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Chat: Will Carroll

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


Will Carroll's Team Health Reports break down the risks each team and player faces heading into the 2008 season.

Will Carroll: Nothing wrong with starting early, right? I'm never going to challenge the Neyer/Simmons record, so ask what you want and I'll answer what fits. I'll start by saying I'm surprised by the lack of THR questions and feedback this year. Not sure if that means they're so good as to be unquestioned or so bad as to be ignored. My guess is that people use the Matrix much more than they read the reports, something I wouldn't advise. We'll see, so let's chat.

David (San Francisco, CA): Will, Do you think Rocco Baldelli will ever play another game in the MLB?

Will Carroll: David, I don't know doesn't begin to tell you how much I don't know about this. I'm not going to guess, but I will point you to today's BPR, where I discuss mitochondrial disease with the CEO of the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. Even he'll admit that he doesn't know. We just have to wish Rocco the best and apologize that we ever questioned his heart.
Joe Sheehan often talks about being able to back up all his work with facts and never trying to establish character through performance. I think this situation might end up being the example of that. For years, I've questioned Baldelli's ability to stay healthy, which said nothing about his work ethic or character, something many questioned.

Matt (Chicago): Will, Pecota and Normandin love Smoltz, but your THR makes me a little nervous. Should I make him my ace?

Will Carroll: Make him your pitcher, but be smart and have adequate backup. This points to one of the great misunderstandings of the THRs and measuring risk. There's no correlation between performance and risk. A guy can be great and risky or terrible and not risky. The intersection of the two, probably best shown by one of those graphs I don't know how to make, is simply whether a player will be likely to be able to use those talents. Smoltz is, like any pitcher with his age and history, risky. He's also still very good.

Beau Karch (Manhattan): Hi, Will. Really enjoying BP during the off-season. I've got two fantasy drafts on Sunday and am wondering how risky you think it will be to draft Albert Pujols in the first round. I suspect he'll drop to #10 in one of my leagues and I'm feeling lucky. What do you think?

Will Carroll: I've taken Pujols as high as #7 and would likely take him as high as #5 if I'd had a pick in that area. (I had a #3, where I took Crawford.) Pujols' elbow is no different than it was last year. The change in risk is that the team might be out of it at the break, forcing Pujols to make a decision on surgery for his foot and elbow. In the NL Central, I'll take that risk.

wilk75 (Houston): I'm sure I'm the 500th person to ask this, but what can we expect out of Lackey this year?

Will Carroll: So much for the green light, which goes to show that pitching itself is risky. I'm worried that the arm problem showed up so quickly and that rest hasn't yet cleared it up. If it is just a strained triceps, and there's no reason to think otherwise right now though the way the Angels have treated this is odd, then he should be back once the strain has healed and he's built up arm strength. That's May, most likely. I think he'll be fine, if he heals up and there's nothing more going on, but missing between five and eight starts isn't going to help him or the team.

Tommy (OPS,FL): The Rays keep telling us the Kazmir situation is more precautionary than anything. Do you Agree?

Will Carroll: Know your team. That's a mantra that makes even more sense when dealing with injuries. Like managers, ATCs have tendencies, strengths, weaknesses, and biases. The Rays tend to be ultraconservative, especially with their pitchers. I'll remind everyone that they have Jim Andrews, Koco Eaton, and Kevin Wilk on staff, as well as one of the best training staffs around.

Jay (Canada): Will, in a 5x5 mixed keeper: Peavy for Chipper & a 2nd player. How good would that 2nd player have to be for this to be fair? Would a Fukudome or Bay be good, or is that not enough/too much?

Will Carroll: Straight roto makes this one reasonable -- in reality, Chipper's probably more valuable on a one-year basis, something PECOTA agrees with. Jones = 55.1 with Peavy only slightly down at 50. Thing is, you're dealing in categories, where Peavy is very solid in three, maybe four and Chipper is a plus in two, maybe three. Assuming you had enough pitching to give up a Peavy and hold your category postions, I'd think you'd want to have a second player that amplified Jones' impact or take a lesser player that broadened it to, say, steals.

Overall, I'd keep Peavy.

Connor (Columbia, SC): I just recently started reading your columns this offseason, and I've seen you refer to a "nexus" at which pitchers are better able to tolerate heavy workloads. I was hoping that you might be able to elaborate on the age at which this nexus tends to occur and the reasoning behind why it does occur. Thanks.

Will Carroll: The injury nexus is actually based off the research of Nate Silver and was done for a 2003 ESPN article. It's age 24 and was proven to be a point where pitcher workload seem to have a lessened impact. As for the reasoning, I'll leave that to Nate to explain or someone better with Google than me to provide a link.

Mike (Chicago): Thanks for all the pownce updates! What would it take for Carlos Zambrano to not show up red on the THR? Fewer innings pitched, which ironically only probably happens with a minor injury?

Will Carroll: The irony is that he'd lose value if he was yellow. He'd have a slightly reduced workload. Honestly, the biggest thing he could do would be to change his age and past workload, but that's not possible. The biggest thing he could change would be his pitch efficiency. PIP and Peak PIP are two things I'm taking a much closer look at.

kernan (amherst): Hi Will - The A's and Red Sox trip to Japan got me thinking about the risk of long flights both in this case and during the season. Has anyone ever found any quantitative evidence that documents higher risk of injury after a cross country flight?

Will Carroll: Without going into detail, one team did a major study on this and found little or no effect. There was a slight effect at the extreme, but within the range that it looks like noise.

Neal (Joliet, IL): Eric Karabell alluded to BJ Ryan having elbow soreness that went beyond normal, but I actualyl hadn't heard that update until this morning. Is there anything to this? It seemed that BJ was probably pushing too hard for April 1 anyways and this might be his body telling him so.

Will Carroll: I've heard sore as well, but no one I've spoken to seems too concerned ... yet. We'll have to see if Ryan can get back out there and throw this week or whether this is a real setback. He's not going to be able to be a normal closer and therefore you have to discount his value and pair him with Jeremy Accardo.

scottziegler (Beaver Dam,WI): I believe John Lackey has had shoulder problems for the last 3 years in the spring. The innings pitced over the last four years made me question the green this season. I assume this is just normal wear and tear for pitchers?

Will Carroll: I completely and totally discount reports of "soreness" in spring training. It's too normal and too spuriously reported to be used as a precise tool. I wait for actual, addressable injury.

Dagmar (San Diego): How bad is our outfield? Is Barry Bonds any kind of solution?

Will Carroll: It's not bad, it's just exceptionally risky. There's enough depth that Edmonds and Giles should be rested regularly without too much of a dropoff, but it's not going to be a plus OF offensively or defensively. Bonds would be an improvement offensively (over Headley/Hairston), but not defensively and would only add to their risk. Is Bonds worth "Clemensing" -- letting him come in at the ASB? Maybe.

robyhood (Indianapolis): How concerned should we be over Braun's heel? I was estatic to see you online today as you were the one person I thought I could get a decent answer from.

Will Carroll: Sore but not a long term concern. To be precise, it's an Achilles problem. Not like his value is in his legs anyway.

Michael (Bloomington, IN): First off, nice, enlightening interview on mitochondrial disease -- I'm hoping Kevin Hench listens. In light of your comments on Smoltz, it seems obvious that Phil Hughes' red light makes him risky in your system, but how close to being great is he (at least in terms of fantasy production)?

Will Carroll: Thanks. Doing things like that is what I envisioned BPR would be seven years ago. Why ESPN or even XM can't find time for those is beyond me, though they're obviously doing ok in the ratings.

Hughes ... again, there's a big difference between performance and risk. He's obviously very good, but also risky as his workload increases. He showed last year that he may always be one pitch away from injury, which certainly adds to the caution that the Yankees need to have with him.

havybeaks (Michigan): Will, could you explain what a "cold laser" does? I know of an ultra-runner that used it for severe shin pain (probably a stress reaction), but you mentioned in Oakland's THR that the A's may be using cold lasers... how does it help baseball players?

Will Carroll: Best explanation I've gotten is that it's both a mild irritant and not unlike acupuncture in its effect. Most of what I know about cold laser is that it shows some very solid anti-inflammatory effects without the stomach irritation of oral medication.

tddewan (Torrance, CA): Will Pedro ever regain velo?

Will Carroll: Better question is does he need to? Velocity is just one tool a pitcher has. Pedro's working more off the other two (command and deception) these days, to solid results.

birkem3 (Dayton): Why aren't there any Reds' RPs in the THR matrix?

Will Carroll: Really? If so, oversight. Cordero at least should be there. Reds THR is actually scheduled to be up today. I'd assume it will be, though I have no control at all on timing.

Rob (Bloomington, IL): Rumor coming out of the Cubs camp is that Kerry Wood is unavailable today due to his back. Cause for concern?

Will Carroll: That's true (spasms) and while I wouldn't be too concerned as long as they're transient, it does point to the biggest issue he has, the ability to come back on back to back days. I have no idea at all why everyone seems so locked in on having one closer for the Cubs rather than using their relievers in the best way possible.

Mork (SF): what's you're take on MLB2K8 for wii? Dying for a great baseball game on that platform. Will Oliver Perez be consistent this year? What do you think of Randy's comeback so far? (johnson or wolfe)

Will Carroll: Don't have it.
Never has been.
Good but still worried.
Good but still worried.

Jeff (ardmore): Will the Red Sox players get all of their demands by doing this boycott or merely 99% of them? From what you're hearing, did MLB actually weasel out of something? And was it an expressly written promise or just an implied oral promise?

Will Carroll: I'm sorry, I don't understand why anyone cares about this issue at all.

Jake (Seattle): The Rays seem close to sending down Evan Longoria, among other reasons because he hasn't failed yet and faced that adversity. Is there something to this (it seems like we hear it every year) or is this just a cover for a service time decision? I mean, it's not like he's going to fail in AAA.

Will Carroll: Yeah, it's clearly avoiding the Super-2 designation, but that's a part of the game and a smart decision on the Rays part. The question is, is it worth the hit they'll take to production in the first month or so? Was Braun being down in April and most of May the reason the Brewers fell short last year? Maybe ...

Brandon (Boston): Which pitcher will be brought up from AAA first Kershaw, Price, Gio Gonzalez, or Cueto (if he spends anytime in the minors at all)?

Will Carroll: I'd guess Cueto will make the team and that Kershaw will be up in June or so. Gonzalez seems more the type that will come up in case of injury and Price is, I think, a September guy.

connollybp (Atlanta): Rich Harden? How many innings this year??

Will Carroll: I recently re-read an interview I did in 2006 on Athletics Nation where I said Rich Harden would make 35 starts. Oops.

I should learn to keep my mouth shut on things like that. He's looked solid this spring, so we have to hope.

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): PECOTA quibble - shouldn't we expect Ian Kennedy to throw more innings than Hughes this year, considering that he's logged more in the minors, is a bit older, has a clean health record, and is projected for a higher WARP with fewer innings? Thanks!

Will Carroll: PECOTA doesn't work that way. Take it up with Nate, not me.

Mike (NYC): I drafted Andy LaRoche late in an NL only league only to find out his hand is in a caste. What kind of season can we expect of him?

Will Carroll: Not much. The Dodgers won't have him back until late May at best and by then, they'll likely have someone new blocking him. I don't understand this organization, other than the concept that we can't get a solid read on who the real decision maker is on any given decision.

Wilson (DC): Hanley, David Wright, or A-Rod with the 2nd overall pick tonight (1st overall will be Jose Reyes; don't ask).

Will Carroll: Rodriguez. I'd take Hanley if I didn't have questions about his shoulder. It surprises me that people are willing to completely overlook his surgery while panicking over Pujols' elbow. Yes, Ramirez has looked solid this spring, so my concern could be over nothing, but it's still there.

mccauleysd (Indy): LOVED Carmona last season, but I'm ready for an injury in '08...why would he NOT be injured this season? Will Grady ever cut back on his strikeouts? Great chat Will

Will Carroll: Smart management, solid maintenance, good conditioning, and decent mechanics. He's so gangly that I have a hard time getting a real visual handle on some of the things he's doing, but getting to see him during the playoffs when he was clearly gassed showed me that he was consistent and that's one really big thing, especially for a young pitcher.

As for Grady, no, PECOTA seems to think he's going to be consistently at that level through 2014 (watch the rate, not the number.)

Rob (Bloomington, IL): I have Jay Bruce and Evan Longoria on my team right now. Right now, I have Longoria penciled in as my 3B... but if he's sent down, I need to grab another 3B off the waiver wire. Seeing as how I can only stash one of the two players on my bench, which one should I drop?

Will Carroll: Someone else.

Lucas (NYC): How much should the fact that Hunter Pence and Ryan Zimmerman are recovering from wrist injuries (which sap power for a year) effect us drafting them?

Will Carroll: Somewhat. Neither is really a big power guy. I think Zimmerman's power drop will be disguised by the new park. Both are more line drive guys who will see a few more K's, few less homers.

Greg (Toronto): In the case of torn labrums (like the one Cassey Janssen has), how much better is it to have the tear at the front of the labrum than at the back?

Will Carroll: Not much. A SLAP tear is the most common, so there's more experience with the repair. That's about the best you can say.

Tommy (OPS, FL): Who are your final four teams?

Will Carroll: Pretty chalk ... Kansas, UCLA, Memphis, and UNC. I'll guarantee one of those is wrong. I have UCLA in the final (losing to Kansas) but they have two really tough games to get there against A&M and Drake on my sheet. My surprising team is Xavier.

pgjuetten (Germany): Just curious about your thoughts on Matt Capps or Joakim Soria as picks in fantasy baseball, particularly as they may compare to closers on better teams? They seem to have all the peripheral stats, but are on going to be on bad teams. PS - I've been stationed overseas for 3 years, and the day I get the new BP in the mail is always one of my favorits. Thanks!

Will Carroll: I'd rather have a solid closer on a good team than a solid closer on a bad team, so I'd take Borowski over those two.

LouisB (Milwuakee): Better keeper for the next 3 years, Tulo or Longoria?

Will Carroll: Probably Tulowitzki, just on the position/defense. Close and that's off the top of my head.

grainyduck (Buffalo): I know you have Felix rated as 'red' for this year, but what are your personal thoughts? Do you think he'll be able to throw 200 innings? And if so, will be finally become one of the games preeminent pitchers?

Will Carroll: 200 is a pretty high bar. 180? I'd guess he'll miss a couple starts here and there since the M's seem a bit paranoid with him (rightly so.)

Pre-eminent? Maybe. He's certainly talented enough to do it.

grainyduck (Buffalo): I know you have Felix rated as 'red' for this year, but what are your personal thoughts? Do you think he'll be able to throw 200 innings? And if so, will be finally become one of the games preeminent pitchers?

Will Carroll: 200 is a pretty high bar. 180? I'd guess he'll miss a couple starts here and there since the M's seem a bit paranoid with him (rightly so.)

Pre-eminent? Maybe. He's certainly talented enough to do it.

Erik H (OPS): Is any woman worth $4k a night Will?

Will Carroll: Yes.

StBonaAlum (Albany, NY): Can the case be made to draft Chase Utley in the top four of a keeper league draft? While ARod, Wright, Reyes, Hanley, Pujols, and Santana are available. It seems every good 2B is being kept.

Will Carroll: You just made the case. 2B is already among the scarcest position, but at that stage, take a look at how much of a drop in production you're really taking. I'd guess the algebra isn't going to give you the expected answer.

havybeaks (Michigan): What is one of the most impressive injury recoveries you've seen in recent years? Personally I was amazed that Ken Griffey Jr. could detach the hamstring tendon from the bone and still play outfield the next year. Thanks for a great chat!

Will Carroll: Brian Roberts without a doubt. Slight edge over Jason Kendall.

uptick (st. louis): Is Cueto in the same league, potential-wise, as Kershaw and Price?

Will Carroll: No. Couple notches down, but still quite good.

Will Carroll: Thanks for all the questions. Sorry I couldn't get to them all, though that's an unrealistic expectation. Thanks to everyone for reading, here and otherwise. You don't know how much I appreciate the support.

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