some daily throwing on the side?

Will Carroll: Loe. Lowe. Is name destiny? Discuss.

That's an interesting question. First, can Loe (or any pitcher) affect the outcome of a single at-bat in such a way that this strategy makes sense? Strict DIPS would say no, but the progressive iterations of the theory may leave some room for it. I'm an advocate of using pitchers on their throw day in games, so this is a more extreme iteration of that. Interesting idea, if nothing else.

mhixpgh (Mark from Pittsburgh) (Pgh, PA): Hi Will- What is your favorite food/drink at your favorite ballpark? Thanks

Will Carroll: I like a simple, classic dog and beer. I'm a purist, at least in that sense. I hate nachos at the ballpark.

Favorite park? PNC. I have an 8 foot by 10 foot picture of it behind me now. Only thing wrong with that park is the team.

pjfsks (New Jersey): clarification please - I thought your column last week said Billy Wagner had a torn tendon sheath and may need surgery. The local papers only mention soreness. Before we Flushing Faithful walk the plank, which is it? P.S.- love your column!

Will Carroll: Dude, Google it before you ask. Wagner's sheath inflammation/tear/injury is well-known and well-reported, though the vagaries of injuries such as this tend to make the terms a bit vague. Surgery is a possibility down the line, but as usual, is a last resort.

tdogg (socal): Will: Part of the steroids debate that gets overlooked are the potential costs to performance. Reputedly Bonds lost time in 1999 cuz he tore muscles off his tendon after using. McGwire, Caminiti, Sosa, Boone, all had fairly precipitious declines after huge peaks. After all we illegalize these substances because of alleged harmful effects to health. Before we rush to put asteriks by people's records, dont the costs have to balanced against any gains, which are speculative at best?

Will Carroll: Great point. With steroids, it's hard to get to the subtleties, such as pitcher usage "evening out" the sluggers that get focused on or the rapid downturns some see. When we look at the 12 players that got busted last year in the majors, you have to wonder -- what did they get out of the use? Was the star a bit faded on Palmeiro's 2005 batch?

sanchez101 (santa barbara): Is there any good news for Dodger fans? How's Jeff Kent doing and how much is the medical staff to blame for all the injuries over the past 13 months?

Will Carroll: Good news for Dodger fans. Let's see. Thinking. Thinking. Vin Scully's fun to listen to. Dodger Dogs are still good. There's some young prospects coming.

Kent seemed fine last night, though beanings like that are seldom easy to just walk away from. He got lucky, I think.

How much do we blame the medical staff? I'm not sure. We certainly have to look at them as part of the problem, along with the various front offices that have provided some risky players. Every medical staff stands or falls on its merit. The Dodgers staff is qualified, hardworking, and is certainly working hard to figure out the answer to this question.

Will (Watertown, MA): Really like the Year of living Chemically Blog. I play in a men's hardball league here in Boston and I've recently started taking Sci-Fit's Kre-Alkalyn (a higher ph buffered formulation of Creatine in pill form). Hoping to gain a couple pounds and more strength. Know anything about it?

Will Carroll: Thanks - I'll have more on it soon. Travel and sickness have kept me from doing more recently, though I've kept my initial weight loss off. I'm not familiar with the brand you're taking, but I've also been taking the same supplement as part of Cellucor's M5. As with creatine monohydrate, dehydration is a problem, so superhydrate if you're using these and CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN before taking any supplement. I have some of the top nutritionists, physicians, and exercise physiologists working with me on this project, so take it seriously if you're going to do your own body hacking.

mwball75 (Cincinnati): You've always been down on KRod's delivery. What is it about his delivery that bothers you? Is this recent cramping injury worrisome?

Will Carroll: Have you seen it? Good lord. It's a mess. An unholy, unbalance, violent start-stop mess -- that results in a powerful fastball and nearly unhittable slider. You take the good with the bad. That Bud Black (another name that should be mentioned in the top pitching coach discussion) hasn't altered it tells me a lot. There's a health/effectiveness tradeoff for a lot of pitchers, K-Rod especially.

I'm not particularly worried about the hamstring, no.

Patton1941 (NYC): Will Beltran's right hamstring be year long problem?

Will Carroll: It depends on how you classify problems. Is it something that needs to be watched, could recur, and will need treatment? Yes, so if that's a problem. The key is that it's a known problem, relatively easy to maintain and treat, and caught early. Beltran could well turn into Ken Griffey if the hamstring isn't maintained at this level, so its important. Seeing the success the Mets have had with Jose Reyes's similar problem has to be a plus.

Dan (Montclair): It's been written that the Pirates early failures in terms of their starting pitching is due to the new pitching coach trying to iron out the mechanics of their pitchers. First, how long does it normally take to do that, and second, why wasn't this done in the offseason?

Will Carroll: It depends on the pitcher and what the fix is. A simple mechanical change like "keep your elbow higher" or "stride more" can take about ten minutes to teach and then repetition to make a natural part of the delivery. Something more extreme can take months or years. The problem is not so much in the teaching as it is the integration. I can teach someone how to throw a changeup in an hour. To make it a good pitch is going to take weeks of repetition.

Dennis (Newark): As you are the only person who watch every pitch of last season, you are probably the only person who can accurately answer this: what % of pitchers are "consistent" with their mechanics? I guess a more basic question would be what should we expect out of a pitcher's mechanics? In a normal start, do the mechanics change from pitch to pitch?

Will Carroll: I doubt I'm the only one. There's video departments across baseball. Percentage ... good question. I'll say half of current starters are "good" mechanically. Problems here and there, but overall, not someone you'd really want to change in any meaningful way. These are, after all, the elite players in the world when they make it to this level.

In a normal start, they shouldn't change much, but this is where fatigue often shows itself. Mechanical changes make those fatigued pitches "cost more" to an arm and that's where the big risk is. Good mechanics can overcome fatigue or at least protect the arm. It's why "dead arm" is actually something of a positive. Muscles regenerate and recover from even severe fatigue. A torn labrum or a snapped UCL requires intervention.

DerekJetersAura (Houston): How's Wade Miller progressing? Is he completely back? It's easy to find updates on Wood and Prior, but not WaMi.

Will Carroll: Miller's slightly behind the big guns, but is making good progress. Based on the most recent information, Miller's on target for late May. He's throwing in Arizona, building to a simulated game that should come in the next ten days.

Steven (Manalapan): Hypothetically speaking, if PED's could enhance a person's vision, how long would that benefit take to wear off once the person stopped using them?

Will Carroll: I know of no study that's shown any PED to actually enhance vision.

Ray (USA): What are your initial impressions of Kenji Johjima?

Will Carroll: So far, so good. He's hitting well, doesn't seem to be having any communication problems, and is generally everything the M's hoped he would be. The only criticism I've heard is that he doesn't frame the ball well, moving cat-quick back there and stabbing at the ball, much like Johnny Bench did. If that's the worst thing, I think Seattle fans will be happy.

He's no Bugs Bunny though.

Velez (Miami): Will we see a major league pitcher sue an organization for some type of overusage/abuse in the next decade?

Will Carroll: Hmm. No, probably not. They'd be blackballed in a way that not even Curt Flood would understand. I know of one pitcher that considered it and I'm sure he's glad now he didn't. I'd be more curious to see a college or high school pitcher go after an uninformed coach.

lpiklor (chicago): will you teach me to throw a change up?

Will Carroll: Yes. Email me to set up a time.

Oh, you do have to come to Indy.

horn75 (Chicago, IL): What supplements have you taken and are you pleased with the results?

Will Carroll: Wow, long list here, so I'll hit the highlights and promise a more complete list over at willcarroll.mlblogs.com in the near future.

I'm taking Avant Labs HEAT, Leptigen, and Sesathin. Muscletech's Nitrotech and GAKIC. Cellucor's M5, P6, and R3. iSatori's CE-XL creatine ester. ALRI's Regeneration-X. Ergopharm's Stamin02 and Psychotropin. AminoVital by the gallon.

Craig (Decatur): I've watched a lot of B&B in my day, and while I don't remember any baseball players referenced, I'd have to guess Dick Pole as being Beavis' favorite.

Will Carroll: Dick Pole's not a player! Cornholio likes the Cards.

MarkDuell (Columbus): What's the status of Chipper Jones and his bad knee/ankle? Are we looking at the minimum DL time?

Will Carroll: Near minimum. Chipper doesn't compensate well for injuries, so the DL move was to protect himself from himself. Smart move by the Braves.

Peter (Long Valley): You saw every inning of every game? at 30 minutes a game, that's still 8 hours a day, right? how did you pace it out?

Will Carroll: All year long. I finished out in February. Not something I'll try and do again, but when I realized how close I was in December, I got a bit obsessive.

phil44 (Boston): Re: tdogg's question. Steroids also help heal injuries faster, in many cases, in addition to increasing the likelihood of injuries. I know in pro wrestling, many guys either go on the gas or increase usage when injured for this reason (and to look cut when they return since physiques are still a big part of that sport).

Will Carroll: Great point. For every positive, there's a negative. If it all equals out and there's the risk you're going to be forced out of the game with a cloud over your career, why?

Then again, there's perfectly good ways to get around the results. Players *are* using banned substances, prescription drugs, and more esoteric techniques like blood cleaning to beat the tests.

mhixpgh (Pittsburgh): Okay Will....as you are coming to bat in PNC Park what song do they play for you?

Will Carroll: Bat? Oof, I can't hit for crap, so they'd probably play something like the theme from the Bozo Show.

If I'm pitching, my intimidating knuckler comes in to "Wake Up" by Rage Against The Machine.

mcscolo (denver): Isn't it about time for BP to host an event in Denver? You know, we do have a MLB team here. Sure, we're not the Yankees, or even the Brewers, but at least we're better than the Royals.

Will Carroll: Paging Paul Swydan. Paging Paul Swydan.

Rob Cook (Dallas): Why do you think the BBWAA has been so unwilling to recognize Web-based writers? And do you think that hostility will soften any time soon?

Will Carroll: There's no value add to them now. I don't think there's hostility, but web-based writers haven't made a good case for inclusion. I think we can and often do add to the dialogue.

Rob Cook (Dallas): Will, knowing Cornholio's love of "holes," I'd guess Beavis' favorite player is Pujols...

Will Carroll: Yeah! Now I just have to get Mike Judge on BP Radio.

Handol (Fort Lee): would you try and alter Sheff's approach at the plate to turn his monsterous foul balls down the left field line fair? why doesn't he just move up in the box and angle a little towards right field?

Will Carroll: Me? I know as much about hitting as I do about quantum physics. Wait, I know a lot more about quantum physics. Sheffield seems like he knows what he's doing.

ithistle (Boston): Will, What do you think about the misinformation we seem to see more and more in regards to injuries? Two examples being Jose Guillen's wrist and Coco Crisp's finger - where initial reports changed drastically the next day. Why is this? Or is this occuring no more than it has in the past?

Will Carroll: There are teams that still think there's an advantage to be had by being less than forthcoming. With Guillen, it was a change of diagnosis, not a conscious attempt to obfuscate. I think it was the same with Crisp. There's still a lot of art in sports medicine, not just science.

mhixpgh (Pittsburgh): I have a crazy idea....why doesn't every team make the #5 starter a knuckleballer? Throws off the timing of the opposing hitters....the #5 guy would be VERY low maintenance....etc

Will Carroll: Find me thirty major-league quality knucklers.

Will Carroll: Sorry I don't have time to answer these all, but you know where to find me. Hope to see you all at the ballparks, calling in to BP Radio, or at the various Feeds and functions we'll have all summer.

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