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Chat: Will Carroll

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday February 19, 2008 1:00 PM ET chat session with Will Carroll.


Will Carroll covers the injury beat for Baseball Prospectus. His "Team Health Reports" kick off next month.

Will Carroll: I'm here, I'm on time, and it's f**king cold in Indiana again. I've got some Peet's a-brewin', so let's chat.

Silv ((NY, NY)): Will, thanks for chatting! Tell Jenn we all say hello...questions as to Hanley: (i) is the shoulder back to normal? I've heard rumors that he may suffer from hypermobility of the joint; any truth? (ii) how much, if at all, is the drop in order going to affect his performance?

Will Carroll: I'll do that.

Yes, I'm hearing the same thing, but it was just the labrum that they cleaned up, so the surgeons thought any mobility of the joint wasn't a problem. I think we'll see a drop in power, at least in the first half, but overall, it's not an injury that tends to linger, at least when caught early. There's a point where he'll get to the Scott Rolen stage if this goes chronic.

Or (Dallas): Should Rangers fans worry about Taylor Teagarden's injury history, or has he put it all behind him?

Will Carroll: There's not really that much to worry about. The elbow broke, now it's fixed. He hit well at two levels and wasn't horrible behind the plate from what I've heard. The logjam at C is going to be an interesting story for the Rangers over the next two years.

jimbo34 (chicago): I am in a keeper league and trying to decide between Fausto Carmona and Carlos Zambrano--Zambrano has done it longer but always seems to be an injury risk where Carmona is younger with more upside...your thoughts?

Will Carroll: I'd agree with you on both. Depends -- are you playing for this year (Zambrano) or building for the future (Carmona). Carmona's much, much more risky this year, even if Cleveland is well aware and handles those risks properly.

sorrento (cleveland, oh): Will, I noticed last year that Pat Neshek and Jonothan Broxton kind of wore out and fell apart at the end of the season. Are they, and other heavily used set up men, high risk this year?

Will Carroll: Yes, there was a recent article on the Phillies -- sorry, don't have a link handy -- that talked about usage. We don't have a good model for reliever usage yet, but it's likely a physiological model rather than a mathematical one.

rmaddock (ND): Will, A technical question. Occasionally when visiting BP.com, an archived page opens, often from the pre-pay days of BP. This is like finding hidden treasure or a reward. Does this happen to others? The most recent surprise was from March 31, 2002, and the lead article was predicted standings. My beloved Twins were predicted to finish second in the AL Central and win between 75 and 80 games. They ended up winning 96! If stumbling across archived pages isn't a planned idea, it should be.

Will Carroll: We jokingly call it the Wayback Machine and it is a bug, but a fun one. I'm not enough of a techie to give you a good explanation as to why it happens, but I agree. I wish we could have a button where you got a random day from the past.

I'd also love to have a better archive. There's some great, important writing in BP's past -- and in it's future.

GREGHACK (Lenexa, KS): At the times Pettitte says he took, and it is alleged Clemens took, HGH, was it illegal without a prescription? Was it banned by MLB? And if it was illegal or banned at the time, was there MLB testing for it?

Will Carroll: No, it was not illegal. There's some question about whether the 2004 use by Pettitte would have fallen under the changed drug control laws. It was not banned until 2005, largely because there was not and is not a scientifically valid test for hGH. It'd be like saying that there's a law against me thinking about Lindsay Lohan. You can't tell whether I am or am not unless I tell you. (I am, and I blame Nando Di Fino.)

"Illegal" and "banned" are two things most people don't understand are different.

mwanders (Moscow, ID): In planning a draft strategy is it wise to rank players based upon VORP?

Will Carroll: It's not the worst thing ever, but I'd recommend the use of PFM instead, which takes more things, including rules and context, into account.

Ok, for those of you asking about the MacBook Air, I'm currently doing this chat, converting HD video, seeing a Time Machine backup at work, and listening to iTunes. Love it.

Roger (Pasadena): As a fantasy player whose not adverse to some risk, what can I expect out of Liriano? What's the scoop? How did others with something similar come back?

Will Carroll: Tommy John return is about as predictable as it gets. Most will come back with little or no problem and perhaps a skosh more velocity and less control. A small percentage will see a secondary shoulder problem, like Randy Wolf did last season. These TEND to be minor. I'd expect Liriano to come back well, but I'm very concerned if he gets much above 150 innings.

Bryan (Maryland): Who do you like better this year: King Felix or Tim Lincecum?

Will Carroll: For fantasy stats? Hernandez (and can he please win something before we crown him? Kthanx.) He'll have more wins with a better team and similar stats if he stays healthy.

For longevity? Lincecum.

If you made me a GM and gave me a choice? Lincecum.

BeplerP (New York, NY): Love your UTK reports, indeed all your coverage, often the only reliable stuff because local reporters are generally hopeless on injuries. My question: Is there any such thing as a Second TJ? Many young pitchers (especially, I guess, if they spent college at Rice!) seem to have TJ automatically after signing their MLB deal. Does this mean they have a half-life, like a radioactive isotope? Or is there a limit to how far they can go, like a triple bypass is only supposed to be good for ten years? Are there any statistics collected on this? Thanks.

Will Carroll: There have been second and even third TJs. (Scott Williamson and Chad Fox are two triples that come to mind.) There's a five year "honeymoon" period where very few TJers have another elbow problem, but there is an increased incidence in shoulder injuries. If the mechanics are bad and not fixed, by fixing the previous weak link in the kinetic chain, something else is now going to be the weak link.

tycobb (ga): what are the chances that brian fuentes gets traded before the start of the season

Will Carroll: Pretty low, I'd say. The Rockies don't have any real needs and their bullpen is relatively strong. I think the Rockies will be competitive in the division, but that they think they're better than they are. I think their 2007 record is pretty indicative of their true talent level.

packerfan0042001 (tampa): so will, are you officially a rays fan since you are going to be at fan fest?

Will Carroll: I am a fan of good, smart baseball. I'll be at Rays FanFest as a sponsor and presenter, not as a fan. Honestly, I'm not a "fan" of any team. Since breaking up with the Cubs, I feel freer to watch more baseball and enjoy the game and the talent rather than being tied to a rooting interest.

That said, I sure like what the Rays are doing and they're one of my favorite teams to watch. Carl Crawford is without question my second favorite player in the game.

Analog Pete (CA): Can you go back to writing? I know videos are all Web 2.0 but I mostly check out BP at work where I have a slow connection and can't turn up the sound on video. Plus you have a disturbingly large and round head and the camera is way too close to your face. I don't see how looking at you talk makes more sense than reading your written words. If you insist on pretending you have a TV show, can you at least provide a transcript? Thanks!

Will Carroll: Several questions about the video, some about my head (7 3/8, thanks) and it's roundness. Most are about the change, which was much more noticeable over the winter, when there was less writing for me.

Video is about choice. Some like video, some like audio, and some like to read. BP's going to give you the choice. We're probably never going to be all one or the other. Take your pick. If you like one, great. If you like two, great. If you don't, change the channel.

David (Sonoma State University, CA): Why didn't the Mets trade the farm for Bedard instead of Santana?

Will Carroll: Simple answer? Santana is better.

More complete answer? Bedard is riskier, cost more in prospects, had more teams competing for his services (but still not many) and Santana is better.

jlebeck66 (WI): What's Nick Johnson's status? Is he healthy enough to reclaim Washington's firstbase duties? Thanks.

Will Carroll: He's looked healthy early, but it's still very early. I think he'll be fine in the same way it took a couple years for Jermaine Dye to get back to his previous level. Can he take back 1B from Dmitri Young? You'd sure think so, but the 1B/COF mix is an ... interesting one there in Washington. I'm not sure how it will play out or how it affects Johnson.

oira61 (San Francisco): Will: In your UTK column you mentioned that at the Satan Ray fanfest, you'll be the one with the pretty girls. Where and how do you get the girls?

Will Carroll: They're friends and they'll be helping me out at the BP table. We'll have giveaways and perhaps ... no confirmation on this ... copies of BP 2008 on hand.

Seriously, I don't do public appearances any more without pretty girls. It's in my contract.

http://www.myspace.com/usfbrittany if you want a preview.

Andy Depper (Bellingham, WA): I've heard about rehabbing pitchers going through their pitching motions while playing long toss. Wouldn't this affect their release point?

Will Carroll: GREAT question. Yes, it would and for me, changing the release point ruins the drill. It's hard to NOT change it, but in that case, I would never have my pitchers replicating their motion completely. They'd keep certain things the same, but long toss is about building arm strength. I'm still against the use of weighted balls, but that position is starting to weaken a bit. I'm a big, big fan of long toss.

lou ((CapeCod)): I just traded Liriano away from my Strat team because his lost season and mechanics making it likely that he'll be hurt again. Was I insane? ps Don't ask what I got for him cause you don't want to know.

Will Carroll: Depends entirely on what you got. I don't think it's completely insane.

Chris (Harrisonburg, VA): Hey Will, In your team health report for the Giants you had Cain as a "red risk" but did so begrudgingly. You noted that you've seen a parallel between Cain and Bonderman. Care to elaborate on that link? I didn't like the way the Giants handled Cain at times last year (he made 6 consecutive starts from May to June where he threw 110 pitches or more) and I'm afraid he might eventually get bit by the injury bug. Thanks for the knowledge!

Will Carroll: Age and usage. As much as both teams have handled their guys properly, we don't know enough about it. One team (and probably two) have a system where, using high speed motion capture, they can calculate the forces that the joints are subjecting the tendons and ligaments to on any given pitch. I'd KILL to have this data for more pitchers. I think right now, it's as close to the perfect system as we have.

mike (jersey): apparently, jack cust put on 26lbs of muscle during the offseason, that would seem very difficult over a 4 month span.

Will Carroll: *speechless*

Silv ((NY, NY)): A question about back injuries, specifically herniated discs. Being someone who had a microdiscectomy and laminectomy in mid 2007, I have NO idea how players like Joe Crede could possibly be thought to be close to 100%. Admittedly, I'm a 'weekend warrior' when it comes to athletics, but also am a known gym nut who concentrates on flexibility - almost nine months later and I still am super cognizant of the surgery. Thoughts?

Will Carroll: You don't have Herm Schneider working with you, a contract that relies on your health, or the athletic base (I'm guessing ... few do.) 100% is a high standard and I'm sure Crede is as cognizant of it as you are. Doesn't mean he can't play and play well, though he's certainly risky.

Joe (DC): Who's the best fbb writer on the net not at BP?

Will Carroll: There's a lot. I'd say Eric Karabell, but he's also a friend, so I'm biased. I'd say that anyone we have this month on "Fantasy February" is worth reading. Ron Shandler has to be pretty damn high on the list too.

twayda (Chicago): How is Chipper looking this season? He has been awfully good in his mid-thirties when hes been able to play.

Will Carroll: Haven't seen him yet.

I answer this question bc there's a lot of similar questions. I honestly haven't been checking in with sources yet except on specific cases. In the first week of training camp we get the "best shape of their careers" stories and the "Jack Cust put on 20 lbs of muscle" stories, plus the "damn, what did Josh Beckett eat this off-season, everything?" stories.

Chipper's risky and I think he'd be better off in some sort of platoon to reduce his playing time. (Not a R/L platoon, but something where he could just play 4 times a week.)

kernan (amherst, NY): true or false: The Red Sox used date from a high speed motion capture system in determining whether or not to shut down Clay Buchholz last year.

Will Carroll: True. It wasn't the only data, I'm told, but they do use it.

Tom (Revere, MA): PFM? Can you shed some light on this? Thanks Will. And your chat with faketeams.com site Eric Hz the other day was excellent.

Will Carroll: Pecota Fantasy Manager. It's on the Fantasy Page, as is the 2008 THR Matrix.

JKiersky (Memphis): What's the baseball equivalent to the Kidd to Mavs trade in terms of health and players being on the other side of their career still thinking they are superstars?

Will Carroll: You know, I don't have one. Anyone have an idea?

I post this just to say that there will be a Memphis Pizza Feed (likely sans pizza) in concert with the Civil Rights Game. More details soon.

mbeu79 (Chicago): What is the deal with Albert Pujols' elbow? What are his chances of making it through the season without needing surgery since he has been managing the injury since 2003.

Will Carroll: 99%? 90%?

He's been managing well. Funny thing about Pujols is that he's NEVER been healthy while in the majors and yet puts up sick numbers every year.

Scott (New Jersey): What will be the impact of Gallardo's knee injury? Will it be a blessing in disguise as it will decrease his annual workload?

Will Carroll: Blessing is a bit strong, but it will hold it down slightly, assuming the Brewers dont make it to the playoffs. I don't think it's a big deal in the grand scheme, but he's likely to miss the first month of the season or so as he rehabs. The Brewers have enough depth that they can be very slow and methodical with him.

mbeu79 (Chicago): Do you think Miguel Cabrera's weight will affect his performance in Detroit in the near future?

Will Carroll: No. Already hearing he's dropped weight and someone emailed me saying that he thought the veterans in Detroit would hold Cabrera more accountable for things like conditioning. What's the worst that happens, he becomes David Ortiz?

thegame92797 (Lynbrook, NY): Hey Will, With Annibal getting shut down, are we another setback away from him possibly missing the entire season? How does he compare to Mulder's rehab last season?

Will Carroll: Very good comp, thegame. I think we're closer to seeing Sanchez never playing again than most think. That's a BIG worry given how he was used by Joe Girardi, considering Joe's new charges.

Will Thompson (Fullerton, CA): Should I go for the steady production of a Matt Holliday or Chase Utley or the enormous upside with Ryan Braun, if I want to win this year? And for the next three years?

Will Carroll: I'd go in that order, but in three years, I'm not sure Braun isn't one of the top five hitters in the game.

JT (MKE): Is there any chance we see the Derrek Lee of 2005 ago with 40 HR's, or have age and wrist injuries sapped that power?

Will Carroll: I think it's possible, but not probable. I can't wait to see the PECOTA on him.

Evan (Vancouver, BC): Raul Ibanez is green? His age has made him no longer an adequate outfielder, and somehow he's not an injury risk despite being asked to play outfield everyday? Not even his knees? Come on, help me out, here.

Will Carroll: I know. Every year, there's a guy who's green, or red, and I go "huh?" Ibanez is one of them and I'll explain more when the Mariners THR comes out.

And as I pointed out in my Unfiltered today, the system's not perfect.

Joe (Washington, DC): Will: What's the single biggest mistake that Joe Girardi made in handling the Marlins' young pitchers...and something you'd watch for this year to see if he's changed his approach?

Will Carroll: Not to be flip, but overuse. Putting a guy back out after a long rain delay? Not noting age when figuring out how much to work a guy? Girardi, both as a bench coach and as a manager, hasn't proven he knows how to handle pitchers. He's certainly smart enough to adjust or to get a pitching coach that does it better than him.

David (Winston Salem): What are the odds that Pudge Rodriguez falls apart this year?

Will Carroll: Pretty low. Aside from the back injury that gave him enough of a scare to get really serious about conditioning and some small injuries that happen as an occupational hazard, he's been incredibly healthy for a long time. As with the other Pudge, I don't see any reason he'll have to stop before he wants to stop.

2,061 games as a catcher for Rodriguez. That's pretty impressive. Wow, he's going to catch Fisk's games caught record early next year. I hadn't realized that.

shamah (NYC): Does Hanley's shoulder surgery knock him from #1 overall spot in draft rankings? Who would you draft first overall?

Will Carroll: Alex Rodriguez #1 and I'd put Hanley #3 at his position, let alone overall.

John (Denver, CO): Quick, you have the third overall pick in your fantasy league...who do you take?

Will Carroll: Who went with the first two?

My board looks like: Alex Rodriguez, Jose Reyes, Albert Pujols, David Wright, Carl Crawford.

lmajersik ((Berkeley)): What's Steve Palazzolo up to these days? I have a friend of the same name so I've been interested in him ever since you mentioned he was a pupil of yours.

Will Carroll: He'll be reporting to Giants camp later this month after spending a year as El Guapo's set up man.

Bill (NYC): Will, could you try to clarify something? When you say a "low" yellow, what does that mean? Since there is nothing inherently high or low about colors, does a low yellow mean closer to red or closer to green? And I could be wrong, but I think in today's THR, Jay Jaffe literally uses the term "low [color]" to descibe exactly opposite phenomena: Claudio Vargas is a "low green" that could go to yellow, while Bill Hall is a "low yellow" that is closer to green. Colors have no direction! What are you guys talking about?

Will Carroll: Yep, that's a problem ...

The thing is that I see the numbers and percentages that underly the colors, which are essentially bands. To me, a "low" yellow would be at the low end of the spectrum, a smaller number that's almost to green. If I had a player that was a yellow at 35% (33% or lower is green), then I'd call him a "low" yellow.

I'll take the heat for not explaining this more clearly to you and to Jay, who was kind enough to do a couple THRs for me this year.

blaseta (Calgary, AB): I think anybody that follows your work would agree that you could add a lot of value to a team. Have you ever considered becoming part of a team (I'd be very surprised if you haven't had offers). Do you ever do consulting work for a team?

Will Carroll: I'm not sure I could add a lot of value, but I have done some consulting for teams on a formal and informal basis.

blaseta (Calgary, AB): I think anybody that follows your work would agree that you could add a lot of value to a team. Have you ever considered becoming part of a team (I'd be very surprised if you haven't had offers). Do you ever do consulting work for a team?

Will Carroll: I'm not sure I could add a lot of value, but I have done some consulting for teams on a formal and informal basis.

havybeaks (Michigan): Thinking about Anibal Sanchez and Joe Girardi... Has a player ever sued their team for negligence over an injury? Many employees have won lawsuits for heath issues caused by ergonomically-poor working environments. Do athletes have a leg to stand on (no pun here) or are they considered to be more like soldiers in battle?

Will Carroll: I don't think its ever been actually filed, but I know that one player in the past five years certainly considered it.

MDM (Glendale, MO): Will - tell me what to expect from B.J. Upton this year. Seems like he is knocking on the door of monster land. 40-40?

Will Carroll: I'm not sure if Brandon Phillips is on Upton's comparable list, but I think Upton has that kind of talent, if he applies himself.

mbeu79 (Chicago): If you had to choose between Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols for a 3 year keeper league, which one would you take?

Will Carroll: Cabrera on age, but it's very, very close.

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Is Pagliarulo legitimately the authority on Japanese MLB prospects?

Will Carroll: I'd suggest Mike Plugh or one of the scouts that MLB teams sends over. It was Craig Shipley, I believe, that did a lot of the work on Daisuke Matsuzaka and one of the Lee brothers who scouted Kosuke Fukudome.

havybeaks (Michigan): For your color ratings, why not simply report the numeric % and then make the font color green/yellow/red?

Will Carroll: 1) Its a hedge. When I started putting the system together back in 2002, I wasn't confident enough in the numbers and thought that bands would work better as well as allowing some margin of error.

2) The underlying actuarial tables are provided to me under an NDA and could possibly be reverse engineered if I gave out the numbers.

3) I like simple and three colors is simple, even though I'll hem and haw and give more details in the THRs.

CNB (San Francisco, CA): Hey, Will, thanks for the chat. As a (semi-)dedicated Peet's employee, I'm curious about your PED usag...I mean, coffee habit. How do you prepare it? Do you drink it black, or do you have to add cream and sugar? I think you mentioned before that you drink the Major, but have you tried any others, especially any reserve coffees (JR Reserve:Major :: Peyton Manning:Matt Hasselbeck)?

Will Carroll: This is actually a commonly asked question, so I'll go ahead and take it.

I get a recurring shipment of Peet's once a month. It rotates, but Major and the New Guinea are my favorites. I've had the Reserve a couple times -- the Blue Mountain and the Esmeralda -- and were wonderful, but pricy.

I drink my coffee black, a step below warm, and made in my Jura-Capresso Team Deluxe, which freshly grinds the beans, then drips it.

If we had Peet's or Jamba Juice in Indianapolis, I would be so unbelievably happy. I do also like Starbucks and you can often find me at the one in Greenwood.

Frank (NYC): Has there been any buzz around what Castro's stepping down could mean for baseball, amateur-scouting-wise? Where do you think Cuba would rank among Venez., DR and PR as a talent fountain?

Will Carroll: Darn good question. This is a better question for Clay Davenport, but I'd guess that his work that placed the Cuban leagues at about the Single-A level tells us something. I'd guess it has more to do with overall population and a country's commitment to a sport as to whether there's much to scout. I mean, why isn't Jamaica a hotbed of baseball like the Dominican? Why isn't Haiti, for that matter? Because the kids there don't play baseball.

brianjamesoak (Alameda, CA): Will, do pitchers experience control problems or any other lingering affects after Tommy John? Are players able to use and condition that arm while recovering? For example, can they lift weights?

Will Carroll: Some, especially control. New rehab techniques that were pioneered by Kevin Wilk and Mike Reinold (now of the Red Sox) really helped return proprioception to the arm more quickly and reduced rehab times. Pitchers do condition the arm quickly, but I don't remember exactly when they get back to "normal", though they do lift SMALL weights more quickly (weeks, not months) than most would imagine.

Brian H (Toledo): What is the status of Joel Zumaya's recover and rehab? What kind of conditioning has he been doing, what if any pitching?

Will Carroll: Zumaya might end up the Francisco Liriano of this year, with there being a question asked every chat.

The answer is we don't know. He's not throwing and until he does, there's just no telling. He is conditioning and there was a report that he'd dropped some weight and was very motivated to prove people wrong.

lmajersik (Berkeley): Any chance you could grade your past THR's for us one of these days? I'd like to know for previous years what percent of Red/Yellow/Green players actually spent time on the DL. That way I would know how much I can trust you!

Will Carroll: We've done that in two previous years and if you'll check Unfiltered, it was done for me this year. I was off on red hitters, but relatively happy with the rest. Always room for improvement.

Also, you should ALWAYS use the THRs as a data point, not a decider. If you're not making your own decisions, why are you playing the game? I go on a much bigger rant about this in the Rotowire Fantasy Guide, which should be on newsstands now or very soon.

Lightning round ...

Joe (Tewksbury, MA): Just looked at the THR matrix, Ellsbury a red? This troubles me. Should I wait for the article or can you spill a little now?

Will Carroll: Young, short track record, speedy. When so much value comes from one skill that's a muscle strain away from vanishing, how is t hat NOT risky?

Again, risky doesn't mean anything other than risky. Doesn't mean he's not very good or that I hate the Red Sox. Just means he's risky.

ericmilburn (San Francisco): Good reports for Rich Harden so far. Are you taking the over/under of 50ip for this (presumably) high red?

Will Carroll: I'll take the over.

Guilhem (Toronto): Martin or Vmart?

Will Carroll: I hate bad nicknames.

Martinez, because I'm worried about Martin's usage.

James (Lubbock, Texas): What are the odds of Josh Hamilton staying healthy all year and getting 550 or 600 at-bats for the Newberg Report faithful down here in Texas?

Will Carroll: It's very hard to project his health for so many reasons. I'd say he'd be better off in a platoon for a year to kind of build up to it.

Dave (California): Hi Will, Thanks for the chat. How likely is it that Cole Hamels stays healthy this year? How about Shawn Hill?

Will Carroll: Worried about both.

Brian Roberts (Baltimore): Am I getting traded or not?

Will Carroll: Not yet.

Will Carroll: Thanks for all the questions. Hope to see you at one of the upcoming events.

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