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Chat: Will Carroll

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday August 27, 2008 1:00 PM ET chat session with Will Carroll.


Will Carroll stops by to talk about the impact of injuries on the pennant races...and your fantasy football drafts.

Will Carroll: No opening statement, your honor ... powered by you, let's chat.

Larry (Cincy): Will Dusty get the blame Cueto's injury?

Will Carroll: Will he? Probably not. He's good at dodging blame. Should he? I think he has to get some of it, but it's never all the manager. But some.

jay (madison): Does Joba's recent issues make you feel that he is more or less inclined to be a starting pitcher next April?

Will Carroll: The minor shoulder problem doesn't change my judgement at all. He hit "the wall" to use the running term and had a minor, muscular setback that can largely be put on fatigue, not mechanics or overuse. I think Chamberlain and Wang will be a solid 2-3 for the Yankees next year.

Jay (Madison): Is Adam Jones's foot problem the kind of problem that is likely to reaccur?

Will Carroll: No. Fractures heal and with new techniques and medications, they heal faster and better. The first year I did UTK, there was a lot of talk about Mark Mulder trying to come back from a fractured hip by using a drug meant for osteoporosis. We never got a chance to see if it worked, but there's better now.

Distraught Cub Nation (Global): Argh ... Zambrano ... sky is falling ... August? ... etc.

Will Carroll: After the Bartman game in 2003, I went back to Wrigley for Game 7 of the NLCS. As I walked in, I noticed that the fans looked like they were walking to the gallows, not a ballgame. They expected to lose and were waiting to see just how the Cubs would do it this time. There's still a lot of that and I had a discussion the other day with Dan Dakich about whether that affected the players. I don't think it does, but thinking back to that day and the psychic energy, it might.

Amos (New York): If "Hate to Say I Told You So" is your theme song with Cueto, does Dusty Baker get "Main Offender"? Does Jay Bruce get "Walk Idiot Walk"? Can the Reds just hire The Hives with their savings on Dunn and Griffey?

Will Carroll: That might be the best question I've ever had in a chat. Give this man a prize. We'll see if the Reds fans give this team a chance to "Try It Again" next year!

Vince (New Hampshire): Will, Football question here. Osi Umenyiora went down for the season with a torn meniscus (a cartilage tear). Players with knee ligament tears tend to come back the next season but it seems to take them another year to get back close to full strength. Will it be any easier for Osi to come back from a cartilage tear (vs a ligament tear)or could his performance suffer next season?

Will Carroll: Should be easier. He's having the meniscus repaired, not removed, so there's a longer period of healing but once it's healed, it should actually be "more normal" or closer to normal. I think he comes back at 100% on day one ... of 2009.

theguag (Louisville): Scoresheet Fant Q: Got Tulowitzki, Aviles, and Y. Escobar on roster - who do you put in as the playoff SS

Will Carroll: How does Aviles have a card? I think Tulo, if it's based on last year. I remember him being a 1 or 2 on defense and that's big.

Distraught Cub Nation (Global): We were less expecting an injury diagnosis on our collective psyche, and more a report on what to expect from Big Z going forward. Thanks, I guess, in both cases.

Will Carroll: Oh that ... Zambrano is back in the dropped elbow arm slot that he was just after his DL stint, but it slowly came up. The worst I saw it was in the ASG. He's slinging it -- some see it as pushing -- and while he can get good velocity, he loses control and movement. The question is why is the slot dropping - pain? weakness? lack of focus? The team has a month to figure it out and make sure it doesn't get worse. Without Zambrano starting Game 1 of any series, the Cubs are in trouble.

Matt (Chicago): In his ultimate fantasy draft article, Nate wrote of Pujols: "The tiebreaker used against him was the fact of the high-grade ligament tear in his elbow, which Pujols opted not to have surgery on before the season. There is perhaps a 50:50 chance that the ligament will blow out at some point over the course of the next several seasons, which would require Pujols to undergo Tommy John surgery and miss at least a full season." Just curious as to (a) where that 50:50 number comes from, and (b) whether a position player (and in particular a first baseman) would require the same recovery time (a full season, give or take) as a pitcher.

Will Carroll: I think 50/50 is about right. He's had it for ... four years? Thing is, it was probably 50/50 that whole time, so is it like rolling the dice every season or a bit more wear? Is it scarring up? The full season number is a bit off, though it depends on when it happens. If Pujols went to get it done today, he'd be ready for Opening Day. If he did it on Opening Day, he'd miss the season. We've had several players have TJ and they tend to come back quickly. There was a Dback who did it in four months and I'm blanking on his name. Not Luis Gonzalez, but he came back well.

With Pujols, the elbow worries me less than his feet do. Plantar fasciitis is no joke and surgery to fix that would cost him a lot more time.

dianagramr (NYC): Hiya Will .... how about a golf question! What's your educated guess on how Tiger will recover from his knee surgery? Have we seen the best of him, and everything from here on in will be Tiger at diminished capacity (80% .... 70%)?

Will Carroll: Good question. There's never been a knee injury like this on a high level golfer, but there's a couple things we can use to make a better guess. First, many golfers, mostly older, have had extensive knee surgery or even joint replacement. They tend to come back fine, though I'd be interested to see whether their driving distance was the same. Woods is in amazing condition for any athlete, not just a golfer, and has more of a margin of error to work with -- if he comes back at 90%, that's 200% of most Tour golfers. He'll break - no, shatter - Nicklaus' majors record.

jklein (TP): Rich Harden, Ryan Dempster, and Ted Lilly all disagree that the Cubs are in trouble if Zambrano isn't pitching Game 1.

Will Carroll: That Harden trade just looks brilliant right now, doesn't it? But does that rotation really scare opposing hitters? Harden can be lights out, Dempster's going to get Cy votes, and Lilly's a good lefty, but it's not Webb-Haren-Johnson. It's not Shields-Garza-Kazmir, at least for dominance. It's not Beckett-Lester-Matsuzaka. It's not Sabathia-Sheets-whoever.

Nolan Ryan (Arlington, TX): Am I going to fire Jon Daniels and/or Ron Washington this offseason?

Will Carroll: You'd be an idiot to do that and you're not an idiot.

Tom (Virginia): What did you think of Governor Warner's speech?

Will Carroll: I was a bit underwhelmed. The DNC has been a bit of a hodge-podge for me at a time they really needed to be on message. If you're hoping that Obama has a counter-punch, it's about time to see whether he's got a real punch or just a jab.

frank (boise): Will, what is going on with Manning's knee? There had been reports of multiple knee surgeries and all of the sudden Indianapolis is talking about him potentially being ready to play on Sunday. This is getting more and more reminiscent of what happened with Harrison last year, and I'm wondering if I should just take a pass and look elsewhere for a QB.

Will Carroll: He looked "good, mobile" in practice according to a source of mine that was there. Manning is, right now, the Pujols of the draft. I'm winning a league because Pujols fell to me at 7 because people were worried about his elbow and ... yeah, you see the result. I drafted Manning in my Facebook Experts Draft yesterday at #11 then backed him up with Brett Favre on the thought that if Manning misses time, it will be in Weeks 1 and 2, when Favre will be the freshest.

Sully (Los Angeles, CA): How likely is it that Shawn Merriman's past steroid usage played a role in his subsequent knee injury?

Will Carroll: Very little, I'd think, unless you buy that it made him a bit stronger and faster and allowed him to do things that overtaxed his knee. That's possible, but no idea how you'd isolate that.

Tommy (OPS,FL): James Shields recently said he was a little tired. In his last 4 starts his era is 4.4. Should the Rays be worried about their pitchers "hitting the wall" down the stretch?

Will Carroll: Concerned? Yes. Worried? No. I had this thought yesterday about how to bring David Price up. Why not give him one start as a bit of a chest-thumper and to quietly and easily buy everyone in the rotation an extra day's rest? Maybe we can bring this up on Friday.

Sully (Los Angeles, CA): What have you heard about Jeff Saturday's injury?

Will Carroll: Now THIS one worries me more for Manning than his own knee. Saturday appears to have an MCL sprain, according to our friend Brad Wochomurka. The Colts drafted Mike Pollak, the first C in the draft, but he's no Saturday. Saturday is underrated even as a Pro Bowler and his contributions are key. That said, Ron Jaworski said a couple years ago that Manning made the line look good, not the other way around. This might be the biggest test.

Wendy (Madrid): I'm a Republican who is very aware of the problems Bush has given my party. Still when I watch the DNC, I laugh. They're all talk. Democrats are their own worst enemy. If they could ever get their stuff together, they could blow this election away, but I'm quite confident that McCain will win because the Dems have no game.

Will Carroll: Fairness doctrine.

Yeah, I can't disagree with you Wendy. Ok, no more politics. That's Nate's game, not mine.

Tim (Portland): What happens when a 19 or 20 year old prospect loses a season of development to injury? Does it mean his ceiling is, say 80-90 percent of what it used to be? Or just that his likelihood of reaching his ceiling is lower?

Will Carroll: Great question. You know, I have no idea, but it seems like one that could be studied. CK, we still looking for a back of the book essay for BP09?

chancat74 (Longwood, FL): Has anything noticeable been changed with Liriano's mechanics or does he still look like the same kind of injury risk he was before?

Will Carroll: Looks roughly the same to me, but Brad is about to interview Stu Cliburn for BPR. He's the pitching coach for the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings and the "secret weapon" of the Twins system. FOTs all over credit him for a lot of the development in their system and point to him as someone who should be in the majors.

dianagramr (NYC): I know bone spurs can form in elbows. How does one form in the shoulder? Having Maine rest isn't going to cure the problem, right?

Will Carroll: Same way as anywhere. A bone spur is like a blister, in a way. It gets rubbed, sheared, irritated, inflamed, and a little piece pops up or breaks off (and is a chip). You can have them anywhere. Hip, knee, ankle, feet. The worst are in the neck. I saw one from a C-spine a couple years back that looked like a hypodermic needle.

hotstatrat (Toronto): Is that a power sapping injury Evan Longoria has? Hence, should we not expect a full return to power until next year?

Will Carroll: Here's the key on Longoria -- he broke his ARM (distal tip of ulna), not his wrist. If you pointed to the area, we'd all use the common term of "wrist" but it's not anatomically so. There was someone who had a very similar injury, but I'm away from my database and my readers are letting me down on that TJ Dback ... oh, Tony Womack!

Silv (NY, NY): Whither Brad Penny? Are his injuries (which smell cascade from a mile away) going to have the Dodgers err on the side of caution and decline his option in the offseason?

Will Carroll: Yeah, I'd pass. I think the Dodgers will have to take a long look at him and at their recent difficulty in getting these guys back to health (Schmidt, Saito) and at the market.

David (NYC): Re Merriman, don't steroids strengthen/enlarge the muscles hence putting more torque/strain on the ligaments? Or am I wayyyy off?

Will Carroll: No, they do, but the question is by how much? Merriman's a big dude and has always been a big dude. Given the fact that the injury occurred in the off-season and absent a positive test NOW, I have a hard time saying that's it.

Rick (Chicago): So assuming the Cardinals miss the playoffs, Pujols would probably be smart to get the surgery the first week of October so that he can be on the field next May and have the problem fixed?

Will Carroll: Given his results this season (and every season of his career), why would you change anything? What if TJ changed something and he lost power? Unless and until Pujols HAS to have the surgery, I don't think you do it. Or until he decides he wants to. In that case, the smart thing to do is shut him down the second you decide the Cards are out of it and buy a couple weeks. Of course, that would kill my fantasy team ...

birkem3 (Dayton, OH): Although it wasn't due to injury, couldn't Wily Mo Pena be used as an example for how missing years of development lowers someone's ceiling? That major league contract killed his development.

Will Carroll: I'd have to counter with Josh Hamilton and say we need a much bigger sample size. Seriously, the idea of testing this is really exciting.

rawagman (Toronto): Will, can Scott Rolen ever be expected to regain some of his former power? Thanks

Will Carroll: At this stage, no I don't think so. Degenerative shoulder and age are a bad combo.

raygu1 (burlington, nj): Will-thanks for the chat. John Perrotto thinks the Dodgers will make a push for CC this offseason. Would teaming CC, Billz, Kuroda and Kershaw together form the best rotation in baseball? Who will be better long-term: Kemp or Justin Upton?

Will Carroll: Hmm. Sabathia at the head of any rotation is darned good. Not sure it's the best ... the Rays young staff will all be back, with Price and maybe Davis. Twins staff is really good, but lacks that "ace" unless Liriano comes all the way back. Giants could be outrageously good if Bumgardner pushes his way up next year and Sanchez comes back.

Gump (nyc): Wikipedia's list of position players who have had Tommy John surgery: Rocco Baldelli, Joe Borchard, Shin-Soo Choo, Chris Denorfia, Rusty Greer, Luis Gonzalez, Matt Holliday, Norris Hopper, Cezar Izturis, Kelly Johnson, Xavier Nady, and Vance Wilson. Also, Jose Canseco could be included but doesn't really count since he blew out his arm while pitching.

Will Carroll: Jimmy Wales is a great guy, but .... man, that's a really incomplete list.

Colin Wyers (Davenport, IA): Excuse me, can you direct me to Baseball Prospectus? I seem to have wandered into a Joe Morgan chat. Scare opposing lineups?

Will Carroll: Show me some numbers. In the midst of a chat, I'm not going to pause and cut/paste VORP, but I will bet that the rotations I mention are more effective.

raygu1 (burlington, nj): Will-Who will be better long-term: Kemp or Justin Upton?

Will Carroll: Different players, but I'd take Upton SLIGHTLY. He's younger (I think) and with his brother's development pattern, I'd think that he's ahead of him on the curve.

Brian (brooklyn): How do you determine someone's "development"? Don't all players become what they were meant to become?

Will Carroll: I'd think we'd have to use PECOTA to project the development before and after the injury. To see if similar players, one with an injury, one without, continue to develop and where their ceilings are.

Josh (MA): Is there any way to measure if a player is "soft?"

Will Carroll: Poke him.

jklein (TP): Why would I gauge the effectiveness of playoff teams' Top-3 pitchers by the amount of fear they cast in the opposing teams locker room? harden, dempster, lilly are more than able to win the WS for the Cubs. how's that for anti-pessimism?

Will Carroll: "Scare" is a colloquialism. No one in the bigs thinks there's a pitcher he can't hit off of, but I'm saying there are guys that they would rather not face. Seriously, if I'm asking YOU to try and get a hit off a MLB pitcher, do you want CC Sabathia or Ted Lilly?

SC (Minneapolis): Will- Is anyone doing biometric analysis similar to that used to measure loads and stress on pitchers to measure swing strength/energy? Perhaps not particularly useful in understanding injury risk, but it might provide more data about offensive prospects.

Will Carroll: Not that I'm aware of, but I'd bet it's out there.

big baby (nj): Will, what do you think the Mets should do with Pelfrey? He is just passing last year's innings total, however he looks like he's getting stronger and stronger. His innings last year are much different than his innings this year. Is it right to value them differently? Should 9 low stress innings of 100 pitches be valued the same as 5 high stress innings of 100 pitches?

Will Carroll: Use him within the limits of common sense, but use him. He's not overworked, but he's sliding into that danger zone. He's -- 24? Almost at the nexus if my memory is correct. (And excuse my not looking up numbers. I'm sitting out on my patio doing this chat with a nice cigar and some great coffee.) As long as he's effective, you use him, but you take opportunities to get him out and monitor his fatigue levels. If there's a way to buy him (and that whole staff) rest, you do it.

Gump (nyc): It's not like I have work or anything... a few more Tommy Johnnies from Baseball Reference's Wiki: Roberto Alomar, Jay Buhner, Jose Guillen, JR House, Todd Hundley, Trey Lunsford, Carlos Martinez, Ray Olmedo, Luke Scott, Taylor Teagarden, Tony Womack. Are catchers are more susceptible to UCL injuries?

Will Carroll: No, though you'd think they would be. It seems like it's 2B for some reason.

Greg (Honolulu): What specific procedure would Sandy Koufax undergo today to treat whatever was wrong with his elbow in 1966?

Will Carroll: It was his shoulder, mostly, and no one really knows. I'd guess labrum or cuff.

Patrick (MPLS): Was Derrek Lee's broken arm the same bone as the one Longoria broke?

Will Carroll: Might have been ... again, I don't have my notes, but that sounds right, he came back quickly, and didn't lose power.

jklein (TP): I see your point. I'd say it'd be Lilly vs Parra as a better comparison. Still, the combined top 3 SNVAR's of the teams in question (using the cubs top-3 minus Z). ARI - 13.9 BOS - 12.6 MIL - 12.3 CHC - 11.7 Your point is valid but the differences in all staffs is fairly narrow.

Will Carroll: That is narrower than I expected.

Mike (NJ): When you say Joba and Wang will be 2-3 that's assuming they sign CC right? Do you think a team should be wary of him because of the way the brewers are having him throw 120+ pitches every game?

Will Carroll: Yes, it's assuming they have a 1. Those guys could be 1-2 on most teams. No, I'm not wary of CC in any way other than signing him very long term (4+) or letting him in front of me at a buffet.

Vlad (Chicago): Will, re: Zambrano's injury - there's nothing unusual about his release point or velocity according to PitchFX. Are you sure you're not falling prey to some sort of confirmation bias?

Will Carroll: The velocity actually ticked up last time -- 95,96 -- so altering the motion isn't a good gauge there. (Another example would be Pedro Martinez in 2006.) As for the release point, I can't explain that. My guess -- GUESS -- is that he stands more upright or shortens the stride at the same time which coincidentally puts the release point in the same place. (Interesting to think that Zambrano might be doing that unconsciously.) I'm watching on TV, so bad angle. But could I be wrong? Absolutely. That's why I love PFX. If they could do a video overlay so we could really match up PFX with what we see, that'd be amazing.

Brandon Jacobs, Adrian Peterson, and Andre Johnson (NFL): Are we each going to miss ~3 games this year?

Will Carroll: Probably, probably, no.

oira61 (San Francisco): Please comment on Bruce Jenkins' two-part story on the decline of the complete game in the San Francisco Chronicle. After part 1 you said you didn't disagree with it. Still true?

Will Carroll: I'm still digesting it. I think Jenkins did a lot of good work here - that he started with Doug Melvin's idea of reliever first shows he did his digging. In the end though, he goes back to what Keith Woolner pointed out a couple years ago, that we're using the exceptions to prove the rule. Robin Roberts was NOT normal any more than Randy Johnson is normal. If the point is that we can probably get more out of pitchers, then I agree. If the point is, as it seems at the end, that bucking pitch counts and just throwing until the arm falls off is the best way to find the next Robin Roberts, I'll disagree strongly.

Silv (NY, NY): Not to disagree, Will, but it was Koufax's elbow - he received repeated and multiple cortisone shots directly into the joint, ostensibly for traumatic arthritis.

Will Carroll: Read Jane Leavy's book. He did get tons of cortisone injections, all over, but it was his shoulder that ended him.

Rob (Oakland): Next year for Bumgarner? That would surely be too hasty for a guy who'd be two years removed from HS for a non-competetive team, right?

Will Carroll: I said "if." I'd disagree with hasty. If he's ready, he's ready. Teams need to put their best 11 pitchers out there and find roles for them and quit finding guys who fit the roles.

SC (Minneapolis): Since you're taking football questions, on another corner of the internet, we have been debating how widespread PEDs are in (European) football. Many have argued that PEDs wouldn't be useful, as strength is less valuable. Can you offer any insight into PED use in football, and more broadly, what benefits they might reap users.

Will Carroll: You have to define PED as something that, you know, "enhances performance." In that case, yes, there is use. It's more like cycling in that you need stamina and increased oxygen uptake, making EPO an abused drug. There's a lot of use of greenies/Ritalin-class drugs for reaction time and just being alert. (EPL stars party like nobody's business.) There's also a much broader use of something called prolotherapy, which often uses insulin to irritate joints and can have some PED-like qualities.

Brian (brooklyn): Any opinions on what you have seen from Pedro Martinez this year? Think he signs a new contract after the season or will he hang them up?

Will Carroll: I think that decision is based more off whether he wants to or not. His father's passing has to be a big deal. If the Mets win it all, does he go out a winner? I think he could pitch again, but not sure if he wants to do so.

raygu1 (burlington, nj): Alvarez is placed on the restricted list and Boras wants to renegotiate his contract. thoughts?

Will Carroll: NO idea here. Very odd situation. When we talked to Boras for BPR a couple years ago, he had a strict "no renegotiation" policy, so something's in play here that I don't understand.

Brian (brooklyn): I saw in the football outsiders debate you went by "William Carroll". Any particular reason for that (I ask because I thought I read somewhere that you and your father share a name and people often confuse your work...)

Will Carroll: Never noticed. I'll assume that's because my email says "William Carroll" for no apparent reason and those discussions take place on email. The way we usually keep the confusion down is that he's the one with "Dr." in front of his name.

Pete (St. Pete): A serious golfer friend of mine says the performance enhancer of choice for many guys on the tour is psychological drugs--Zoloft, Xanax, etc. Do you hear much about this in baseball? (And I mean real mood-adjusters, not Ritalin and Adirol.)

Will Carroll: I'd say that the use of "psychological drugs" as you put it is the rough equivalent of what you see in society. Lots of people use anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and so forth. The question of PEDs has nothing to do with guys who have real medical conditions and everything to do with guys who don't.

Corey (Tempe, AZ): What's the status on Gallardo's return? Should we expect a full recovery?

Will Carroll: Full return yes, but it looks like it will be close on getting him back this season. October? Maybe. I heard that Gallardo will get some work in the Mexican league this off-season, so that will be helpful info for next year.

Jonathan (New York): RE: Second basemen and TJ, maybe it has something to do with the angle of their bodies relative to first base and they make more throws from inconsistent arm slots than other positions.

Will Carroll: Yeah. I wonder if the "lesser" arm strength most have leads to more max effort throws as well.

Lincoln (Fort Worth): What's the latest on Chad Johnson's labrum? How long should be out for and what kind of effect can such and injury have on a WR?

Will Carroll: It's torn, but he'll play. He'll be in a harness, but the Bengals are doing some creative work on the playbook to maximize what he can do. I think he'll end up about where his KUBIAK is.

Dennis (Monterey Park): Hi Will, thanks for your great work. To what extent do you think injuries will keep Andy LaRoche and Travis Buck from fulfilling their seemingly considerable potential? Buck especially can't seem to stay in one piece. Thanks again!

Will Carroll: You have to take it into consideration with both. Health *is* a skill.

Will Carroll: And with the end of my cigar comes the end of my chat. Thanks for all the questions and thanks for reading.

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