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Chat: Will Carroll

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday June 27, 2006 2:00 PM ET chat session with Will Carroll.


Will Carroll is an author of Baseball Prospectus.

Will Carroll: I'm starting early so that I don't get chided by my marathon-chatting colleagues and so I can get to as many questions as possible by the time I have to leave for my weekly radio gig at ESPN 950 in Indianapolis. So, powered by a full pot of coffee and a full queue of questions, let's get to chattin'.

BigLefty (Little Rock, AR): Will, We've corresponded about this issue recently, but I would like for you to bring it to the attention of subscribers of Baseball Prospectus. The issue involves the practice of having adolescents throw weighted balls in mid-season. Several boys in central Arkansas have developed significant rotator cuff injuries and/or growth plate injuries after they attended pitching camps or practices that were guaranteed to increase their throwing velocity by 5 MPH. One component of the practice involves throwing balls that weigh 7, 10, 14 ounces and 2 lbs for a total 20 to 21 times each. I have discussed this issue with several prominent orthopedic surgeons and they have denounced the program as foolish, especially in adolescents. The proponents of this program, however, claim that it is "too new for orthopedic surgeons to now anything about." If so, wouldn't that make it an experimental program? I know that kids as young as 6-8 years old in the Little Rock area have participated in such practices. I would appreciate it if you would address the issue of adolescents throwing weighted balls and the safety/efficacy of such programs.

Will Carroll: You just did, Lefty.

I get a lot of email every time this issue comes up. We're doing things to pitchers that border on the criminal and certainly venture towards the negligent. The program you note sounds similar to the one I spoke of in a recent column and no one - no one - I have spoken to has any scientific backing for this. I'll go on record as saying this program is to be avoided. I'm not a fan of weighted balls, though there are those that use them. I'm a devotee of the scientific methods of Tom House and the National Pitching Association, though there are others out there that get good results. Paul Nyman, Ron Wolforth, even Mike Marshall -- I may not agree with all of them, but they're willing to discuss and research their methods and, at heart, they want to help kids.

To any parent, ask questions when your son/daughter is asked to start any new program by any coach or teacher. If the coach can't explain it, it's better to err on the side of caution. I don't have every answer on this -- no one does -- but if you want to send it my way, I'll make sure to do my best to get the right answer. Jim Andrews, Glenn Fleisig, Tom House, Tim Kremchek -- all have the same goal. To make the game of baseball better by keeping the young arms healthier.

Jody (Houston): More proof that Albert Pujols is not human. He returns from a serious oblique (?) strain, supposedly making him gone for 6 weeks in 3 or 4 weeks.

Will Carroll: If I was a more cynical sort, I'm sure there'd be some snark here. I'm not. Pujols has a demonstrated ability to heal quickly and to play through conditions that put mere mortals on the bench. Pujols is *not* normal, so why does it surprise us that he heals quickly?

Shep (Indiana): Is the Cardinals rotation seriously this bad? No one expected amazing things from Suppan and Marquis, but they are imploding. Mulder is injured, and Ponson is well, Sidney Ponson. Is there any hope beyond Carpenter and Reyes?

Will Carroll: Yes. It is. Dave Duncan is a victim of his own success in one respect and a victim of his failures in another. Duncan is someone that has been great at dealing with reclamation projects and not so great at dealing with young pitchers. The Cards tried to save some money by getting Duncan the type of pitchers that he succeeds with, but he doesn't have a 100% rate with those guys. He has so many projects this year that it shouldn't surprise us that some are failing.

Andy (Oak Park, IL): Nomar Garciaparra... a) has his injury woes under some sort of control b) is a ticking timebomb waiting to go off c) is showing the last great stretch of hitting in an unfortunately injury marred career c) is some combination of all three ?

Will Carroll: A) I wouldn't say control. He's a guy who's healthy for now. If you want to get Strat about this, he's rolling the right numbers. He's not less risky, he's more healthy -- those aren't mutually exclusive.

B) See above. I wouldn't call him a timebomb. He's risky.

C) I would say it shows that injuries have held him back since -- well, maybe 2001. How much age has eroded his skills and stamina remains to be seen.

Joe (Washington, DC): Hi Will. A Randy Johnson question--he's pitching so much better recently he seems like a completely different pitcher. Isn't it possible he was hiding an injury and has just now gotten over it?

Will Carroll: No, I don't think so. In absence of solid evidence, I don't think most players or teams lie about things. Hide? Obfuscate? Sure, but seldom outright lie. Johnson and the Yanks say that Johnson was out of sorts. What put him back in sorts? I wish I knew.


Will Carroll: You only get to go ALL CAPS if you serve the best beer in the Indianapolis area.

Snap, it isn't a curse, it's poor decision making. The Cubs had to choose between Patterson and Baker, one that looks like both will be out of town. Who knows if Patterson could have been successful in Chicago or if the Cubs could have handled his development any differently. You're looking at examples of success to justify tolerating the miserable team that calls Wrigley home in 2006. I don't see you complaining about how Bobby Hill or Kyle Farnsworth are playing.

theking (grinnell, ia): Mark Mulder has to be injured. There is no way a former all-star can be this bad & his velocity is down considerably. Any word on this?

Will Carroll: Umm, yes. Injuries are why you end up on the DL. Mulder has impingement in his pitching shoulder and a frayed labrum. I wrote about this on Monday.

I've been asked to remind everyone about the San Diego Ballpark Feed. There's few better places to spend a day of a long weekend than the ol' ballpark -- or actually the beautiful new ballpark they have in San Diego. Sandy Alderson will be there answering questions, I'm told, and that's worth your time. Add in Joe Sheehan, Dave Pease and some special guests? Money, baby.

Matt P (San Diego): Will, first off congrats on your award. Don't you think over zealous fantasy and scoresheet league owners (to be more specific) should be put down by lethal injection if they patronize fellow owners for making trades that they deem as unfair... escpecially if they end up being as wrong as a pregnant Brittany Spears trying to squeeze herself into her stage attire?

Will Carroll: Thanks. I'm honored to be nominated, let alone to have won.

Bad trade offers are part of the game. They're made in real baseball, so why not fantasy? Just note it and move on. It's as easy to say no as it would be for Britney to ... no, wait, too easy.

cirwin (San Carlos CA): Have you notices any lingering effects of oblique injuries? At least for Noah Lowry, it seems his velocity has been off 2-3 mph. Thanks.

Will Carroll: You got it -- the injury does seem to linger, though many speculate that it's fear of recurrence that has the bigger effect. The Giants have great results with their advanced imaging work on obliques, so I'm not sure that Lowry can blame his recent woes entirely on his oblique (or anything else.)

Patrick (St. Louis): When a minor league player gets injured and requires surgery, something like a TJ procedure, who picks up the tab? I can see the organization paying if it's a legitimate prospect, but what about fringe players and minor league vets?

Will Carroll: One of the surprising things to most fans is that baseball teams are run like businesses. Employees have a health plan, worker's comp, and in many cases, private insurance. Some might even have the stuff that duck sells. So who pays? Insurance.

ssimon (Pelham, NY): Will, as to your proposed solution to the PED problem: Would even a $X million donation to anti-PED research and education from one day's MLB revenues be enough to quiet media coverage of baseball's "steroid problem?"

Will Carroll: My proposed solution was to designate one days pay for players and gate receipts for owners to fund more research.

Research is not the only answer and certainly won't do much to quiet the uneven coverage of baseball and PEDs. It will help, certainly more than what baseball is doing now. A billion dollar industry contributing the equivalent of pocket change to try and chase a test that few think is possible is Quixotic. Selig & Co. need to step away from the windmills.

Here's a question for you: Where are the public service announcements? Where are the "Hoot's Chalk Talks" that were announced as part of the million dollar donation towards education? Nothing against the Boys & Girls Clubs, but could we have a bit less of Al Leiter saying "butt" and a little more about minority involvement in the game and anti-PED discussion?

Josh (West Palm): Will, After reading the story from last Thursday's UTK, I was almost sick to my stomach, and there's no doubt that's a tribute to your writings on the subject. However, it seems obvious that more education is needed, since this abuse of young arms continues to happen. Seems the best thing that could happen would be a series of PSA's and educational promotions for coaches and parents, put forth by MLB. Any ideas who we should write to in order to suggest/campaign for/demand such a program? Also, think the lack of desire to talk about PED's, especially to young people, will hamper MLB's desire to talk about other health issues to its future employees? Talking about the hippo at the front door might require them to acknowledge the elephant in the room, after all.

Will Carroll: I do think we all have to take this up as a cause. I have my little soapbox and try to make use of it. We all have to do our part.

Health issues are getting coverage. I gave short shrift to the beat writers a couple weeks ago in regards to Harden. There are a lot of writers out there who try to discuss health issues and some do a very good job. We just need to make this more and more of an issue, something that will need to be driven by the fans.

jelias (Atchison, KS): Will, are you the king of all baseball media? Actual Question: Can WM Pena hinder his return timetable by rushing his rehab as it seems he is attempting in Wednesday's Globe. More importantly, how long can the Sox keep him in AAA for a "rehab assignment" so that he could get some more seasoning in less stressfull environs.

Will Carroll: Oh gosh no. That's Peter Gammons, who I'm hoping to run into down in Texas on Sunday.

Any athlete, Wily Mo or otherwise, can hurt himself by rushing, but remember that injuries all vary, players all vary, and treatment certainly varies. Pena -- and most players -- are watched closely by top-notch, world-class medical staffs. It's very seldom that anyone other than the player forces someone back into the game too quickly and even then, it's done with subtle pressure and with the full knowledge of the player.

Position players have 20 days for rehab assignments, starting with the first game played. Pitchers get 30 days.

tommybones (new york): Hi Will, My annoying fantasy league has Dave Roberts out for "two to six weeks". Can you narrow down the estimate for me? And what restrictions will he probably be under when he returns? How about Mike Macdougal? Haven't heard anything about him recently. Thanks!

Will Carroll: Roberts has a bruised knee, due to sliding into an unpadded area of the wall. I'd guess that it will be 3-4 weeks; a bruise heals, but Roberts has a history of leg problems and is reliant on his speed for most of his value.

MacDougal is on a rehab assignment and crossed paths with Derrek Lee during his one-game stint in Iowa. He's close.

will (Los Angeles): Does moving Izturis to 3B from SS really help his arm?

Will Carroll: No, but it does help the Dodgers infield defense. It probably is cancelled out by him being so far below average offensively for a 3B. I don't see this as a permanent solution, though Bill Mueller's career-threatening situation will make it longer-term than anyone expected.

Charles (NY): Which tandem has a better potential ceiling, Rogers/Gallardo or Garza/Slowey - and why?

Will Carroll: Wow. Tough one. I am a member of the Yo Gallardo Fan Club and have been since Reid Nichols first tipped me to him a couple Winter Meetings ago. Rogers has made a lot of progress as Kevin Goldstein has noted, in large part to the Brewers' patience and the work of some great coaches.

Slowey's got that insane K/BB ratio, but I haven't seen Garza since he was drafted. I'll go with the Brewers pair by a nose.

Bryan (Maryland): Going Forward: Milledge or Francoeur?

Will Carroll: Milledge. You can't go wrong with either, but I'll take the younger player without the demonstrated hole in his game.

jgalt73 (Portland, Oregon): Will, How common is the towel drill for major league pitchers, and what is its purpose? Thanks.

Will Carroll: Good question. The House-created drill isn't common, but it's not uncommon either. It depends on the pitching coach and the individual players. I've never seen a Cubs pitcher besides Prior use the towel, but I'm certainly not there every day.

usedumdixey (Los Angeles): Can you give me an update on Nick Johnson's recent woes? Just Nick being Nick, or something that will require DL time?

Will Carroll: If you're Jim Bowden, you take a couple days on the bench with a sore back over all the various achies and breakies that Johnson has had over the years. I'd like to see Johnson rested a bit more, but the Nats staff has done a pretty good job with him, especially considering their facilities and budget. I'm hoping this will change.

phil44 (Boston): What say you about mandatory pitch counts and other related regulatons in the Little League World Series, in addition to what already is there? I suspect it may have a trickle-down effect nationwide to coaches and instructors.

Will Carroll: I'm for it, though I think that Little League and High School associations are losing control of it. There are more and more unregulated travel teams and that's where much of the problem lies. Kids go to these weekend showcase tourneys and get overused in hopes of "being seen." I think we need certified coaches. As a parent, given a choice, wouldn't you rather have your kid on a team with trained and certified coaches?

Here's a better solution: Require Athletic Trainers at these events and give them full power to pull players.

ChuckR (Addison, Il): Are you going to run the trade rumors column again this year? Wills Mills or somesuch?

Will Carroll: Still deciding. I love doing them and working the phones, but I realize that I'm no Gammons or Rosenthal. I'm a creation of my readers -- if you want them, I'll give them to you.

matt (new york): Gary Sheffield's situation puzzles me: He collides with Hillenbrand, gets the A-OK from the hand specialist, goes on the DL, comes back, and THEN a week after he returns its decided that he needs surgery that puts him out until September. How was he ever allowed back on the field in the first place??? Did the Yankees goof?

Will Carroll: There's no goof here. The injury was there, but Sheffield tried to play through it. Let's assume that he knew the risks and was assured that it was reasonably safe to try. It didn't work, but the chance that it would makes it worth trying. Conservative treatment is seldom the wrong choice, especially if you have a good understanding of the timetables.

ssimon (Pelham, NY): Will, As the author of Saving the Pitcher, you might be biased, but do you think it's possible for a person to teach kids how to throw a quality changeup when that person has never himself thrown a quality changeup?

Will Carroll: Yes, it's quite possible. Not every science teacher is Steven Hawking, not every mathematician is Nate Silver, and not every pitching coach was Tom Seaver or even Orel Hershiser. I can teach the gyroball, but don't throw hard enough to make mine move.

Bill Romanowski (Denver, CO): How do you explain the disparate treatment -- both in Congress and in the court of public opinion -- of MLB and the NFL in regards to performance enhancing drugs, when performance enhancers are at least as prevalent in the NFL, if not more so?

Will Carroll: Simple, Romo. Better public relations and a more forward looking policy. The NFL just banned amphetamines recently, not because of pressure or even an infestation of their game, but because it's the necessary step if they don't want closer scrutiny.

Here's a question -- I give baseball a lot of crap about their research funding, but I have no idea how much the NFL is chipping in. I've never even considered it, which tells you how well they manage the situation.

ssimon (Pelham, NY): Will, I guess Jose Reyes has put his hamstring issues behind him (excuse the pun)?

Will Carroll: For now, yes. Reyes will always have more risk but as he distances himself from the problems, that risk reduces. He'll hit some nadir at a point in the future, then age will begin to raise the risk. I don't have a good comp for Reyes, someone that had similar early career problems and overcame them, holding on to their skills.

moonkyu (SF): Hi Will! What's up with Peavy's shoulder? I was watching him warm up at a game and he was just soft tossing the ball to the plate. Is this something that he has always done, or is it something that is new because of his tendinitis?

Will Carroll: I can't speak to his side session -- I don't know if that's normal, but a lot of pitchers don't go full-speed. Leo Mazzone talks about pitching for control and feel between starts, so I'll assume this was something similar. I know Peavy had been skipping his side sessions while learning to deal with his shoulder problems. I'm still very worried about Peavy in the long term, but this would be a better question for the San Diego Ballpark Feed.

nolanreichl (washington, dc): To what extent do you believe the federal government's lax regulation of "dietary supplements" undermines MLB's drug testing plan? Is it possible that many of the "who me?" positives we seemed to be getting last year truly were the result of the detection of substances bought over the counter and perfectly legally at places like GNC? Is it possible that Palmeiro's positive could have resulted from a dieatry supplement?

Will Carroll: 1. Yes, though I'm not sure governmental regulation is going to help.

2. No, I don't think any of the tests were so-called 'legitimate substance' positives. Athletes are responsible for what they put in their bodies, period.

3. No. No way, no how.

dianagramr (Brooklyn): Hiya Will! First off ... you were right ... "Southern Rock Opera" is a GREAT album! Dark, disturbing, powerful. Thanks for the heads-up. Now, back to baseball ... Given the surplus of OF/DH-types in Tampa Bay, why aren't the Rays sending Gomes out for surgery NOW, rather than wait for the end of the year. I know he's one of their only power threats, but it itsn't like they were gonna contend this year anyway. Thanks!

Will Carroll: Thanks, D -- no one better than Drive-By Truckers in my book. I'll miss their stop in Indy unfortunately, but if anyone gets a chance, this tour with the Black Crows and Robert Randolph should be awesome.

Timetables. It's something we need to understand, so let's use Gomes as the example. We'll assume that the Rays A) have a clue and B) understand exactly what's going on with Gomes. If his recovery period is going to be (for example) four months and they want him back by spring training, they can use him up to that four month point, which is the end of the season. If it's six, well, that changes things. Timetables are key and a big part of decisions like these.

goodwine10 (Yorktown, NY): Who do you think has a greater chance of pitching in the Bronx this year: Pavano or Hughes? I'm just joking, I know there's no way Pavano is going to pitch again. How about Hughes?

Will Carroll: Expect Pavano back. The bone chips in his elbow actually amount to a best case scenario. We've seen pitcher after pitcher return from those, including Johan Santana and Kelvim Escobar. Hughes? Well, if he remains a Yankee, remains healthy, and remains effective, I'd guess we'd see him in August, September at the latest.

TheRedsMan (Chicago): Will, with Ken Griffey now possessing the range of a (insert something slow here), the buzz on Reds boards is to move him to LF or 1B. Pride issues aside, Griffey claims that the types of movement required at 1B are actually more likely to reaggrivate the plethora of hamstring/knee issues he's had. What's your take? We're going nuts here watching Hatteberg man 1B while Junior and Dunn turn everything to left center in to a double...

Will Carroll: You're comparing Griffey now to Griffey then. He's a 93 currently, according to Clay Davenport's numbers, which is below average, but in line with the last couple seasons. Is Austin Kearns or Ryan Freel a better CF? It certainly seems so at this stage. I'd swap Kearns and Griffey for now, leaving Freel as the valuable utility guy.

fieldofdreams (minneapolis): Did you see Tim Hudson last night? He's looked awful for weeks, lack of movement + control problems. Do you think he is hiding an injury?

Will Carroll: I just think he's off. Billy Beane sure looks smart for having dealt off Mulder and Hudson when he did, though I'd argue both were slightly early. Better early than late, even with almost no return at the major league level on either trade.

dirk (Germany): So how good is Jose Reyes?

Will Carroll: He's really, really good. With both Reyes and Wright, I'm not sure we've seen how good they could be yet. That's scary.

Andy (Oak Park, IL): What would a baseball coaching certification program look like? USA Wrestling has a three level system in which each step on the ladder involves teaching the certification for the previous step. Would something like this work for baseball?

Will Carroll: That wouldn't be a bad model. I'll leave it to smarter people than me -- guys like the team at USA Baseball -- to implement.

Dan Haren (Oakland, CA): "Better early than late, even with almost no return at the major league level on either trade." Huh? Kiko and I are pretty good, and Barton will be, you just wait.

Will Carroll: D'oh! I blanked on Haren. I was thinking of the Hudson deal. Yeah, Haren's pretty good.

ssimon (Pelham, NY): Will, You always write how secretive the A's are about their players' injuries. Could you make an educated guess about Oakland's chances to win the AL West based on Bradley, Thomas, Chavez, etc. getting healthy?

Will Carroll: As much as I like what the Rangers have done, I think they need their pitching to develop (or be turned into something through trade.) That leaves the A's as the team many of us thought would be a 95 win team.

emanski (trenton): Will, young people go to you to learn how to pitch - learn new pitches, learn effective conditioning, etc. Yet at the major league level it is believed that instruction plays almost a wholly unquantifiable role in a pitcher's success. Is this because there is an inverse relationship between overall talent levels and ability to make a difference? Or because a coach's instruction style can't possibly work with every learner? What do you think?

Will Carroll: I think its more the unquantifiable part. We have no way of measuring the effect of a coach. How much credit does Rick Down get for Jose Reyes? How much should he get? All the points you make hold true, but the market also selects and rewards the best. While you and I don't know how much credit Down should get, I'm guessing the Mets do. There's more than just results that go into coaching decisions, but I think the market is relatively efficient.

emanski (trenton): Will, young people go to you to learn how to pitch - learn new pitches, learn effective conditioning, etc. Yet at the major league level it is believed that instruction plays almost a wholly unquantifiable role in a pitcher's success. Is this because there is an inverse relationship between overall talent levels and ability to make a difference? Or because a coach's instruction style can't possibly work with every learner? What do you think?

Will Carroll: I think its more the unquantifiable part. We have no way of measuring the effect of a coach. How much credit does Rick Down get for Jose Reyes? How much should he get? All the points you make hold true, but the market also selects and rewards the best. While you and I don't know how much credit Down should get, I'm guessing the Mets do. There's more than just results that go into coaching decisions, but I think the market is relatively efficient.

tcfatone (new york): Speaking of Reyes and Wright, care to put your two cents into a big NYC topic? There's a debate between Mets and Yanks fans in town as to which duo is better, ARod & Jeter or Wright and Reyes.

Will Carroll: There's no wrong answer here. If you live in NYC, you're seeing two of the best left sides, period. I don't know where they rank historically -- Wright and Reyes haven't built that case quite yet -- but wow, both are something to see.

Dave83 (SD): Any word yet on Capuano after that ninth-inning liner off his golden left arm?

Will Carroll: Doesn't sound bad. He's going to be examined by team physicians before today's game, so we'll know more then. My guess is he may need to be skipped, something the Brewers can handle with their dual-five system.

dianagramr (Brooklyn): Any word on when there will be a reliable test for HGH out there? The chances of the MLBPA allowing a urine test in addition to blood testing in the next CBA is ____%. (p.s. almost Happy Birthday to you!)

Will Carroll: Thanks. I'm not Big KG, so I'm not so good with the ____ questions. My guess on a reliable HGH test is based on conversations I've had with the testers. Dr. Olivier Rabin at WADA-AMA said last year that it was 12-18 months away, but he might say the same thing now.

Blood tests? I just don't know. To me, it's very invasive and would need to be done nearly every day to be effective. A pure random approach could do something, but again, there's no perfect solution.

emanski (trenton): When a young pitcher throws a curveball, but it doesn't curve, what is he most likely to be doing wrong?

Will Carroll: Depends on what you mean by young. If he's 12, what he's doing wrong is throwing the curve at all. I've loosened my position on this SLIGHTLY. Kids want to throw curves, so if they've mastered the fastball and changeup, I am teaching a curve. Most problems I've seen come when kids don't have their basic biomechanics down and then try to change things for the curve. Same motion, different grip.

tcfwine (Brooklyn): If Mussina wins 20 games this year (taking that ridiculously overrated monkey off his back), does he make it over the Hall of Fame hump?

Will Carroll: Paging Jay Jaffe. Mr. JAWS, please pick up the white courtesy phone.

To me? No. He could become the next Bert Blyleven.

bctowns (Driven By (Truckerville)): Will, Just caught that show in Chicago this past Saturday, and it was seriously one of the best concerts I've ever seen. The Crowes covered Derek and the Dominos, Traffic, and The Band. Amazing. You need to check it out.

Will Carroll: Now you're just taunting me.

Room for a quick music pick in here: Rock Kills Kid's album "Are You Nervous?" It sounds like a cross between The Cure and The Killers with a side of early U2. Well worth checking out. I give it bonus points for addressing agoraphobia and panic disorder, something I'm no stranger to.

tcfatone (new york): Nice dodge!

Will Carroll: There's no dodge there. Both is a very legitimate answer. I'm not sure which gives a team a better chance to win now or in the next three years. I'm not willing to project out further than that, which is where the Mets duo would seem to have the advantage.

Chris (Detroit): If you could choose to look at one stat over the course of a year or two for a minor league pitcher and predict the risk of a serious arm injury, what stat would you choose?

Will Carroll: PIP, or P/IP. Pitches per inning pitched. I'm a big believer in pitch efficiency as a predictor. Someone that can command his pitches and has enough whatever - velocity, deception, movement - to get three outs quickly usually has solid mechanics. Not always, but you asked for one.

johncwhitehouse (NYC): I went to the Yankees- Indians game a week or so ago, and saw Victor Martinez literally limp out to the pen to warm up the since departed Jason Johnson. Any word on injuries from the team? (And while we're on the subject... what happened to them?)

Will Carroll: Martinez has some known problems but none serious enough to keep his bat out of the lineup. He's been playing some at 1B and some at DH to rest him while keeping his bat in the lineup. I think that long term, he may move off catcher.

Indians? Things just don't always fit together like you think. The talent is there, but it's not working for some reason. I know the Indians front office is looking hard for answers. I still LOVE this team in the longer-term.

Frustrated ((New York)): Fish or Cut Bait: Eric Gagne, Kerry Wood, Bartolo Colon, Ben Sheets, Randy Johnson.

Will Carroll: In order: Cut, Fish, Fish, Fish, Fish.

I'm not even that negative on Gagne.

brian65 (NYC): Will, rumor had it that Morneau was suffering from bone chips in the elbow and that was what caused his sub-par performance previously. Now he's hitting like gangbusters. Any thoughts on the elbow issue? Thanks.

Will Carroll: If true, elbow chips move. If he's now comfortable, great. Chips are a pretty easy fix, so I don't see this as a major problem either way. It's the most conventional injury Morneau has had, at least.

pinchyqat (Seattle): Should i be cautiously optimistic about Ben Sheets, now that he's throwing to hitters again? Will he be back to his cruel self in the second half, or do we need to write this year off and place our hope in an offseason of healing and strengthening?

Will Carroll: I'd be more than cautiously optimistic. I'm biased, sure, but I think that the Brewers medical staff *and* front office has handled this perfectly. The Brewers had to have everything go just right to contend this season, so being conservative with Sheets was the smart thing to do. They need him for 2007, 2008, 2009 much more than they do 2006. Sheets in 2008:Brewers::K Rogers in 2006:Tigers.

Evan (Vancouver, BC): Are catcher masks tested before certification to determine whether they protect from concussive impacts?

Will Carroll: Good question. I don't know. Anyone?

ChuckR (Addison, IL): With the (hopefully) end of the Baker era on the north side, do you think that his single most lasting impression on the franchise will be the abuse of young arms? I know he complained of a 'dead arm' recently, whatever that means, but do you think that Carlos Zambrano may actually have some bionics in him?

Will Carroll: Blaming Dusty Baker is fun, but a bit too easy. We miss the fact that the Cubs very nearly made the World Series and that would have excused almost any behavior, as we've seen with Ozzie Guillen. There's some organizational blame to go around to more than just Baker. Firing him doesn't necessarily solve things; it's not like Bob Brenly is the most progressive manager in the world.

Three years ago, Scott Boras told me that Zambrano would be the best of the Cubs starters. I laughed. I will never doubt Boras' assessment again, however.

Tim (DC): Did you watch much of the College WS? How would you evaluate the mechanics of such draftees as Miller, Carp, etc?

Will Carroll: I didn't watch much and don't feel I got enough of a look at anyone. Miller's mechanics look pretty solid from the tape I saw before the draft. I also really like Bard.

Know who I really liked? Tim Lincecum, who will be a guest on BP Radio soon. (Nice plug, eh)?

Will Carroll: With that, I have to head out for radio. Thanks for all the great questions. I'm sorry I couldn't get to all of the hundreds still there, but keep reading, keep emailing, and we'll change the baseball world slowly.

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