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Chat: Will Carroll

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday March 25, 2009 1:00 PM ET chat session with Will Carroll.


Between WBC-related concerns and camps halfway through getting sorted out, Will Carroll's keeping an eye on who's headed to the trainer's table. Join in to ask him your questions.

Will Carroll: Greetings all ... not sure why, but I'm having the worst time with typos today. I guess the caffeine hasn't seeped into my fingers, so I'll put another pot on. Lots of injury talk as I get ready to go to Tout Wars this weekend, so let's chat. I'll go to about 2.30 since I do not grasp the concept of marathon chats. I love talking to readers, but I think you'd rather I was talking to sources and getting you the best info I can. Powered by getting all the THR's out by April 1, on to the chatting:

Ira (North Texas): Hey Will!!! nice to hear from you, love the THR's love the health reporting in general. JD and Wash of the Rangers have stated repeatedly how excited they are about the health of the Rangers Rotation. What do you think the chances of all 5 of them remaining healthy all year, and if not, what is your over/under on the first date when one of them goes on the shelf.

Will Carroll: I doubt there will be any team that goes with five guys all season. I can't remember the last time it happened, though I think it was 2007 for some reason. With guys like Padilla and so many young guys, not to mention Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz pushing their way up, I think the more realistic goal is to lose as few games to injury in their rotation. They're better suited to that now.

scottieo2 (portsmouth, ri): Will, I've heard reports that Alex Rodriguez's hybrid surgery has an 85% to 90% chance of lasting over the course of the season. How do doctors determine such an estimate in such a seemingly unique situation?

Will Carroll: It's unique to baseball, but it's hardly unique. The technique has been used in hockey and skiing before, and is often used in a standard population as well. Standard population is older and hardly a world-class athlete, but I think it's instructive.

theguag (Louisville): Keith Law wrote in his blog that Stepehn Strasburg's increase in velocity could be a warning sign about a possible future breakdown, pointing to Joel Zumaya and Nick Hagadone as potential comparables. I'm curious to hear your take.

Will Carroll: It's interesting because as Steve Henson wrote yesterday, there's almost no comparables. The thing that grabs me is that he doesn't seem to lose velocity in game. He can ease off his max and still be in the 90's. I'll assume from all the scouting raves that he can do the same thing in the majors. The slurve is filthy to boot. I just don't think we *know* and yes, KLaw's right in that that known unknown is quite the risk especially when you consider that Strasburg hasn't been throwing this hard that long. No one knows if his body can take it. There's whispers that Boras has a full kinematic study in his Strasburg book, which would really be interesting to get a look at. If I'm the Nats, I'm putting Glenn Fleisig on retainer.

Jay (Madison): Any thoughts on how BJ Upton's mending shoulder will impact his ability to hit for power this year? long term?

Will Carroll: I had an interview with my pals over at DRaysBay and the thing is, Upton's power was down with the shoulder injury and then pow, it's back for the playoffs. It's clear that he just "let it go" in October and that's the kind of power he has. The Hanley Ramirez comparable for the shoulder surgery is pretty solid, so I feel good that I've taken Upton in the first round of some mocks.

paulbellows (calgary): Darvish or Price?

Will Carroll: Price. Without hesitation.

birkem3 (Dayton, OH): Will, can you elaborate on why we should ignore the health projection for Jon Lester? While he has the recovery from cancer in his background, didn't his body still have to endure more innings and pitches than it had the previous years?

Will Carroll: There's something of a loophole in the Verducci Effect. Without going into too much detail -- and yes, I'm working with some people on a deeper look at the Effect -- injury throws it off. When you look at a guy like Lester, or Yovani Gallardo, or even guys coming back from TJ, it's like the Effect looks at the year prior to the injury. No, this makes no sense to me either, unless it's the capability to throw innings that is underlying the whole thing. I'll give him some points for physical and mental toughness after cancer too, though I'll admit I'm sentimental about that.

Readers (Everywhere): Time to improve the chat feature on your site...

Will Carroll: Really? Why, is there a problem? Honestly I like our chat interface -- the backend part you don't see -- so much better than the one at ESPN. I can only hope that's improved in my time away from the WWL, not that I'll be chatting there any time soon.

Mike (Chicago): Who will pitch more innings this year, Chris Carpenter or Rich Harden?

Will Carroll: I think it's going to be really close. I'll lean to Carpenter.

matt (chi): Are the Nationals really that incompetent? Considering all of the injuries they have gone through with Shawn Hill it seems odd they'd just let him go when they don't exactly have a shutdown rotation. Wouldn't the Nationals have to consider all they've invested in Hill and realize they are better off keeping him and hoping their medical investments pay off? It seems stupid to pay for all of his medical work and then just let him go.

Will Carroll: There's two things at work here and I don't hate either of them. First, a healthy Hill is a transient thing that's really not all that good. Let's say HIll maxes out his PECOTA and ... wow, that's bad. 7 wins? See, even good and let's say he's 10 wins good, the Nats are still not good. I'd rather take that load off my medical staff, start building up the young guys like Zimmerman, and move on.

Rob (LA): Price, Strasburg or Kershaw?

Will Carroll: Price slightly on handedness, team context, cost, and a bit less in unknowns. I say slightly and mean razor-thin. Big gap down to Kershaw.

reader (chatville): Is there no chat that allows you to post questions without the reader needing to constantly refresh? SBNation message boards have comments pop up within a thread. I don't understand why you can't get that to work with a chat. It is quite annoying as a chat reader to be hitting refresh every 30 seconds. Chats are my favorite feature on the site so I'm not complaining but I feel like there are better ways to conduct a chat out there.

Will Carroll: I'm probably a bit out of school with this, but one of the reasons the price has never gone up here at BP for a Premium subscription is those ads you see at the top. I'm not a fan of ads, but I'm a fan of making sure that we can pay for good content and I think Dave Pease has done a great job making sure you don't have annoying ones popping up and messing with your experience here. Refreshing the chats is another ad. Like I said, I like the experience here better than ESPN. SBN's is ok, though I'll be honest, I wouldn't trade ours for that.

BT (Chicago): Chances of Nick Johnson getting 400 AB's this year? 10 percent? Lower?

Will Carroll: Higher. Injury risk isn't linear, but it's closer than many think. Given a reasonably healthy offseason and what we know about the wrist problem, things look good. I'm just not sure if he can go more than half a season without something breaking. It's got to be something genetic.

Ben F (California): In the Jay's THR you mention that a team would be smart to could designed a 4 man rotation around Halliday ...I'm intrigued. Are any teams likely to create a 4 man rotation? In this day and age all teams have a 5 man rotation, but not all are good about pitch counts. Are teams worried about the wrong thing?

Will Carroll: I dont see a four-man on the horizon, which is sad. Some teams have talked about it, but none have instituted any sort of development program that would lead to it. No team uses any sort of logical progression to their development, which to me is the one inexplicable thing in the game. If you want to bench press 200 lbs, few of us would just go throw 200 on the bar and expect to get it back up. You work up to it. Pitchers don't get asked to get to 200 innings by working up to it in most cases. Why?

hanjna (ct): will, love your work with BP and FO. would you have concerns about nolascos durability if you ran the marlins medical staff?

Will Carroll: A lot, since I'd be a bad choice for running a medical staff. As is, I'm concerned, but not panicked by any stretch. Nolasco's new pitch seems to be holding up, as does his arm.

YD (Philly): Any word on Smoltzie's pitching session? How are the odds that he returns to form sometime this season?

Will Carroll: He hit the goal. 40 fastballs from a mound. It's a nice milestone that has him on track for a May return. It's a bit wiggly on when he'll be on a major league mound. I'd figure on a normal course of rehab starts in May, maybe late April.

Kevin (LA): How is it that pitchers regularly threw over 300 innings 30 years ago but now 200 is considered a "ceiling?"

Will Carroll: Easy. Five-man rotation. Don Drysdale threw 300 over 42 starts in 65. CC Sabathia got 250 on 35 and he only got that many because he was going on "short rest" a couple times. A four-man rotation would give us a lot more 200 inning guys and get rid of the lousy fifth starters. The *ONLY* argument against four-man is fatigue and it can be designed in a way that would actually reduce fatigue. I used to say some team would try it and get a big advantage. I'm less sure now that it will happen again, but there's no good reason why.

Ira (North Texas): You talk about a 4 man rotation. But is there any chance we could see a return of the 4+ man rotation that Atlanta used in the 90's. a 4 man rotation would theoretically see 4 starters making 40-41 starts apiece. our current 5 man rotations have 5 starters each starting 32-33 games. a 4+ rotation, or 5 day rotation would have 4 starters start 36 games and a fifth man who starts 18 games. Plus, everyone always starts on 4 days rest except the swing man, who goes in and out of the rotation only when there are no off-days. You can even split that swing role between 2 or three long relievers, especially if those long relievers are of the Earl Weaver sort. young guys pitching their way into the rotation.

Will Carroll: To continue beating this dead horse, yes, Ira, that makes perfect sense and no, I dont think we'll see it anytime soon. Bil Burke is doing some research that seems to indicate that the important part of the equation that we've been missing is rest.

Jonathan (New York): The 2006 White Sox went all year with 5 starters, no? Seems familiar.

Will Carroll: Sounds right.

DS (LA): Hi Will, thanks for the chat. Which of the following will rack up the most innings and allow the fewest runs over the next three years: Lackey, Beckett, Halladay? Which of the three will stay the healthiest? Thanks!

Will Carroll: Fewest runs? That's a pretty specific non-injury question that I'll pass on. Innings? Halladay. Healthiest? Probably Halladay. I think he's this year's Sabathia, dealt to a contender who'll ride him hard.

cjb (madison, wi): What is your opinion on Fowler long term? Lead off man extraordinaire, more pop develops to be a 3 or 5 guy or somewhere lower than?

Will Carroll: First someone mistakes me for PECOTA, now you think I'm Kevin Goldstein.

lamarooski (DC): Is crawford a good injury discount player, or should i be looking at the 19 games he missed in 07 and thinking twice?

Will Carroll: I haven't seen any discount on Crawford in the leagues I'm in. I like him.

Rob (Brighton): I took Chipper Jones in the second round of my fantasy draft (first one ever). Am I going to look like a genius or a moron?

Will Carroll: Bit of both. He'll hit like a second round pick when healthy, but stock up on Maalox for the times he's not. It's hard to say anything about any individual league. I don't know your rules, your league, your opponents, your risk tolerance, your biases ... plus nothing's more boring than hearing about someone else's fantasy team.

philosofool (AZ): Are major league teams really aware of the Verducci effect and trying to take care of their young arms? Is this carrying over to their minor league systems? Sometimes what passes for taking care of a young arm looks like an accident to me, and I'm not really convinced teams are being contentious about pitcher abuse.

Will Carroll: Aware? Yes. The Mets openly talked about it with Mike Pelfrey last season. Contentious?

Jay ((NYC)): Wouldn't the pitchers rebel against a 4man rotation unless they were paid more? They'd have to pitch more often and (in their minds) take a lot more injury risk. I could envison lawsuits post-injury, for example, though it would be almost impossible to determine the cause of the injury.

Will Carroll: Until they realized the paydays that a 20-win pitcher get. I'm not saying you just dump the fifth starter on any given team and tell the first four to do more. This would take a multi-year, organizational commitment to doing it and I don't think any organization has that kind of job security any more. The A's would be the most likely. MAYBE the Yankees and MAYBE the Red Sox. Any major change requires a large measure of control or desperation. I don't see it, sadly.

Ben F (California): Thanks for the chat (should have said that before). To follow up, could a team trade for a couple guys that could make a 4 man rotation work? Maybe the yanks trade for Halliday and Webb to go with CC and Burnett?

Will Carroll: Yankees buying the world aside, the real value would be to a crappy team. I'm going to the depth charts here ... the Yankees #5 is Joba Chamberlain, who's in for a (very low) 140. The low VORP is Chien-Ming Wang at 15.0, which also seems low to me, but I'm no Clay Davenport. Subtracting 30 Wang starts and spreading them to the other four isn't going to be that big a boost. VORP per start's not really something I've ever seen analyzed. Now, on the other end of the spectrum, the Rangers have the worst projected record in the AL (really?) ... Less Matt Harrison or Scott Feldman would mean more starts distributed to their good pitchers. Now, I'm not saying it's that simple, but it's easy to see where the value is if you could get the right set of circumstances and development.

scottziegler (Beaver Dam, WI): Hey Will, what's the hubub on Cahill and Anderson? How many innings would they be looking at this season?

Will Carroll: Beaver Dam, heck yeah. Spent some summers there back in the day ... check Depth Charts, but there's good buzz on them this spring. The A's could go in so many directions, I really can't say.

rawagman (Toronto): A shout-out to the memory of BDD & THT blogger and all-around class act, John Brattain - may he rest in peace.

Will Carroll: Indeed. I didn't know John, but I can only hope that when I pass, people will say half as many good things about my work as they have about John.

Jake (Chicago): Whose "minor" injury has you most concerned?

Will Carroll: Cole Hamels. Dustin Pedroia is a close second, for the reasons I have in today's THR.

Aaron (YYZ): We often hear of the projection that a young player (e.g. an international signee like Carlos Triunfel or Wilmer Flores) will fill out, lose athleticism, and need to shift positions as he grows up while in the minors. How much of this projection comes from evidence/analysis by Medical personnel, versus speculation/experience by scouts?

Will Carroll: Almost none from the medical side. There's more input with the draft and trades for the medical team and even that varies greatly from team to team.

Max (Chetwynd): Price, Strasburg, and then a big gap down to Kershaw? Is this a health-related gap, or simply a form of the grass being greener (since we haven't really seen Price or Strasburg air it out at the Major League level yet)?

Will Carroll: Kershaw threw a lot of innings last year and while I didn't see enough of him to have anything more than a guess, I think he's about as good as he gets now. That's good, mind you, but I see more upside in the others. I'm slightly down on Kershaw, just on age and risk as well.

paulbellows (calgary): I am not sure about the Jays trading Halladay. I think there would be a fair backlash if they did. Plus I have no confidence in Ricciardi getting a good package.

Will Carroll: I think they fire Ricciardi and let Tony LaCava start the rebuilding with a couple trades.

Rob (Brighton): Alright, alright, you got me there, my fantasy team is boring. But it could be worse...Zen rock gardening. Also, do you think Buchholz will get a chance to crack the Sox rotation? Or is the depth so overwhelming that even with injuries he'd have to force himself into the conversation with a truly dominating stretch?

Will Carroll: Everyone's is, but it's not boring to you. I love Fantasy and am scared to death by the concept of playing in Tout. I think Buchholz will make starts in that Penny/Smoltz/X slot, but I'm not sure how many. What's curious is that I'm not sure if his window is closing with guys like Bowden behind him or if that Sox rotation is going to look really young in '10. Spending $10m on Beckett's option seems a no-brainer if he's healthy. Then you'd have Matsuzaka, Lester, and I'd guess Buchholza, Bowden, and Masterson competing for a couple slots and likely a free agent or two. There's no Sabathia in next year's FAs.

dianagramr (NYC): Hi Will ... thanks for the chat. If Mauer's back is cranky now, how is it going to hold up for another season on the Metrodome "turf"?

Will Carroll: Good question ... and the wrong one. Mauer actually doesn't play on the turf, for the most part. He's on that dirt area around the plate, which is softer than the turf and has a more natural give. The dirt isn't deep and certainly isn't the same as playing on grass, but it's not THAT different given the way modern turf fields are built on top of drainage systems. The big thing here is the squatting and it's affect on his SI joint.

halbent (Boston, MA): Will, love your work. Your Red Sox Team Health Report that was posted today is killing my "try not to get too excited too early" vibe about the prospects of all of the various Red Sox injuries sorting themselves out and the Sox staying in the 95 win area. Do you think they can keep all healthy enought to get back to the playoffs again, and who on the Red Sox is the player they can least afford to lose to injury for an extended period?

Will Carroll: I don't think they have to stay healthy to be at that level. They have so many options and so much flexibility that they can make it through injuries when they happen. I think Pedroia is the one that would be toughest to replace. I'm guessing that Lugo or Lowrie would shift over, but that's a big offensive loss. Ortiz's power is big to them in the absence of Manny, but I think that WCS, Lars Anderson might be able to stand-in for him and not lose as much of the Pedroia falloff. Maybe Youkilis, because he provides so much of the flexibility.

Bryan (USA): Did you injure Chad Billingsley's groin?

Will Carroll: I don't think I like your tone.

mhixpgh (Pittsburgh): What does the future hold for Tom Gorzelanny? Is he the poster child for the Littlefield era?

Will Carroll: I think the poster child has to be Bryan Bullington. I'm not sure. I'm really resisting just walking up to him at Opening Day here and explaining what I think he needs to do.

buffum (Austin TX): Is Travis Hafner truly done? He looks terribibble this spring, as if he can't get around on 88 mph. Am I being overly pessimistic, or was he a pipe dream in the first place?

Will Carroll: He's sure looked bad in spring training, but I cant tell you why and sadly, it doesn't seem like the Indians can either.

ClubberLang (Chicago): The White Sox basically went to the "4+" rotation after Contreras went down in August for the rest of the year, with a hybrid 5th of Clayton Richard and Lance Broadway depending on the matchup when the schedule "required" a 5th starter.

Will Carroll: Exactly. They could EASILY do it and given their fifth starter situation, I don't know why they dont now.

lamarooski (DC): Is David Wright's broken toe-nail from the WBC anything to be worried about?

Will Carroll: Only if you're his pedicurist or Molly Beers.

Adam (Chicago): Is there any information regarding pitchers going all out earlier than normal in the season? As a Reds fan, I'm specifically referring to Cueto during the WBC.

Will Carroll: No. USA Today did a terrible study but it used the wrong measures and didn't account for regression. We just have to wait and see. Not like Cueto put on a lot of innings.

lennyd (Portland OR): Hi Will, One of BP's axioms is that there is no such thing with as a pitching prospect. With Duchscherer hurt Oaklands' entire rotation will have no one who has completed a full season as a major league starter. Pecota has them challenging the Angels, is that realistic given the lack of experience in the rotation?

Will Carroll: How many wins did experience have last year?

jromero (seattle): Will, If you were picking starting pitchers this year who combine ace (or close) level production with comparatively low injury risk, who would be your top 5?

Will Carroll: Sabathia, Webb, Oswalt, Lackey, Meche

dianagramr (NYC): Hypothesis: Teams that move into new stadia, regardless of whether the dimensions are similar or not, stand an increased risk of injury due to lack of familiarity with the nooks/crannies/seats/etc. Am I nuts?

Will Carroll: Well ... nuts aside, the risk is minor to the home team and goes away quickly. For the visitors, it's a small increase, but I think that they trade a bit of safety for letting some balls fall in.

mhixpgh (Pittsburgh): Wither Ben Sheets?

Will Carroll: Recovering from surgery near his Dallas home. We should see him throwing sometime in May, but I don't have a good timetable for when he'll be back on an MLB mound.

Rob (LA): Meche over Halladay? Over Lincecum? Over Lowe?

Will Carroll: Halladay's had some goofy injuries, but you're right. Probably should have gone Halladay there. Yes over Lincecum because we don't know his real risk yet. We're just guessing. Definitely over Lowe.

Wendy (Madrid): If the Tigers let Porcello throw all of his pitches this year, how good could he be?

Will Carroll: Really good. His workload is the only worry.

cjb (madison, wi): "Kershaw threw a lot of innings last year and while I didn't see enough of him to have anything more than a guess, I think he's about as good as he gets now." so, you have not seen enough of kershaw, but you can just "tell" he is as good as he will be. i guess we all should be waiting for goldstein.

Will Carroll: Hey, I answered the question. You want to be a jerk about it, go read some other chat.

rawagman (Toronto): Cross-sport question - will we ever see the day when teams are required to divulge full injury details whenever significant time may be lost? Some baseball GMs are notorious for giving misleading information (Ricciradi, Beane) and the amount of "lower body injuries" in the NHL is laughable. What advantage could teams possibly get from withholding this stuff?

Will Carroll: In baseball, there's almost none. In hockey and football, it's a bit more possible to "target" an injury. We're going to see a wholesale change in the NFL this year where at least two teams will be making an utter mockery of the rules on reporting.

Meddler1 (Brooklyn, NY): I was watching an SNY talk show the other day (I forget which one) and one of the hosts said something about hearing from a Mets doctor that Maine's bone spur was the largest one he'd ever seen. Is there any truth to this, or was this just typical daytime sports-talk hot air?

Will Carroll: Haven't heard this one.

DS (LA): Thank you for answering my earlier question. Do you think Scott Lewis will hold up as a starter for the Indians? How healthy do you think he will be for the next few years?

Will Carroll: Not sure, but I don't think it's that big a concern given he's more or less a placeholder for Jake Westbrook, who should be back mid-seasonish.

Will Carroll: Thanks for all the questions. Can't wait for the start of real baseball and all the Ballpark Events we have planned this season. If you're coming to the Tout draft, be sure to say hi.

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