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Chat: Will Carroll

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday February 19, 2009 1:00 PM ET chat session with Will Carroll.


With the THRs coming out fast and furious, ask original medhead Will Carroll your questions about player health, PEDs, and more.

Will Carroll: I'm sipping my Peet's today out of my Montreal mug, a souvenir of the time I was called there to testify in front of WADA. Of course, that coffee is a PED, in a way, so I like the irony, but mostly I just like coffee. So let's have a real conversation about PEDs and maybe the occasional baseball or dramatic hint about something I'm excited about, but can't REALLY talk about yet.

davestasiuk (NYC): hi Will, thanks for the chat. Would you consider the performance enhacing effect (if any) of amphetemines similar to cocaine? Meaning: are they, in the end, comparable stimulants as far as PEDs might be considered?

Will Carroll: Well, there's no real study about what cocaine would do for a team. I dont think at least, but we do know it was in the game pretty heavily for a period. Amphetamines are definite enhancers. Players were very much reliant, even addicted to them in all forms. It's like my coffee -- am I as good at what I do if I don't have my morning pot of coffee? No, I don't think so anyway. If I had a late night, am I going to do my best if I can't? Could I sub in a Pepsi Max? Sure, that would work. If I was a player who'd been out the night before and was tired, or worn down by the season, would I be drinking coffee? Heck yeah. Would I consider something stronger, especially if lots were doing it and there was a jar in the locker room (as there was in the 60s)? Yes. When I wrote The Juice, I said that amphetamines were the far larger problem. I was surprised that there wasn't a bigger effect when they were banned, but I think most either shifted to something legal or doubled down on the espresso.

Dr. Zaius (VA): how does guerrero hold up this year? is last year's struggle to maintain elite level signal the end?

Will Carroll: Vladimir Guerrero had his knees cleaned out over the winter, but I'm told he's not running at 100% yet. He's always been an awkward looking runner, but that's never clearly been a bad thing. I think age is catching up with him, like all of us, and don't see him fighting off the effects.

John (Cambridge): Thanks for the chat, Will. Any reason O's fans should be worried about locking up a 31-year old second baseman for the next five years? Do you think health issues will force Roberts to move at some point?

Will Carroll: Has he ever apologized to fans? I don't remember it.

Five years is a long time, but no, he's probably a pretty good risk. He's been relatively healthy, no major leg injuries, and is still very speedy/athletic. If he's forced to shift, third should be available or even the OF or DH.

KMD (Portland, OR): A thanks to you and the other BP writers for addressing PEDs with a nuanced and honest approach that isn't found elsewhere. Do you see Johan Santana's knee being a reoccuring problem?

Will Carroll: You're welcome. I wish Joe Sheehan's last column could be broadly syndicated. I keep advocating a "BP Library" - a best of section that would be free. That'd be one for the Library.
Santana? Long term yes, but short term no, though he's definitely one of those guys I'm watching in spring training to make sure it's not more of a problem than I expected.

dbiester (Brooklyn): Any updates or prognosis on Chase Utley? When he's back, would you expect huim to be limited physically like with some wist/hand/thumb injuries, or all the way back?

Will Carroll: Utley's doing some drills and running, but isn't 100%. I think he should be close to his goal of playing on Opening Day, but until we get to see him play, it's very hard to guess how it will affect him. I think a bit less running, but I'm more concerned with whether it alters his swing any or gets in his head.

ericmilburn (San Francisco): Will, I look at Matt Cain and say "he's pitched 200+ innings 3 years in a row. This trend shows that he'll likely do the same this year." You look at him and say "his heavy workload on a young arm is more likely breaking it down, rather than proving he's capable." You're clearly right, but I have a hard time thinking I'm completely off base.

Will Carroll: I understand why you think that, but over and over we see that the mileage put on an arm before age 24-25 is, no matter how "babied", damaging in the long and short term. Maybe he's the freak that can handle it, but I'm talking about probabilities not certainties. Carlos Zambrano is the comp that comes to mind here, or Jeremy Bonderman. With him and every good young pitcher, I hope I'm wrong.

bravoatoc (Edmond, OK): Have you heard any information about Tyson Chandler and what specifically forced the trade to be rescinded? I have heard it was about turf toe. What exactly is turf toe?

Will Carroll: It is turf toe -- which is a hyperextension injury to the big toe. With grass, the grass would give before the toe, something that didn't happen on turf, hence the name. So how does a hoops player get it? Sticky shoes, so maybe in hoops we should call it "Taylor toe" because it would never happen with a cool pair of Chucks. It's INTENSELY painful.

larry (chicago): Will, thanks for the chat. What are your thoughts on Jose Contreras? Seems like he's ahead of the (admittedly conservative) previously scheduled return. Will he be back on the mound sometime in April?

Will Carroll: Yeah, I think he should be back and a solid contender for the back of the Sox rotation. Achilles repairs are pretty "easy" and predictable and seldom have problems after the surgical fix. We don't see a lot of them in baseball, but the structure is what it is.

philosofool (Athens): I can pretty much take what you just said about Matt Cain, apply that to Felix Hernandez and feel bad about my team's future, huh? Anything special about the fact that Felix averages just under 100 pitches per start to brighten my day?

Will Carroll: Or any young pitcher, so don't feel like I'm singling you out. In fact, Mr. Fool, you had a great comment about regression vs Verducci that has me working on a study, so please email me.

PJ (Montreal): Hey Will, greetings from Montreal! Since Youppi! moved to hockey, I have a NHL PED question for you. We have way, way too much craziness here right now with Montreal Habs players apparently doing too much partying and boozing instead of focusing on what they're paid to do. I was wondering if you could shed some light on what the NHL drug/PED policy covers in terms of amphetamines and other boosts that players could be tempted to use to recover from the hangover or the sleepless nights... Does the NHL test for anything like that? And how often? Thanks for your time!

Will Carroll: The NHL uses the WADA list, which covers darn near everything. The "weakness" in the NHL's policy isn't their list, but the lack of off-season testing. It's not ideal, but when you look at the international play of NHL players, there's very, very little in the way of positives and that does include off-season testing. I remember one or two players busted by the Olympic committee, with one being Jose Theodore, who was using Propecia for his thinning hair and didn't have a TUE. That's more of an "oops" than a "gotcha" and the NHL didn't suspend him. I'd guess that amphetamine use in hockey is much like baseball, though there's half as many games. Gosh, I hope I don't have to answer a bunch of steroid questions when Hockey Prospectus lau ... oh, wait, I shouldn't say that quite yet.

dianagramr (NYC): So what cool music are you listening to lately? And does your dramatic hint have ANYTHING to do with the MLB Network?

Will Carroll: Van Morrison's live version of Astral Weeks and Jason Isbell's new album.
Nothing to do with MLB Network. Honestly, I've been underwhelmed. It's just not compelling to me any more than Sportscenter is and I honestly haven't watched that as anything more than background noise for a while.

John (Las Vegas): You are not listed as one of the contributors to the book this year and yet you acknowledge someone in the back of it, did you work on it or not? P.S. Someone needs to add back the player index for next year's edition. I am really missing it.

Will Carroll: I did not work on the book this year but it is our one chance to broadly thank people. I honestly haven't seen the book yet and forgot who I thanked! Believe me, every one of my columns should come with a long list of those.

Matt (Atlanta): With the latest round of steroid hysteria is there any chance that some outlet (whether it be stats people, ESPN/SI, MLB) will finally conduct an in depth evaluation of what PED's really do to modify performance? This whole situation has reached the point of absurdity, and it seems to me for all parties inolved an honest determination of what these drugs do or don't do to performance is the only way to move on. Second, why aren't the people that illegaly leak sealed evidence the real criminals here, whether the actual sources or the enablers at SI that are no different than get away drivers at a bank robbery? Unfair traials are a problem for all Americans. Thanks for the chats, it's one of my favorite features at BP.

Will Carroll: I think when the list from 2003 comes out (or more likely, leaks out) that we'll have enough of a sample size to do that. JC Bradbury did a nice study on Rodriguez which showed almost no effect, which is about what I'd expect. 5%, max, on performance, though I'm much more interested in healing and recovery.

MA (Athens, GA): As a musician, I've heard of (but not used) beta blockers, such as Inderal, being used to boost performance (during auditions and possibly concerts). Is this a substance that baseball players use?

Will Carroll: Great question and yes, I know of pitchers that use those to calm them before starts. It's not in wide use.

stewbies (rochester): just curious - Mike Maroth just signed with the Jays and they say he may need surgery this spring - who pays for the operation?

Will Carroll: If he's signed, then the Jays, unless there's some agreement in place. Most players also have their own health insurance which contributes and Worker's Comp gets involved in some.

Stephanie (DC): Settle a debate I'm having - do you trade D. Price for Wieters straight up? How much thought goes into it?

Will Carroll: Wow. A lot of thought. I'm not sure I could pull the trigger either way, but it's RELATIVELY even. It's hard to find a dominant young starter (which I assume he will be) and harder to find a young catcher with power (which I assume he will be.) It's pretty darn even, so I'd probably bias to scarcity, which would be Wieters.

I think I'm getting an O's jersey this year - I buy one every year before the season. Is it too subtle if I get "McNulty" on the back?

Cris E (St Paul, MN): Is there drug testing for the WBC and when does it occur? Did anyone have trouble with this last year?

Will Carroll: Yes, there is. I think it's under the auspices of the International Committee, which would make it any time and all the time. I don't remember any positives last time.

Clonod (St. Louis): Another writer on another website said steroids had no enhancement effects for baseball players and the only reason players take them is the same reason people with colds take echinacea: because they don't know any better. Agree?

Will Carroll: I won't go as far as saying no enhancement, though I'd say it's not worth the risk. Especially now, you can get 80-90% of the gains with legal products, so why use something that's illegal, banned, and has side effects like steroids? As for the "don't know any better" yes, plus there was widespread usage, plus there were no penalties for years.

Rob (Houston): Turf toe really must be painful--it forced Jack Lambert to retire, and he was the meanest guy around.

Will Carroll: It's insane how much it hurts. A couple years ago, my dog kind of ran under my feet and in trying not to squash the thing, I fell awkwardly and thought I'd broken my toe. It was the day before the Colts-Pats game and I hobbled up the stairs to the cheap seats and was very literally in tears. I'm no Jack Lambert by a long shot, but it hurts a lot.

Ryan (NY): If you were in charge of the MLB Network for one day and they said, "make our programming better" what would you do?

Will Carroll: "It's the Baseball Prospectus Hour! Your source for stats, fantasy, and insight from a different angle. No ex-players, no grit, gut, or heart, just the facts you'll need to understand baseball. Now, here's your hosts, Will Carroll and Jenn Sterger!"

Dizzle (Portland, OR): McNulty might be a fan favorite, but he's a head case, a big problem in the clubhouse, and his stats don't match his reputation. I'd vote for Bunk, he's clearly the stathead choice.

Will Carroll: So you're saying that McNulty is a perfect choice for me?

John (Las Vegas): For the Cubs to break the curse, Rich Harden almost has to be part of the solution. What are his chances of pitching during October? You might as well answer for April and May too.

Will Carroll: He pitched 150 innings last year, so why is that not a reasonable projection this year? I think the Cubs handled him well last year and would do well to handle him in much the same manner this year. It'd be a great way to break in Samardzija as well, subbing in that slot every four times through the rotation.

1574 (WMA): Why an O's jersey every year? I thought you shed all fandom, but were previously a cubs guy.

Will Carroll: Not an O's jersey every year, just a new jersey. (Hello, Hoboken!) Last year, I got a Longoria jersey. The year before was a Matsuzaka Sox jersey. (Hello, Charles!)

1574 (WMA): I feel that if every player came clean about what they did, that it would long term be better for everyone. I feel they could do so and espouse with it the same education you all here at BP do. Would it be more detrimental to players to do this than wait for the bad press associated with leaks?

Will Carroll: I agree, but the media would crush some of them. Some, they'd ignore. I'm STUNNED that the media isn't asking every player who was around in 2003 if they were on the list. So far I've only heard that Pudge Rodriguez got asked. Alex Rodriguez is supposedly partnering in some way with the Taylor Hooton Foundation. I hope that means that the THF will increase its educational activities.

I'll once again give my suggestion. Just like pink bat day, we have one day where it's "Steroid Education Day" - there's presentations at the games and extra commercials. Players that have tested positive are not allowed to play. Teams give half their receipts and players give half their days pay to help fund education. Give me one good reason why we can't implement this right now.

AE (Fitchburg): John Danks hasn't had the same workload that Cain, Hernandez etc... have had. Is he still a major risk this year?

Will Carroll: Yes, but "major risk" is overselling it a bit.

Stephanie (DC): Where do Hammel, Niemann, and Price start the season? Where are they at the deadline?

Will Carroll: One of those is traded and I wouldn't be stunned if Price started in Durham, just because of numbers. He'll be up fast. Has anyone looked to see how many times the Rays would need a 5 in April?

Ryan (NY): I don't get the biggest crime that gets glossed over these past few weeks. Someone leaked confidential anonymous testing information between the MLBPA and MLB. Are we looking at a Scooter Libby situation soon?

Will Carroll: I have no idea who leaked this, but whoever it is needs to be raked over the coals.

Ryan (NY): Do I move Grady Sizemore for either of these packages? Webb/BJ Upton or Kemp/Lincecum. 12 team 5X5, 5 man keeper.

Will Carroll: I'd definitely do it for Webb/Upton. Kemp/Lincecum I'd sure think about. That said, I think Sizemore's going to explode this year.

mase1361 (Boston): Will, who pitches more innings for the Red Sox this year: Smoltz or Buchholz?

Will Carroll: Hmm. Pure guess here, Smoltz.

Jonathan (New York): Which pitchers participating in the WBC worry you most as far exerting themselves too much too early in the spring? Liriano comes to mind for me. I wish the Twins had done what the Rays did with Kazmir.

Will Carroll: I'd heard that Liriano was out. I honestly haven't looked at the rosters that hard. Carlos Marmol comes to mind.

Dave (Chicago): With Chavez and Ellis coming off of major surgeries this offseason, who is actually going to be in the A's infield this season?

Will Carroll: That's the big question for the A's. Those two make a huge difference if they're on the field and any sort of productive. The dropoff to their replacements is pretty big. We may not know on Ellis until the season starts, but we should get a pretty good read on Chavez in March.

stewbies (rochester): What's your take on Randy Johnson? He was so good in the 2nd half and now he says he's fully healthy and in a good pitcher's park - does he have one more solid (full) season left in him?

Will Carroll: He's definitely worth a later round pick. If by full season, you mean 15-20 starts, yes. I wouldn't expect more, but I think in that park with that staff, he could have not just a solid season, but a really good season.

jlarsen (Chicago): If the White Sox win 73 games as predicted, Should Kenny Williams, Ozzie Guillen or both be shown the door?

Will Carroll: No. With Ozzie, it doesn't seem like the players have tired of him. I wonder if that's a function of the turnover or if he really doesn't wear on his team. With Williams, he'd be one of the guys I would interview if I owned a team. He doesn't care what PECOTA says, and shouldn't ... but if they do come out close to that number, someone needs to look at how he's evaluating the team and figure out where the gap is. A couple years ago, Nate Silver and I explained PECOTA to a team's front office and I'm sure Nate (who doesn't need me now!) would sit down with Williams to show him where they diverge on assessment.

ncassino (NY): Will, can you give us your thoughts on which pitchers are most likely to experience the Verducci effect this year? Thank you.

Will Carroll: Well, it's not a judgement call -- I think it was the now-missed Peter Bendix who put out the list. I haven't seen if Verducci has put out his annual list. That said, I'm working on something analyzing the Verducci Effect so if one of you math whizzes out there is available, email me.

dogtothedog (Toronto): D. Price for Weiters I pull the trigger on that deal in a heart beat if im the Rays. So when is Hockey Prospectus going to be up and running?

Will Carroll: Very, very soon. Really.

Dave (Chicago): Landon Powell allegedly has lost some weight. Two knee surgeries have killed his chances of being a starting catcher, but does he have a legitimate chance of being a decent backup?

Will Carroll: Kevin is a little taller, tends to wear a cool little cap, and wears his glasses down on his nose.
Joe is a little shorter, has more hair, and wears contacts.
I'm in the middle on height, usually have a baseball cap on, and wear glasses.

That's how you tell us apart.

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Does each pitcher have their own Verducci line (some guys 160, other guys can do 240 no problem, etc.)?

Will Carroll: No, you completely misunderstand -- it's only for pitchers under 25 who have increased their workload by 30 innings or more.

oira61 (san francisco): How do you watch games? MLB tv? Do you have the Extra Innings package? For the past couple of years I've been getting Extra Innings, but I'm thinking about switching to one of the regional sports network packages, which is cheaper. DirecTV just gives doublespeak about whether or not one can watch out-of-market baseball that way. Do you know what the skinny is?

Will Carroll: I use MLB.tv and love it. I also used the MLB iPhone app religiously, to the point of distraction. I don't have Extra Innings, just because of the blackouts and the fact that I don't want to pay alimony.

Chuck (Metroplex): Will- how about some quick thoughts on Dr Mike Marshall's pitching ideas

Will Carroll: There. After five tries in various forms, I'll tell you that I'm not real interested in discussing those any more. Call me when his methods produce some results. I've got more guys in organized baseball than he does.

Daniel (Michigan): Is A-Rod's account of the cousin with the energy booster "Bole" consistent with the positive test for Primobolan and testosterone? Is it common to mix the two drugs in a single injection?

Will Carroll: Stacking is common. What I'm unclear on is the Primobolan. According to MLB's own data, there's never been a positive test for it. I haven't been able to get a good answer about that.

HeathBP (NW AR): Will - have your or any of the other BP's tried Out of the Park baseball simulation? Its quite outstanding for a text-based game.

Will Carroll: Played it? Heck, I helped design the injury stats for it!

Matt (Frigid Tundra of Canada): I tried MLB.tv last season but I was blacked out of all the Blue Jays (my team!) games despite living in Calgary not Toronto. I've heard of similar problems with blackouts, is there any hope of this changing in the future or I am stuck with a bunch of unwatched cable channels if I want to watch Toronto?

Will Carroll: Maury Brown has done great work covering and explaining the blackouts. Last I read, they're still in place and still stupid. For a while in Indy, we couldnt see the Reds, Cubs, White Sox, Tigers, and Cards. That sucked.

buddaley (Clearwater): Hello Will. From what you know of Upton's surgery, do you anticipate it will solve his problem or is his swing going to always create problems for his shoulder?

Will Carroll: That's a really good question and one we just don't know. It was done to correct the problem, but will it? Best guess is yes, but we'll have to see. Apparently, he looked very funny in his L-brace this winter.

Jack (Boston): If you were really trying to be helpful you'd educate the readers on which Goldmanstein is which. Between Steven/Kevin/history/prospects/fat/not fat even I have no idea which is which. And one of them convinced me to buy The Glory of Their Times and Crazy 08 at a book signing

Will Carroll: Goldman looks more like a college professor. Big thick beard. Actually, when he was younger, he was a dead ringer for Kevin Smith. We could all use some conditioning help.

Ryan (NY): So, how many radio hits have you made in the last week or so?

Will Carroll: Somewhere north of fifty. I do 20-25 in a normal week. If you told me 100, I wouldn't disagree, though that's at the high end. That said, I love doing radio, even if it's about steroids because it's a chance to educate.

D-Rock (Ohio): Give me something positive about the Tigers - my girlfriend love them, but she's convinced they're returning to their old form.

Will Carroll: Have you not seen PECOTA? Have you not seen Kevin rave about Porcello? Jeremy Bonderman is said to be looking good in camp. They have a really nice cap.

birkem3 (Dayton, OH): It looks like the Rays will need a 5 three times in April - the 12th at Baltimore, the 25th at Oakland, and the 30th vs Boston. In May, it looks like they'll need him at least the next two times through the rotation, so Price call-up for the 25th?

Will Carroll: Seems reasonable. I'd give Hammel or Niemann that start on the 12th, assuming the Rays haven't traded one by then. Ha, you know, the Rays have so much brainpower right now that the last thing they need is second-guessing from me.

Dr. Xavier (NYC): Since, coincidentally or not, Phil Hughes has shown an inability to remain healthy after the Yankees modified his mechanics (higher armslot + tall-and-fall delivery) do you believe he and the Yankees would be best served if they simply reinstated the drop-and-drive motion Hughes had back in 2006 and tell him to just "let 'er rip" in AAA, and ultimately the majors? Or would it take too much humility and cojones to admit to such a mistake or risk an injury prone pitcher's health so, as a result, Hughes remains more of a finesse pitcher?

Will Carroll: I never saw Hughes before he made the majors -- or actually, before I saw him in Tampa. I can't remember what year that was. I don't remember any big change in mechanics, so I'll assume I never saw the 'drop and drive' you speak of. If true, then yeah, I'd definitely let him go back to it. Actually, I'd send him to ASMI and let him try both. What he's comfortable with now is also a big deal.

Mike (Chicago): Do you watch LOST? Would you ever ask Kate about Aaron again? And I'd tune into BP on MLB, even without Jenn Sterger. Who do I write?

Will Carroll: Love Lost, despite having no freaking clue about most of this stuff and I'm pretty convinced the writers don't either. I'm horribly curious, so I'd probably try to ask about it obliquely. I'm more curious about Sun -- she's leaving her kid behind!

Ben f. (In vacation in Boston): Do we know what JC Romero tested positive for? How stupid was he to get caught?

Will Carroll: He tested positive for metabolites of nandrolone, which appear to have been spiked in a supplement. The supplement maker has been known to do that in the past, I'm told by multiple sources, and the supplement itself was not approved. I can understand his excuse, but he's liable for anything he puts in his body. The one thing I'll dispute is the hotline. The players know about it, there's signs, and they respond quickly. I helped a player with it two years ago and got an answer in hours.

craftylefty (DC): Dice-K was incredibly inefficient last year, and pretty bad the year before. Yet his Japan numbers show good control. Is this just a difference in selectivity between MLB players and Japanese players? Or has something like a mechanical breakdown occurred? Have you identified any elevated health risk going forward?

Will Carroll: He's always been inefficient. He'll always throw the pitch he wants, which comes off as inefficient and a bit wild, but I'm convinced it's just his plan. He's not a normal pitcher in almost any way, but it works. I still think his contract is a bargain, even with the posting fee, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him win a Cy or two.

dianagramr (NYC): What do you think the chances would be of the *PLAYERS* offering up stricter PED testing and penalties as part of the next CBA contract?

Will Carroll: Roughly the same chances I have of Giada De Laurentiis showing up at my door, offering me fresh pasta and a carnal dessert.

Swingingbunts (NY): Hi Will, I'm curious about your "yellow" for Adam Jones. I read he spent the off-season working at the Athletes' Performance Institute in Arizona, why the yellow? Did his broken foot not heal properly?

Will Carroll: Something like API isn't reflected in the system. As I said in that THR, there's a worry that the foot is a chronic issue, though there's some noise in there. Remember there have been a lot of rumblings about his back and hip and I think ... think ... that some of that got translated into his foot. I had the system adjusted this year and honestly, I can't read it as well because of this cascading convergence thingamabob my programmer friend put in. In backtesting, it was more accurate, but I'll admit I'm still learning how to read it.

Rob (CT): Jorge Posada's shoulder is probably the biggest question for the Yanks (that, and CF) this season. Do you think he will return to form (something resembling his career averages, with some normal age-related decline and less games played than in the past)? Or do you have a less rosy view?

Will Carroll: I think there's a decent chance of the former, but there's a LOT of risk. Knowing that he really can't DH is the big issue now, though I'd push Matsui aside for Posada if that's the tradeoff. He's definitely going to be one of the guys I'm watching a lot in Spring Training. Or rather, having him watched ... I wish I was in Tampa!

Stephanie (DC): What sort of player might we reasonably expect in return for Hammel/Niemann? They'd be towards the top of an awful lot of prospect lists

Will Carroll: You know, good question. The return on Edwin Jackson was more than I'd expected, but the bigger question is what do the Rays need? Once you figure that out, you have to find a team that needs a starter, can handle the option situation, and has a match on the return. I'm stumped ... anyone?

Drew (NoVa): Will Ryan Zimmerman have reduced power/range as a result of his shoulder injury, or will he eventually come back full strength?

Will Carroll: Good question. If it's not back this year, is it a chronic issue or is he just not the power guy we thought he was. Kevin, I know, is down on him. I'm more wait and see.

Swingingbunts (NY): Ok, so if Adam Jones is a questionable yellow (which is what I think you said in your answer) then how does he stack up this season against some other young CF's like Chris B. Young or Lastings Milledge?

Will Carroll: He's yellow on risk -- what I mean is that I'm not quite sure that the reality matches the risk. There's a lot of that with all the unknowns we have to put into the system. I'd put him on level with Young (more upside) and a bit below Milledge.

mhixpgh (Pittsburgh): I asked this of CK and got a well-intentiond, but evasive dodge: How best to explain to 10 yr old little leaguers the issue of A-Rod, Clemens, et al. and PEDs. Any suggestions. Thanks.

Will Carroll: I actually gave a talk last year to a Little League group and used this analogy: Hold up your bats. (Every kid held up a metal bat.) Now, what if I put in a rule that says you have to use a wood bat? Would that make what you did last year right or wrong? Would you be tempted to try and sneak your metal bat into a game? Are you a good hitter or do you have a good bat? Does a better bat make you a better hitter? What Clemens, Rodriguez, and others did was wrong, but it also wasn't against the rules at the time.

achaik ((NC)): The examples of Hammel and Niemann are exactly why teams in other sports are allowed to trade players for draft picks. The Rays can't add anyone to their 25 man roster, and I believe the 40 man roster is full too. It would be a perfect situation to acquire a draft pick in the future. What is the thinking on not allowing these trades?

Will Carroll: Great point. I don't have any good reason why they shouldn't be tradeable.

Wolf (Yippie-WY-O): Read your recent article about the Dodgers' rotation. With his red light, should I be looking to unload Kershaw in my keeper league?

Will Carroll: Remember we're talking about risk and probability, not certainty or talent. Kershaw is unquestionably one of the best young pitchers in the game, but young pitchers are inherently risky. He has some concerns beyond the norm, so it's no surprise he's red. That doesn't mean he'll blow up tomorrow or ever. A Ferrari breaks down more than a Honda, but depending on your situation, there's a reason to pick one or the other. You just have to understand the situation.

Andrew (Fantasyland): I'm going into my keeper league auction with a strong offensive core and intend to spend heavily on some "ace" level pitching. Which ace(s) do you see being the healthiest this season?

Will Carroll: I'd take a look at the THR Matrix.

Charlie (Bethesda, MD): If you were Manny Acta, who would you play in the of/1b logjam? And what would you do with Austin Kearns to keep him busy during baseball games?

Will Carroll: Ok, this is admittedly a crazy idea ... I'd see which of those OFers could play 2B. Then when I had a fly ball pitcher on the mound, I'd play that guy. There's a level at which the increased offense would offset the drop in defense, but I'm not sure whether any of them could make that balance or be an overall improvement over ... well, who, Anderson Hernandez? That's not a really high bar, is it?

mhixpgh (Pittsburgh): "What Clemens, Rodriguez, and others did was wrong, but it also wasn't against the rules at the time." I'm not trying to be snarky, but isn't that a distinction without a difference?

Will Carroll: No, there's a difference between moral/ethical right and wrong and the rules. It's wrong to steal signs, but it's done. Everyone loved Danny Almonte until they checked his birth certificate. Let's say Lilly comes out with a pill that makes your vision 20/10 for six hours ... doesn't every player take it?

Ryan (NY): Can you explain a four year transition in ownership like they're doing in San Diego? How can it take four years?!

Will Carroll: I can't explain it, but I'm told it's both a business/tax issue and one of keeping Moores around for functional reasons like his position on committees.

Tom G (NYC): Hey Will - this is slightly off topic, but I'm a big fan of your work, and all the others on the site, and am frankly not sure who else might know the answer to this question. My other great love is soccer - do you know of anybody doing the kind of work there that's being done at BP and other places? Seems ripe for clear-headed statistical analysis yet I can't seem to find anything. Keep up the great work.

Will Carroll: Not yet. It's one I'd love to add to the PEV stable, but with all the work it's taken to get our next venture together, I can't say it will happen soon. Downside for me is that I'd be constrained by my consulting work there.

Will Carroll: Thanks for all the questions. You know where to find me until next time.

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