Check in with Will on all of the latest rumors and developments that keep the Hot Stove League burning.
Will Carroll: I'm a bit early and on "vacation" this week, if by vacation you mean not at home and somewhere a bit warmer than Indianapolis in January. I'm not quite as off the grid as I will be later this month, but pretty close. We won't go long today, but hopefully we can address the questions on my beat that you have.
Marc (San Antonio): How many games do you think the Cubs will get out of Milton Bradley over the next few seasons? Is it true that the third year of the contract is not guaranteed, but rather an option based on how much he plays in the first 2 years?
Will Carroll: I'd guess he'll play in something like 120 games per year. He's likely to have a hamstring strain or oblique strain along the way, just like any player. He's not as fragile as some have let on after he signed, but he also doesn't have the protection of the DH slot. The Cubs are (or at least look) five deep in the OF right now, so he should be able to get plenty of rest.
Taylor (Toronto): Have you heard anything about Casey Janseen and his recovery from shoulder surgery? What are the chances the Jays get 20 combined starts out of he, Matt Clement and Matt Maroth?
Will Carroll: No, we're at the stage of the season where pitchers are just beginning to throw and for guys like Janssen, no one's watching his rehab outside of the Jays staff. It's nearly impossible to follow these other than the "no news is good news" theory. 20 starts out of those? Just off top of my head, I'd say coinflip. I have *some* hope for Clement, especially in the short term, like a run of 8-10 decent starts.
HMGould ((SoCal)): Cole Hamels sure didn't look like he was wearing down in the postseason, but that was a huge jump in innings for a young guy. Do you expect that heavy usage to affect his 2009, and would it lead you to handle him at all differently? Or do you just assume 260 innings is his new baseline, unless/until he runs into problems?
Will Carroll: It was and I do. Peter Bendix did a nice article over at his blog about the Verducci Effect guys for next year and Hamels' is one of them. I'm actually working on a variant idea that might help explain a couple of the things I don't like about the VE. Anyway, I'd equate Hamels 09 to Verlander's 07. I don't think he'll crash, but he'll dip a bit. I hope the Phillies protect him. They've been very smart about him all the way back to his draft.
Ameer (Bloomington, IN): I read a Buster Olney article today saying that Andruw Jones is a borderline HOF candidate, which I think is a defensible position. I was just curious about your opinion on this - what the heck happened to the guy?
Will Carroll: Some guys just fall off the cliff. Conditioning? Something off-field? Some have suggested PEDs, but I've seen no evidence for that. There are so many factors we don't know about people. David Wells once pitched well and when asked why, he said "I don't know. Had a really good cheeseburger for lunch." There's a lot of cheeseburgers out there, things we don't know -- relationship? hotel bed? new child who doesn't sleep through the night?
ekanenh (Capital City): The thought that Jorge Posada (37 years old and coming off *shoulder* surgery) is being counted on to be the Yankees' regular catcher seems laughable to me. Is the joke on me?
Will Carroll: The 37 isn't the worry that the shoulder is. I think they intend to C/DH him as much as possible. It's *this year* that's tough, since with Damon/Matsui needing some DH time as well, Girardi will have to juggle things well to make the lineup work. One interesting thing is that the Yankees are moving to a new stadium and will have a new training room and rehab facilities. There's a small positive effect for teams that have done this in the past.
Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Any tips for a fan who needs to quit smoking? I don't smoke more than 5-7 a day, but none is too many.
Do any MLB players smoke? Would we even know? It's been a long time since Guy LaFleur would smoke on the bench between shifts.
Will Carroll: Go to a hospital and watch someone suffering from the effects of lung (or any) cancer. I don't know of any players that smoke, but I'm sure there are. The last I remember is Mark Grace.
jlarsen (DRays Bay): What do you expect of David Price's 2009? I dare to say that there's no better 5th starter in baseball than him.
Will Carroll: Is he *really* a #5? If so, does that make Kazmir the best #4 in the game? My only concern about Price is finding a solid 3d pitch and managing his workload. If the Rays are winning again, how do they hold his workload around the 150 inning mark? 35 scheduled starts, skip 5 on schedule, and that's six innings a game, which I don't like. They've got to try to get his IP/S up and his GS down to around 25.
Joe (Washington, DC): Hi Will. Whenever a player is signed he takes a physical (right?). How come these signings are never voided due to something that's found in the exam? Sure, it happens occasionally, but you'd think it would happen a lot more often (or maybe we just don't hear about it when it does happen).
Will Carroll: Because of all the due diligence before the signing.
Ryan (Phoenix): It appears that with the Giants signing Randy Johnson, the D-backs are in need of an additional starter to fill out the rotation. Although he's most likely out of the D-backs price range, what are your thoughts on them making a run at Ben Sheets? A rotation of Webb, Haren, Sheets, Davis and Scherzer looks awfully nice.
Will Carroll: I dont think you can have two guys in the rotation that you can't count on for 300 innings combined. You need to have 900 innings from your starters to be really good and 800 to even be considered. I like Scherzer a lot, but I'm not sure he can go that deep or stay healthy yet. Sheets, we pretty much know he can't.
brian (brooklyn): I am not asking for a rumor since you are out of that game but do you have any idea on where Smoltz and Schilling end up next year and if they will be able to pitch?
Will Carroll: I think Smoltz hangs around and signs with a contending team around May 1 and starts pitching around the ASB. Schilling? Maybe the same thing, but in his recent writing, he hasn't seemed inclined to come back, though I'm sure when games start, he'll get the itch at least a bit.
Phil (Philly): The thread with the biographies of the owners is one example of why every baseball fan should be reading BP. Could that be edited and turned into a resource article? Very informative, with lots of stuff that most of us don't know.
Will Carroll: Yeah i've been wondering what to do with that, but its an interesting concept.
Dave (Hanover, NH): Tom Curran at NBC Sports is saying that Tom Brady is likely to go on the PUP list for the opening of the 2009 season for the New England Patriots. If so, that means he won't be eligible to return until week 7. Have you heard anything about his ACL and MCL and are the rumors of a slow recovery legitimate?
Will Carroll: That would surprise me. I don't expect to know much until/if the Pats tag Cassell. Everything I've heard on Brady recently has been positive, but there's just no way to tell.
Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): How much longer do I have to wait for BP 2009?
Two quick questions:
1. How much chance do you see for Matt Clement's healthy return?
2. How much longer do you think we'll be waiting before FAs start grabbing jobs while they can? Rightly or wrongly, clubs are holding onto $ severely, and there are going to players left without chairs when the music stops playing (ST is only a month away).
Will Carroll: I'm not involved with the book, but I'd assume it will be out at the normal time. I'm sure CK will update as necessary.
1. I'm very cautiously optimistic. Reasonable risk with upside, at least iin the short term.
2. Not long. Some guys will get desperate and there's really not that many left out there. I always thought Manny would be the last one to go, by design and it seems that Dunn is everyone's Plan B.
Jack (Boston): What is the coolest new medical technology you're seeing around the game for 2009?
Will Carroll: Lots more teams using lasers. The injection used on Takashi Saito is being watched pretty closely. Drugs that make the tests obsolete will probably be a bigger deal, but be much less noticed.
Joe (Baltimore, MD): Will Brian Roberts be traded? Who do you see pursuing him?
Will Carroll: So many rumors for so many years now, but he's still an O. My guess is that whether or not Andy McPhail thinks he has a real shot at signing him before FA and if the O's contend are the determinants and that Roberts is more likely to be a mid-season deal than spring.
dogtothedog (Toronto): I had a smoke with Adam Lind outside the Rogers Center just as he arrived from the airport. Not that I'm proud of the smoking part just wanted to point out one major league who does smoke.
Will Carroll: So there's one.
kevin (boston): The long term plan in boston now seems to be waiting until anderson is ready and moving youk to third to make room for him. Does it really make sense to move a player up the defensive spectrum at around age 31 though?
Will Carroll: Only if he can play the position and Youkilis has been Gold Glove caliber at two positions and scouts say he could do the same at either corner, so why not? The Sox do a good job of making the best use of available resources. Anderson can't move, Youkilis can. It's really that simple.
Tim (NYC): Will, any comment on Reggie Bush's microfracture surgery? I know there's plenty of data for basketball and baseball (?), but what is the history for NFL players and the surgery?
Will Carroll: Poor, esp for running backs, but getting better. It's come a long way since Terrell Davis, but I don't think Bush is going to be a long term NFL guy anyway.
Stephanie (DC): Thanks for the chat, Will.
I know T. Percival had back surgery in the offseason. Do you know anything about this or heard any word on timeframes? The Rays bullpen is looking crowded.
Will Carroll: No, he's rehabbing, but like most guys, unless something's wrong, we won't know until they show up in St. Pete. Or, Port Charlotte, I mean. I hate when teams move.
Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): At this point in the offseason, with MLB revenues up and player spending down (except for the new Yankees), could a smart team swoop in and nab some useful bits at significant discounts with little risk?
Even if the current economic climate hits MLB at least a little, you'd have to think that teams like the Blue Jays should be noticing the sweetheart deals the Rays got on Burrell and the A's are rumored to be brokering with Giambi. Both of those players will have a lot of trade value at those prices.
JP, I'm looking at Dunn, Sheets, and Cruz, man, and I'm liking what I see.
Will Carroll: Every team is running their models of how much a player is worth to them, on and off the field, and comparing it to their budget. You compare that to the open market or even the players available in trade and see what's there. Every team has a different model, a different economic reality, and acts on it.
Andrew (Nueva York): Thoughts on the Nats new medical staff? on the old?
Will Carroll: I honestly missed that they had one. Names? The old ... well, they're not there, so I guess that says all you need to know.
Patrick (MPLS): What are they using the lasers for? And what drugs to replace what tests? Sorry, but your answer was kind of vague.
Will Carroll: Google "cold lasers". It's pretty fun to read.
There's always been PEDs avaialble that were/are untestable (HGH, IGF, insulin, etc). There's some now that are just ... well, the tests are obsolete. I'm hoping to write something on this soon, but if you remember my story about "Dr. X", you know it's not the normal calling around to dig up the steroid underground.
bdoublegeez (Evanston): I had a friend that worked for the ground crew at Miller Park a couple years ago. Apparently Danny Graves was a chain smoker in the bullpen.
Will Carroll: I'd guess that more pen guys would. They get bored.
joe (hartford): would pedro be a high-risk, high-reward type signing or is he done?
Will Carroll: I'd take a chance on him at the right price, which I guess is like saying water is wet. I'm curious if he could relieve. I'm told he can't, but I was told the same thing for years about Kerry Wood so ...
brian (brooklyn): Have you checked out MLB Network yet? Personally, I ended up watching Ken Burns Baseball for 2.5 hours last night and have no complaints
Will Carroll: I watched the initial show and have tivo'd a couple of the new shows, but like I said, I'm on vacation so I haven't seen much. It's pretty much a dress rehearsal right now for when ST kicks in, then WBC, then I'm curious to see if they give me a reason to watch. I'll be honest - I'm rooting for it and it will probably be my background noise of choice, but it's not compelling to me yet, largely because they're completely ignoring analysis and fantasy so far.
raygu1 (burlington, nj): Will-thanks for the chat. Any updates on Billingsley's recovery from the spiral fracture of his left fibula?? I read that the recovery is usually very long.
Will Carroll: Nope, again, we likely won't know much until reports start in a month. He's going to be behind and it's that behind that worries me. It was big before.
ericmilburn (San Francisco): Aaron Harang - what do you see being the reason for his struggles in '08, and will he be past them in '09?
Will Carroll: Overwork. Ask Dusty.
Eric (Denver): Do agents have any inclination of what next year's free agent market will look like in terms of teams' willingness to spend? If it's better, why not just have their players sign a one-year deal and try again after the season?
Will Carroll: I'm sure they have opinions, but I dont think any of us really know what the general or baseball economy will be like.
mike (chicago): What do we know about the japanese pitcher the orioles signed?
Will Carroll: Uehara was an elite starter, wore down, went to the pen, and is now over here. We'll see what he has left. I'm told he's more a 3/4 than anything and there's concerns about how he'll adjust to an American style.
Jim Humdingding (Albuquerque): What is the prognosis for Chad Tracy? Was last season's poor performance related to his health, and should more be expected from him this year? Is he recovering? Is there recovery?
Will Carroll: He was coming off the microfracture surgery and I'm sure that affected him, as well as the non-standard prep. I'd think he'd be better this year.
jimbeau (Left Coast): Hi Will, and thanks for the chat. Injuries are a big deal for every team, but they seem to REALLY be a significant issue for Cleveland's chances to compete. What have you heard on Hafner, Reyes, Laffey, Adam Miller, Tony Sipp and now Pavano (will he hold up)? Thanks.
Will Carroll: Nothing, standard answer. The question is really whether the Indians are leveraging their medical staff and knowledge into an advantage. I think they THINK they are, but there's a point where you expect some % of these guys to break down and you're risking a 'death spiral.' We'll see.
brian (brooklyn): I dont care how much he looks the part on TV, I will never consider Matt Millen an expert
Will Carroll: Forget jumping the shark, that one nuked the fridge.
Frank (Vegas): Will,
any FA's coming back from injury that the Bucs should take a flier on (being the low-budget team they are)? Maybe say a Mulder, or Pedro?
Will Carroll: None come to mind. I wouldn't risk Mulder and I don't think Pedro's a Pittsburgh kind of guy. They'll stick to plan, but Y2 is the one where you need to see the start of the change.
kmshipley (austin, texas): Any thoughts where a guy like Bobby Abreu ends up? Solid obp guy, could Texas use him?
Will Carroll: Abreu's kind of the guy who surprises me and maybe the guy most hurt by the market. A one year deal doesn't really help him the way it might with Dunn. Texas? No, they have enough OF guys and why spend when you have Nelson Cruz?
birkem3 (Dayton): Is Millen the NFL's version of Steve Phillips?
Will Carroll: I wish I had a prize for this man. Let's go to a Dragons game some time, birkem3 and the first beverage is on me.
brian (brooklyn): Have you ever interviewed or even had a casual conversation with a proffessional wrestler? I would think that between the injuries, PEDs and painkillers you would have a field day.
Will Carroll: Sigh, the great lost chapter of "The Juice."
P Bu (St. Louis): Is there any news on Mark Prior?
Will Carroll: Nope. I think he's done.
Matt (Chicago): Will -- sorry for the football question, but in the Football Outsiders game chat, you mentioned a couple of times that LDT's (I refuse to refer to him as LT) groin injury would be painful, but should not affect his ability to play, particularly if he took a painkiller injection. Anything come out subsequent to the game that would cause you to rethink that analysis? (And not trying to play "gotcha!" here; I am not aware of any further info/development.)
Will Carroll: He didn't take the shot.
Scott (Detroit): The information on Rocco Baldelli's supposed new diagnosis has been vague. What's your take on it and how will it impact his playing time? What do expect his peak performance to be?
Will Carroll: I know what you know on it. Just have to hope for the best for him on a personal level and on a baseball one, that he gets a chance to show what all those scouts saw and we've only had glimpses of.
Rob (Brighton): How many innings can the Red Sox hope for from Penny next year?
Will Carroll: Hope for? 220. Count on? 0. I imagine the Red Sox have a number in mind, one that gets them some time to let Buchholz have some solid Pawtucket time.
rawagman (Toronto): Will - how do you go about grading recovery potential from a concussion (or similar) injury? What separated Corey Koskie from Ryan Church? How does Aaron Hill look heading into 2009? Thanks
Will Carroll: I don't. I'm no doctor and it's a mystery to them why these go the ways they do. There's so many unknowns here. Haven't heard anything on Hill.
Drew W (NoVA): If the reports are true, Chad Cordero is ready to audition for teams this week. But when the Nationals released him they said he wouldn't be ready to throw until next June. Did Cordero rehab that quickly?
Will Carroll: I think that there's a gap between being ready to audition and show progress and potential and being ready to pitch meaningful innings in big league games. I'm very curious to see how he does and what teams attend.
Stephanie (DC): Where do you see Wieters opening the year? Where would you have him on opening day?
Will Carroll: My guess would be the Longoria Plan for him, likely starting at AAA.
Kevin (St. Louis): What is the deal with Carpenter? Is it the nerve thing combined with Tommy John? Cardinals management is all over the place, talking about him starting 30 games and then talking about him closing. Please shed some light on this and what his prospects for this year look like...
Will Carroll: There's TWO nerve problems, one in the shoulder and one in the elbow. The elbow is a usual TJ side effect and is reportedly controlled. The shoulder's a tougher one. Because of all this plus his history, we just don't know. The closer stuff is TLR not wanting to go with a rookie in that slot, but who knows. I can't imagine that Carpenter could be a "normal" closer at this stage and would end up more like Percival in usage.
ekanenh (Capital City): Re: Matt Millen. Will, how would you respond to someone who said, "I've seen Will Carroll's body; he shouldn't be talking about athletes"?
For the last 8 years Matt Millen was the worst GM in NFL history. But for several years before that he was one of the better broadcast game analysts around. He did a lot of MNF on radio (teaming with Marv Albert to make the laughable TV heads irrelevant) and was, I think, Dick Stockton's partner on TV. Millen's broadcast chops would run circles around about 85% of the current crop. Last time I checked, ability to play the game or generally manage a team bore no relation to broadcast ability.
Will Carroll: I have so many responses, but none of them printable.
As for Millen on games, maybe he's good. I don't know that I've ever seen him. I'd just rather see someone like Charlie Casserly who actually was good at his job offering his expertise. I guess you could say Dick Vitale is a great announcer/bad coach and that's just one example.
brian (brooklyn): No Peete's today?
Will Carroll: On the road, dude.
Dave (Chicago): Eric Chavez says his shoulder feels the best it has in 10 years. I've learned never to trust a statement about health from the A's, so what can we realistically expect from Chavez this year?
Will Carroll: We'll see early. I think Chavez is a "binary" -- either we'll see he's got "it" back early in ST or he won't.
tddewan (Torrance, CA): Please give me your opinion/projection on the health and performance for John Maine and Mike Pelfrey in '09.
Will Carroll: More worried about Pelfrey due to the workload increase, but the Mets watched him so closely that we're going to learn about the inevitability of the Verducci Effect with him. I like both on performance and value.
mrerjr (Trop): Should Rays fans worry about Pat Burrell's feet?
Will Carroll: No. I think Burrell ends up DHing at least half time, more if there's problems.
bdoublegeez (Evanston): Does the MLB app on the iPhone make it a must have for baseball enthusiasts? Any other interesting baseball apps you've come across?
Will Carroll: The app or the phone? The app is a must have and I'm curious how they'll upgrade it for this season. Last year's was revelatory. It actually changed how I watched games, in much the same way that MLB.tv had. No other real great apps. I mean ... the internet has some good stuff on it and my iPhone gets to that better than any phone I've used.
John (Cincy): What do you know about Joey Votto's ability to play the OF? Supposedly Alonso was drafted with that thought in mind.
Will Carroll: He can't be worse than Dunn was, can he? Its worth the experiment at the point Alonso forces the Reds to figure it out.
Martin (Disneyland): Are Howie Kendrick's constant nagging injury issues just flukey or do you see an underlying issue? ie conditioning. He think he has tremendous potential and could contend for batting titles, but the kid is never on the field long enough.
Will Carroll: Genetics, maybe.
ekanenh (Capital City): When it comes to how to build a team, maybe Casserly is better than Millen on TV. When it comes to talking about actually playing football, though (which Millen did), why should he be such a pariah?
Dan Marino holds a lot of records. He still can't construct a sentence.
Orel Hershiser...great pitcher, great analyst. Rick Sutcliffe, damn good pitcher, damn bad analyst.
Will Carroll: I'll agree here -- I was railing against the idea that a guy THAT bad could tell us much, but you make a great point about presentation, which is why we have Steve Phillips. I'd like to think it was a meritocracy, but it's not.
Stephanie (DC): Did you like what you saw from Gallardo on his return? Thoughts on him for the upcoming season?
Will Carroll: I'm working on something trying to figure out what to expect and I'm curious what PECOTA will say. I've always like Gallardo and know somewhere I picked him ahead of Hughes and Bailey ... I'd like that one for my highlight reel.
Steve (Tacoma): The latest news on Bedard is that he is feeling good and throwing regularly. I still dont quite understand what the issue was. Torn labrum or no torn labrum? Are you optimistic about him being healthy this season?
Will Carroll: File this with the "best shape of his life" or "has X put on weight?" stories we'll see early next month.
Will Carroll: And with that, I'm done for today. Thanks for the questions and I'll see you guys in February.