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Chat: Will Carroll

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday June 18, 2008 1:00 PM ET chat session with Will Carroll.


Will Carroll tells you who's hurt and what it means in "Under the Knife."

Will Carroll: So, I've got a pot of Peet's going and I'm actually sitting out back on my patio with an Illusione 888. Life. Is. Good. I can only hope things are as well for you, but I'm sure we'll have plenty of time in the next hour or so to talk about the guys and teams that aren't so happy. I just want to again thank you for reading and giving me the opportunity to be *your* medical staff. Let's get to it:

SC (Philadelphia): Not baseball-related, but how impressive is Tiger's win yesterday now that we know he needs additional surgery?

Will Carroll: I hate to start with a non-baseball question, but this bears discussing after I did an Unfiltered post on Tiger. The knee symptoms just didn't match up and with this new information, it is impressive. The scope job basically just allowed him to play, waiting to handle the much more serious surgery later. The ACL isn't a big deal - he's been playing with it for a while. It's the "double stress fracture" that was likely the cause of the pain and points to serious, serious long term concerns. The report that Rocco Mediate heard grinding tells you just how serious the problem is/was. Without cartilage that I'm assuming was removed in 2002 and with articular cartilage damage as well as structural problems, Woods is a likely candidate for a knee replacement down the line. The concern over the next decade is that the knee will continue to cause problems, continue to need care, and hold him back from history. I think Woods' response will be to revamp his swing to take stress off the knee.
Yes, this is a very similar situation to what Philip Rivers played with and yes, I think this makes his US Open win even more special, as if it needed it. That may have been one of the most amazing sporting events I've ever seen.

James (Herndon, VA): Is there anything wrong with Webb? He got killed last night and pulled after 58 pitches the start before.

Will Carroll: I'm worried a bit about reports he's going through a dead arm period, but no more so than I would be with any pitcher. Webb has handled a heavy workload and if the biggest issue is a dead arm, that's not so bad. It wasn't too long ago we were discussing 25 wins for Webb and this shows just how tough getting to that milestone in this pitching environment is going to be. Of course, the answer is changing the environment.

Jay (Madison): My fantasy baseball competitor is offering an even money bet that Rich Harden will land on the DL at some point during the rest of the season (i'd be betting no DL). Should I take the bet?

Will Carroll: Take it. Harden's pitching very well and looking good, but ANY pitcher is about a 45% chance to go on the DL in any given season. Harden's more risky than average and while I didn't do any math on this, It's a bet I would take. I hope you lose though.

J Huss (Orlando): Hey Will. Something more up your alley besides what we've been chatting about. With Dice K having some issues...how much is attributable to usage over in Japan? High pitch counts + Japan usage = arm of a 30 year old instead of a 27 year old?

Will Carroll: Good question and while I don't know, I think the Sox do. They did extensive tests both before and after signing him, so I don't think they'd have gone six years without thinking he'd hold up. I'm more interested in whether the changes to his routine and style had a more detrimental effect than we know. Yes, it's possible to believe in pitch counts and that pitchers are being underworked.

Or (Dallas): Rangers fandom holds its collective breath for Milton 'Yahtzee!' Bradley's well-being. Should I break out the tissues, or is there cause for a synchronized sigh of relief?

Will Carroll: Should be ok. The quad "grabs" on him every once in a while, but Bradley plays in pain pretty well. My worry is that he pushes it too much. Ron Washington and Jamie Reed do a pretty good job of holding him in check.

chuckstein17 (Long Beach, NY): Will, I think Santana's pitched pretty well, but his lost velocity is pretty noticeable. Have you seen anything that could explain this? Or was it that I only used to see him on the juiced up Fox and ESPN guns?

Will Carroll: According to PFX via Josh Kalk's great site ... Santana is at 92.2 this year vs 92.7 last year. I dont think that's a big deal at all, do you?Someone, I think at Hardball Times, did a great article on location being more important than velocity and I agree.

pmuehlenkamp (Cincinnati): Does Corey Patterson have secret photos of Dusty Baker? How can you explain the addition Baker has to Patterson and how many games do you think Patterson has cost the Reds?

Will Carroll: Dusty believes his eyes. If you watch Corey Patterson for a short period of time, you're going to see him do things well. He's fast, strong and just "looks like a player." Except his results suck. I think Baker -- and a lot of other people -- believe what they see over the longer term results and that they refuse to believe that they could be so wrong. We saw the same thing with Baker and Neifi Perez. Just when Perez would be not hitting his way out of a job, he'd get one hit or make one great play in the field and that's what Baker would fixate on.

Tommy (OPS,FL): What's the latest on Carl Crawford? He comes back tonight after his Boston Brawl suspension. Is it just a rest issue with him?

Will Carroll: I think the suspension will actually help Crawford by forcing some rest and getting his "legs under him." I'm also hopeful that he's more selective about stealing and that the logjam at DH would get shaken up a bit so that CC could DH once a homestand or so, just to get him off the turf.

joshkalk (PITCHf/x land): Will, What future do you see, if any, in using the PITCHf/x data to help identifying slightly injured pitchers or pitchers who are injury risks? Any their any studies that you would like to see done with the data that isn't currently being looked at?

Will Carroll: If this is Josh, thank you for your work. As for studies, I don't know. I wish we had some way of getting an alert when a release point made a significant change or there was more work being done pairing PFX to video so that we could have even MORE info. Imagine overlaying the Gameday app over behind-catcher video. We're just at the beginning of what we'll be able to learn from PFX. I also think HFX is going to solve the defensive stat problem.

Richie (Washington): Furcal? Any news at all?

Will Carroll: Nothing concrete and I'm sorry. Nomar's playing SS in Vegas, which should tell you something.

Chris (Chicago): Will, nobody talks about White Sox Pitching Coach Don Cooper, but he has done a great job the past few years getting value out of certain guys. Where does he rate as a pitching coach?

Will Carroll: He's had a couple good years, a couple bad years, so I don't think we have a real handle on him. We don't have a good handle on coaching. Mazzone and Peterson were by acclimation the two best pitching coaches in the game, but today they're both unemployed. Simply put, we have almost no idea what effect coaches have. If I can rephrase your question for you and you asked "Would Don Cooper be on a list of pitching coaches you'd interview if you were hiring?" the answer would be yes. Not at the top, but on the list.

And J.K. -- email me, please.

ChrisLDuncan (Parts Unknown): What do you see in the future of CC Sabathia?

Will Carroll: A large contract to match his large waist. Ok, that's the easy part. I think he'll pitch very well for the remainder of the season, just below the level of last season, with occasional bad starts and some fatigue at the end of the year, esp if the Indians get to the post-season. Right now, I just don't see him being traded, but that could change. As much as I like Sabathia, there's NO WAY I would give him more than a three-year deal with an option on the fourth. If Legacy wants to get really creative, there's a way you'd get me to five, but that's not going to happen and you wouldn't want me negotiating deals anyway.

avschwarm (London, UK): After the good news about Carpenter today, what should Cardinals fans hope for from him this season?

Will Carroll: Same as before -- a comeback that should work out well. Instead of coming in July, it should come later ... first of August rather than the All Star break? Sounds about right, though I worry whatever caused this flareup could come back.

Parker (St. Louis): Will, What's the latest on Pujols' return? I read he was taking grounders yesterday which is a good sign. Is this guy one of the fiercest competitors, or what!? You think there is any chance he is back when his 15 days are up?

Will Carroll: I'll stick with my 20 day estimate. He is insanely competitive and focused. I think he and Tiger Woods would get along well. Know what's amazing? The more I watch the Cardinals, the more I think Pujols might be underrated.

Cal (Cambellsville, OH): Will, Red Sox nation patiently awaits Big Papi's return. He's now wearing the splint and beginning range of motion exercises. Are we looking at a couple more weeks, or longer? Ideally, we'd like to see him ready for the Yankees that first long weekend in JUly.

Will Carroll: I think a bit longer. All Star break? A bit before? Really too early to tell just yet, but I dont think it goes much beyond that.

johnpark99 (Boston): Will, how would you recommend a club handle a high school pitcher, drafted in 2008, for the rest of this year? I know there shouldn't be hard and fast rules on pitch/innings counts, but generally speaking, what is the range of number of innings that would be appropriate for an 18/19-year-old without blatantly risking his future?

Will Carroll: It's so individual as to almost be impossible to state. Is he big? How's he been worked previous? How are his mechanics now? Does he have secondary pitches? I would keep his counts very low, but get him experience pitching -- a four man tandem with counts as low as fifty might be my start. I did an article on developing pitchers last year and the more I work on that model, the more I think it would work.

MikeJordan23 (Minnesota): Mark Mulder is pitching in Memphis thursday, and could be back on the official roster by Tuesday. Last start he was touching 91 on the gun. What should Cards fans expect when he gets back?

Will Carroll: Upside? League average pitcher that can give the team some innings at a time they really need them.

ekanenh (exeter): Has Schilling's clock struck midnight?

Will Carroll: Not yet. 11:55 by my watch.

Matt (Brookline, MA): I know this is another non-baseball question, but there was a lot of talk during the NBA Finals that Paul Pierce was refusing to take an MRI on his knee because he didn't want to have anyone tell him he couldn't/shouldn't be playing. Have you heard anything to validate this, and secondly, how serious is the damage Pierce could do by playing through it?

Will Carroll: I heard this and it has merit. Actually I heard it the other way, that the team didn't want him to know how bad it was and that once the medical staff had determined that he couldn't cause significant damage by playing, there was no use to have an MRI. Trainers can do a LOT with manual testing.

dianagramr (NYC): Hey Will ... for your big birthday party, will there be cake? Will Jenn be dropping by? Back to baseball for a moment ... in terms of safety and the use of aluminum bats in college, are the baseballs used in NCAA games any different (in terms of "responsiveness") than those in the Majors? Perhaps a slightly "deadened" ball would counteract the use of aluminum bats a bit, and give the pitchers a split second more reaction time?

Will Carroll: Beer is like cake, just liquid. Jenn MAY drop by. Her schedule is in a bit of flux with her modeling and TV work. Will Leitch is hoping to make it and I know a couple local writers are also saying they'll do everything they can. Add in what could be a big crew of BPers and MLB.com-ers and it will be a good time.
On the balls, no idea. Seems like it would make sense.

JoshEngleman (Tamaqua, PA): Will, I really need an answer here. My friend and I are having an argument over who would be the Cy Young winner in the NL if the season ended today. We bet a Yoo-hoo on it. Who do you think it would be?

Will Carroll: If it's me voting, I'd probably go with Tim Lincecum. If you're asking who would win the voting? I'd guess Brandon Webb on wins for a winning team with Carlos Zambrano a close second.

Chris (Harrisonburg, VA): Hi Will, love the chats, thanks! I've always wondered how much coaches can really help or hurt a player. Take for example Barry Zito and the rumor that the Giants could bring in Rick Peterson as a special assistant to work with Zito. At the end of the day, if Zito can't physically control his pitches or pitch with his old velocity, how much mechanical tinkering is really going to help him? I guess my long winded question boils down to: Can mechanics be fixed or is it something more akin to a progression of a players skills.

Will Carroll: Good question. The answer is I don't know and neither to the Giants. If Peterson's available (which it would seem he is) and Zito thought it would help, I can't imagine why I wouldn't at least try it. Send Zito to Jersey for a couple weeks and see what happens.

shamah (NYC): Have you ever looked at injury issues in other sports? I'm thinking in particular of ice hockey: to go through what NHL players go through--punishment that seems to almost border on NFL levels--with such frequency--three or four times a week--just seems crazy to me. Especially since the season is endless. How do they do it? Is there a serious painkiller addiction problem in the NHL? Or is it just something you get used to after playing the sport for so long?

Will Carroll: I do football and have for a couple years. I'll be branching into College Football this season (and more on that soon ...) I'd KILL to do hockey because I grew up around the sport. Most sports have a painkiller problem. Not to sound like an ad, but my essay in Pro Football Prospectus is on painkillers. I think it's worth reading and could be as big a problem as the concussions I wrote about last year.

Jason (D.C.): Every season seems like it's the worst in terms of injuries than all those previous, but it can't be true. Is there one season you remember that was "the worst"?

Will Carroll: Depends on how you define it. We're always going to perceive things if they happen to big names, guys on your team, or in noticeable ways. Wang's injury is no different than Brian Bruney's, but he's more well known and it happened in a manner that could be shown over and over on SportsCenter. Having 150 guys on the DL is bad, but some of those are guys out for the year who we KNEW woudl be out for the year. Its also less than last year. We should be focused on reducing and preventing injuries where possible. It's a big picture thing that I THINK we're at the zenith (or is it nadir?) ... I think we'll see this period in history as the turning point, where we really started to take injuries seriously.

Erik (OPS,FL): Who do you think should start the All Star game for the AL? I think it should be Kazmir. You better not say Mussina...

Will Carroll: Francona picking for a game played in Yankee? I don't think you can say Jon Lester, though that would be my pick. Mussina? Hell, it's an exhibition. Why not?

Bill W (Brooklyn NY): So if Minaya survives til next year, have we seen the last of his signings of fragile 42-year-old outfielders at $7.5 M per? Is this a deep Mets' organizational problem that a new GM who has roster-construction skills won't solve? Also, convince me I should come to the NYC Feed a few hours after moving to a new apartment.

Will Carroll: I thought it was a reasonable gamble and the money is a red herring -- it didn't stop them from signing anyone else. If it doesn't work, well, it's a data point, but no more than any other. As for the Feed, man, if the idea of talking baseball with this group doesn't get you across the bridge and/or tunnel, nothing will.

David (AH, NJ): Any word on Jose Reyes? Left the game (reluctantly) with a tight hammy.

Will Carroll: Scheduled to play tonight. Tightened up, removed as a precaution. Man, why am I doing a chat on my "off day."

glenihan (nyc): Only, unfortunately, the All-Star game isn't truly an exhibition, thanks to TV execs, as it determines home field advantage for the WS

Will Carroll: And how often has that come into play? Does Mussina starting the game and Kazmir or Lester (or anyone) pitching second or third really change anything? I'm sure anyone wants the honor of starting, but I dont think it makes any difference to the win.

Chris (Harrisonburg, VA): A question about oblique injuries. How tricky are they to rehab? It seems like it's an injury that's been happening to pitchers more over the past few years and the rehab time seems to really vary from guy to guy.

Will Carroll: It's more a matter of degree and resting. Guys have a tendency to aggravate the injury by coming back to soon, doing it when it doesn't hurt rather than when it's been given the time and rest to heal.

uptick (st. louis): I see where Keppinger is only playing DH at this point...do you have any idea when he'll be ready to play SS for the Reds again? thx,

Will Carroll: Still DHing. I'd been told that he would switch to SS this week, but it looks as if something's change. I think they're going off his lead. When he's pain free, he'll be in the field and I dont think it will be long after that when he's back up. I'm less sure that he'll be at SS then.

dianagramr (NYC): Since its your "off day", let's talk about things other than sports ... What's on your mp3/cd player lately? What movie are you dying to see? How do you think Season 7 of "The Shield" will play out?

Will Carroll: In heavy rotation now: new Coldplay, Back Door Slam, new Fratellis, Hammock, and Duffy.
Just saw Iron Man which was better than I expected. I'm very, very excited for "The Dark Knight."
"The Shield" will do things in unexpected ways, but I don't think things will end well for Shane. I think the wives will play integral roles and that Claudette comes out the best of the bunch.

David (NJ): Any thoughts on the Mets new pitching coach, Dan Warthen? Should Mets fans be concerned?

Will Carroll: I'll be honest here -- I know nothing about Warthen aside from his being the Triple-A coach. I think the Mets just hope a "new voice" will help. This isn't the most coaching intensive group anyway. The one guy I do worry about is Ollie Perez, but I'd bet Pedro Martinez does more for him than any coach anyway.

Evan (Vancouver, BC): Is the main problem with studying injuries in hockey the secrecy? Since teams can derive an advantage from knowing the specifics of their opponents' health, injury information is kept remarkably vague (upper/lower body injury).

Will Carroll: No, behind the scenes teams share info. The team docs actually do a great job up there. I think if someone wanted to do what I do with hockey, they could. I imagine Don Cherry could call up the right people and get the goods.

collins (greenville nc): So what's Dick Martin doing these days? Enjoying his retirement?

Will Carroll: Yes, last I heard, he was enjoying the Florida sun and not missing the 20 hour days of baseball. The Twins miss him more than he misses them. You know what's too bad? No trainers or doctors in the Hall of Fame.

Steve (Chicago): There's a story on ESPN about soriano getting re-examined and being hopeful to return sooner than expected. Just typical player optimism, or something to it?

Will Carroll: If you could pick a bone to break, that's the one. I said initially that I thought he could come back without much problem. I'll let it play out before I buy into the sooner than expected.

Jack (SD): Are you as happy as I am that the NBA season is over so the Worldwide Leader will stop shoving it down our throats and maybe, just maybe, we can get a little baseball coverage?

Will Carroll: I watched a grand total of zero minutes of the NBA this year, which matches my minutes of SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight. I get my baseball on MLB.tv, almost exclusively these days.

Will Carroll: That's it for me today. Sorry I couldnt go longer, but I'm sure I'll be back soon and you can always email me. Thanks for all the questions.

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