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Chat: Will Carroll

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday May 14, 2009 1:00 PM ET chat session with Will Carroll.


Whether it's injuries on the diamond or the gridiron, or action on any field (grass, ice, turf, you name it), Will Carroll's ready to take your questions.

Will Carroll: Don't take this as a complaint, because I'll never complain about this job. That said, with my policy of answering emails, comments, and Twitter, chats seem superfluous to me. I've always been strongly against long marathon chats -- I think you'd rather I be out working to get info for UTK -- but as long as you ask questions (and click refre$h), I'll keep doing chats. So I'll chat as long as this Romeo y Julieta takes to burn down.

steve (indianapolis): Hey Will...what was the best thing about the Great American Ball Park experience in early April?

Will Carroll: The park or getting into the press box/clubhouse? It's a really great press box. While Rob Butcher and I don't agree on access for Internet writers, he and his staff have done a phenomenal job for years. As for the park, it's better and Phil Castellini is taking pride in the club's incremental changes. Small things, like red panels over the exposed concrete, make a big difference. Now they just need to win.

wallstreet2 (Utica, NY): I've been reading the updates on BJ Ryan's comeback/rehab trail in the minors. They say he is pitching fine, but there is nary a mention of his velocity...The velocity that has us all concerned. Have you heard or seen anything to give us a clue?

Will Carroll: Still low. I haven't heard about him getting past 90 and even that report was prefaced with "fast gun."

Vanasek (New York): Will, I hate to interject with a basketball question, but I was wondering what your take on Kevin Garnett's knee injury? Swelling, locking and stiffness are all symptons not causes and aside from the odd article mentioning bone spurs or a strained popliteus tendon (whatever that is), nobody outside of the team seems to know what is the problem and what his short and long-term prognosis. Keep up the great work. - Jim -

Will Carroll: What a setup ... I'll be talking about this on Bill Simmons' podcast. (Is a podcast "top rated" or a "blockbuster"?) Bill tells me it will be up today and when it is, I'll put a link in Unfiltered. It's a strained popliteus with some avulsion at the femur. Short term is terrible, longer term is mixed. Lot more on this in the podcast, including Bill schooling me on why Garnett will definitely be back.

Dan Pawson (Boston, MA): Uh, is "kidney procedure" the new slang for superdupersteroids, or did Joe Mauer just decide to stop messing around and become Mike Piazza?

Will Carroll: I traded him in Tout.

No, really it's just the normal small-sample variations you'll see in any two week period for almost any player. Juan Pierre is tearing it up in Manny Ramirez's absence, but it doesn't make him a great player. Mauer *is* a great player and he's on one of those runs that you just sit back and enjoy.

jtrichey (Indianapolis): Will, we have heard for years that wrist injuries sap power for months after the player returns. Is this true, or another axiom that got repeated so much but is really false? Orlando Hudson is the man I'm wondering about. He has had no trouble this year.

Will Carroll: It's definitely true. KG talked about it in a recent article, referencing how developmentally, teams give guys coming back from wrist injuries a "mulligan." Hudson's healthy and playing above his normal level, but power? Eh, he has 3 HR, which isn't so many that randomness can't be the answer. It's much harder to tell on guys with normally low power than it is for the David Ortiz types.

Valverde (TX): Houston has an awful team. Will Valverde be healthy enough to be traded at the deadline? If so, F. Paulino as closer? I understand he only has two pitches.

Will Carroll: I'm really curious about this. McLane doesn't seem to understand that his team is bad and there's no minor league system. Could Valverde bring in enough in trade to help re-stock it? Good question. It's interesting that there's almost no trade noise here in mid-May, so no idea what the deadline market will be like.

SnakeDoctor18 (New York): Hey Will, I've recently noticed the publicity of a couple players with anxiety disorders (i.e. Zack Greinke, and Dontrelle Willis), the fact of the matter is there are millions of Americans with anxiety disorders. Do you think this recent "coming out" of players with anxiety issues will spark more and more players to voice the same concerns about their mental state? I just think its interesting because mental health problems can be as debilitating as physical health problems but are almost never mentioned in the media involving MLB; I doubt that is because these problems are not occurring among professional baseball players.

Will Carroll: As someone who dealt with panic attacks for years (and wouldn't have written this column without them), I understand what they're going through. I'm curious because what Willis has said publicly has been opposed to the diagnosis. Is that him denying it and "manning up?" or is the team finding some way to stash him on the DL? (I think it's more the former.) I wish more players would be open with these types of conditions, depression, ADHD, but I also understand why they're not.

Jon (Missouri): Dude, BP Idol? What's the deal?

Will Carroll: Well ... I'll apologize again for the lateness. I've honestly had to go back and re-read all 500+ entries because I'd forgotten, so all entrants got two reads from me. We're having a conference call today on it.

Jake (Seattle): Hey, Will. Thanks for the chat. I hate to ask, but do we know that B.J. Upton is physically okay? He's seeing crazy amounts of fastballs and can't seem to catch up to 92 down the middle. Is this part of the expected recovery period? I feel like he's had enough at bats that we can't use 'extended spring training' as an excuse any longer.

Will Carroll: I do think his bat looks slow and that the shoulder is the easy excuse. Thing is, Hanley Ramirez didn't have this problem. Was Upton's damage/surgery more extensive? Possible. Is he just a slower healer? Possible. I don't think Steve Phillips is right that he's a fluke.

Jacob (The Island): do you watch Lost? what did you think of the Finale?

Will Carroll: Great, frustrating show. I don't have any more idea what's going on today than I did Wednesday. My pal Jason Snell of MacWorld insists that the writers know what they're doing, but there's so many things thrown in that SEEM like deus ex machina that it feels thrown together. (I don't think it is.) It would be nice to have some sort of answer, somewhere, sometime.

shamah (NYC): Anything on Adam Jones's injury? He was pulled last night for tightness in his hamstring.

Will Carroll: See the comments of today's UTK.
(This is why I said what I said in the opening. It also speaks to the idea of an aggregator somewhere, like a FriendFeed, that could collect all the things I do.)

YD (Philly): Hiya, Will. Is what we're seeing now with A-Rod just a "getting re-acclimated to the majors" period, or more a "this is what we can expect for the rest of the year" kind of thing? The occasional flash of power, coupled with a relatively poor average...

Will Carroll: IT HAS BEEN A WEEK. Do you decide anything about any player at any time in the course of a week? BP is going to have to start coming with a warning. Some sites say "Did you read the FAQ?"; we should say "Did you consider sample size?"

BL (Bozeman): Thanks for the chat, Will. You mentioned a few days ago that you don't have a good feeling about Soria's shoulder injury. Have you changed or refined you opinion? Could you expound some?

Will Carroll: I'm coming off old and grumpy today.
I say everything I know. I don't hold back on ANYTHING other than protecting my sources. So no, I haven't changed or learned anything new, or it would be in the column. It's impingement syndrome and I never feel good about that. And if anyone says "there's no such thing as impingement syndrome", you're really going to see grumpy.

J.P. (Hartford): Isn't all this talk fo the Nationals putting Strasburg right into the rotation crazy? He's thrown a ton of innnings/pitches in a shorter season. He shouldn't throw another pitch this year, correct?

Will Carroll: A) He'll be their best starter from the second he's drafted.
B) His pitch counts/workload has been very reasonable and the team doesn't figure to go deep in the CWS.
C) What does taking six months off do for him? Is it good, bad, or unknown? I don't like two of those possibilities.
D) If you're Strasburg/Boras, don't you want him in the majors as soon as possible to start the service clock?
E) For a team that's already being questioned by their fan base, what heat do they take if they shut him down?

If this drags on to August, then I think they shut him down and maybe we see him in the AFL. I do think they'll be very cognizant of his workloads no matter when he gets to DC.

YD (Philly): Wow, sorry man, didn't mean to offend you.

Will Carroll: No offense taken, but your question just was the one handy to demonstrate the point. Once again, this is the problem of baseball analysis -- it's a lot easier and sports-talk friendly to make snap judgements, but it's not the right way to make a decision. I'd rather be right.

BL (Bozeman): Can you explain impingement syndrome, please?

Will Carroll: I'll do you one better: http://www.kerlanjobe.com/index.php~practiceId=1052&dir=categories&lib=Bodyzone&categoryId=180.html#

buffum (Austin TX): Grady Sizemore is 5-for-11 in stolen bases and is otherwise in an extended slump. He looks okay in the outfield, but could there be something in the strained hamstring vein that the Indians aren't mentioning in public?

Will Carroll: I have no evidence for this, but I guess it's possible.

chuckstein17 (Long Beach, NY): Your answer to Lost is a common sentiment, but reminds me of the New York media or radio callers over reactions to David Wright. I don't want to spoil but they answered a bunch of questions last night. They just opened a few new ones.

Will Carroll: I'd LOVE to hear this ... in an email.

Aaron (YYZ): Will, is it easier or harder to get injury information about minor league players?

Will Carroll: Harder in that there's so many teams and no organized collection of info, plus I don't follow it closely. Like everyone else, I just read KG. I don't have the source network down there because I haven't built it, but I think if asked, I could get the info on any player. I've covered baseball, football (NCAA and pro), hoops, hockey, EPL ... I'm pretty confident in my ability to get info on injuries.

Jake (Seattle): Thanks, Will - a followup on Upton if you don't mind. Does an injury like he had tend to be a chronic problem or is the surgery supposed to be a 'once and for all' solution? Also, what kind of strengthening exercises does a player do after that surgery? And....forgive the most likely ignorant premise...but wouldn't he benefit from weighing more than like 79 pounds or whatever he weighs?

Will Carroll: Surgery should correct the underlying problem, but the changes and the recovery often make it seem like it didn't. My shoulder was never the same after my first cuff tear and it's still damaged, even after three surgeries. I'll pass on the rehab -- I'm not a PT and the answer is extensive. I'll suggest Googling for "Thrower's 10", which is similar, but intended for pitchers. Also, check out ASMI's web site for more on that. And weight? Well, he's wiry and he's been pretty successful at that weight.

blaseta (Calgary): FYI, your podcast with Simmons is now up on ESPN. I'm listening to it right now. Listening to you describe Garnett's injury I've realized that I just injured the exact same thing on Monday (my physiotherapist told me the name of the tendon but it meant nothing to me until now), I'm getting more and more flustered the more you describe the problem.

Will Carroll: Oh, there you go. I guess it's up now. Flustered? Like the big words are turning you on? I know Simmons loves the big words. It was a ton of fun doing that. I've read Bill since he was BSG and "known" him since 2005, but that was actually the first time we've ever spoken.

shamah (NYC): Due respect, there was nothing in today's UTK about Jones's injury when I read it. You now have a comment about it in the comments section, but I don't always read the comments religiously. Keep up the good work though!

Will Carroll: I didn't have any good info on Jones. As I said in the comment, it's tough to get good solid info overnight on a muscle strain and you guys don't pay to read my guesses. Believe me, I hate being wrong more than anything, so when I don't say something on an injury, it's because I don't know yet.

don (lansing, MI): Will, anything wrong with ricky nolasco? I know his elbow has a history...

Will Carroll: There would be if my foot was in the same area code as his butt ... no, that's the fantasy owner in me talking. No, not that I'm aware, and believe me, I've asked. I'm about a half-step shy of pulling a Walker and going down there.

Eli (Brooklyn): Other than bad luck plus a lot of age, should we be reading anything into the Yankees' epidemic of injuries? Also, any word on IPK?

Will Carroll: Kennedy had his surgery. I think he's done for the year.
Yankees are having a ton of injuries, for which there's no pattern or underlying reason. I hate to say bad luck, but I think that's the best explanation I have.

mattstupp (NYC): What do you see happening with Billy Wagner this year? (How likely do you think it is for him to return to the majors, when do you think that might be, how do you think he'll perform, how carefully will he need to be used?)

Will Carroll: This is going to be interesting. Wagner's been ahead of pace and if he comes back, wouldn't he be a good eighth inning guy? Or seventh, if Putz turns it around? Question is when will he be ready and we won't have a good handle on that until around the ASB.

Joe (CO): Why don't you go to med school or something?

Will Carroll: Lack of qualifications?

Alexi (NJ): Top 3 OF in the game starting next year: Upton, Markakis, Braun?

Will Carroll: Which Upton? I'd put Bay and Manny in there.

redsoxin2004 (Columbia, CT): Do you see anything in Strasburg's mechanics that would make you cautious about his durability? With a very few rare exceptions, guys that throw that hard simply don't have long careers.

Will Carroll: He is a pitcher and therefore risky. I would not draft him, or any other pitcher, without a complete independent physical. ("Scott, you can choose from Andrews, ElAttrache, or Meister.") That said, he's a guy who is very literally without comparables.

Aaron (YYZ): What's up with Joey Votto, his dizziness just sounds scarier than it is?

Will Carroll: Dehydration. A bad combo of flu and the desert.

goiter6 (MN): Any word on when Derek Holland may be moving into the Rangers' rotation?

Will Carroll: No, but I wouldn't count on it being soon. I'm also not sure how you stretch him out -- longer relief stints? Send him back to Oklahoma?

Matt (Chicago): Will -- has anyone conducted a study of whether there is a greater chance of injuries to players when baseball teams go a long period of time without an off day? From a purely anectdotal standpoint, the Cardinals and Cubs each had some injury setbacks in the midst of 20 consecutive games (although the Cards had a rainout in D.C. that broke up the consecutive games stretch).

Will Carroll: I've never seen it. It's theoretically possible to do, but with the five years I have in my database, I don't think you could get a meaningful answer.

rawagman (Toronto): No offense taken, but twitter has not yet hit critical mass. In fact, I would hazard a guess that the majority of those who would be interested in the things you tweet(?) do not even have the hardware to access it.

Will Carroll: It was on Oprah. I'll buy that most of my tweets aren't interesting, but you're saying that subscribers to a website don't have the hardware to access a website?

In case you are interested ... http://twitter.com/injuryexpert

Sky (DC): Speaking of Greinke, where does he stand with his anxiety issues? Any change from last year to this one, or is his improvement 100% physical and strategic, and not mental-health related?

Will Carroll: Aside from Joe Posnanski's SI article, I haven't seen it discussed. After the beating I took from a comment I made about it in the spring, I won't address it either. It's his condition and he's free to talk about it or not talk about it.

Rob (Alaska): As a fantasy guy, I'm wondering what your take on Garrett Atkins is. This isn't exactly sabermetrically correct, but I'm getting a bit of a Morgan Ensberg vibe on him - late bloomer, short peak, rapid decline. He's never been terribly athletic. Is this a common player development curve?

Will Carroll: Am I still a fantasy guy, even though my Tout team sucks? (I'm midpack with the same strategy in the CBS Experts League!) Anyway, yeah, I actually like that comp. So does PECOTA (#3), so I can't give you points for originality, dawg. You gotta work on your artistry ... wait, sorry, slipped into Idol mode.

Henry (NJ): Has the prognosis on Aramis Ramirez been updated at all? I've heard August being thrown out there...that's, what, 12 weeks away. Is the separation really that bad?

Will Carroll: It was a dislocation, not a separation. Ok, demo ... cup one hand, kind of shallow, like a crescent more than a "C". Make a fist with the other and put it in the cupped hand. That's your shoulder. If the fist moves up to the edge of the cup and pops back down, that's a separation. When it comes completely out of the cup and a doctor has to come PHYSICALLY MANIPULATE THE ARM until it pops back in, that's a dislocation and yes, it's as painful as it sounds.

Now, the dislocation is over. It's back in joint. The real problem is what damage did it do? I'll refer you back to UTK for that explanation.

jimnabby (Santa Monica): Will, Carlos Delgado was just dropped in my fantasy league. Can I expect him to be his regular self when he returns?

Will Carroll: I think he's worth a gamble, but that hip is problematic. Could you live with him missing time every so often or even a DL slot?

Delmon Young's Mom (Minny): Will, is it too early to call my son a bust? He was regarded as the best prospect in baseball a few years ago.

Will Carroll: He's in the majors, but yeah, he seems to have been vastly overrated. I'm sure the scouts will say it was makeup, but he was being raved about and we all knew about those issues.

And the guy pounding questions about BP Idol? Quit it. I've given you all I know. You think we're waiting to inform people because we're cruel? Heck *I* don't know who the finalists are yet ...

xbenn3000 (Brooklyn, NY): We need a BP iphone app to aggregate all your info, Will. How do you think Carpenter will hold up once he returns? Was the oblique strain - and time off - a positive or negative in terms of his injury risk?

Will Carroll: I completely agree on the former. Any programmers out there wanna help?
I don't think an oblique strain is ever good. I think he'll be good, not great, but have some real questions about his ability to stay healthy. If there's any good is that it does take a bit of fatigue out of the equation, but he also has to build back stamina, so it's probably a wash.

TheFont9 (Boston): Joe, has there been any word on Troy Glaus?

Will Carroll: He's working out with his own trainer in Arizona, so there's just no way to get info on it.

rsambrook (Vancouver): Any thoughts on Pat Venditte? Does a switch pitcher worry you from an injury perspective?

Will Carroll: No, he's actually a real problem since you can't treat him as two pitchers. It's the same legs. The back/core has to go two directions. It's an incredibly complex issue. Id KILL to see what the joint loads are. I've only seen the highlights of him pitching, so don't know enough about him to comment on mechanics, but he's getting real pro hitters out, so it's more than a gimmick.

Alex (Fargo, ND): Which Upton do you prefer?

Will Carroll: Justin, but just on age. BJ's older and will cost more, sooner. I think Justin might have a bit more upside, but I don't think it's a Tony/Chris situation.

Dave Glass (Clearfield, PA): Will, hockey question: did you get any inside dope on Gonchar's knee injury? TSN reported him done for the year, but clearly that was untrue. This whole 'withhold-all-injury-info' deal the NHL has going on is frustrating - about as frustrating as having 2 Game 7's and only 1 network allowed to broadcast.

Will Carroll: Here's why they don't: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwxTrxESWjI
It can be targeted in hockey (and football), as it was there.

Gavin (County Ct.): Could Chris Davis end up like a Russell Branyan type? Why not call up Smoak and improve their team right now?

Will Carroll: Sample size.
Wasn't it about two months ago that Davis flew past my bidding limit at Tout? Wasn't it this time last year when people were calling for Davis to be up?

Ethan (Berkshire County): How much longer do Buc's fans have to suffer through the wilting Moss with "The Franchise" Andrew McCutchen ready to rise?

Will Carroll: If McCutchen is the franchise, there's problems. He's good, yes, but if you put a slider in a police lineup, he probably couldn't recognize it. I think PECOTA has him right with Shannon Stewart.

Nick (NYC): Will - you are the choosen mediator by a long shot so please help! Who blinks first - Rasmus for Reyes (NYM)? Realize it would never happen - thanks for your help.

Will Carroll: What am I mediating? The Mets wouldn't consider this one. I'd think the Cardinals would have to, given their OF depth and that Khalil Greene isn't exactly lighting things up. There's about ten players, max, that I would even consider dealing Reyes for, straight up.

Nick (Portland): Hey Will, The Mariners reported that Erik Bedard has been scratched from his next start with a hamstring problem. Is this somehow related to weakness in his arm, a random pitcher injury, or an example of an injury prone pitcher getting hurt?

Will Carroll: Working on this one, but early word is random with a touch of prone.

madwizard (Bangkok): Do you think Tampa Bay screwed up by failing to get Jason Bay last year? He would have been a good fit in right field, a good 3-5 right handed hitter they need and he is cost effective. While at the same time it would be sticking it to the Red Sox.

Will Carroll: In retrospect, probably. At the time of the deal, it's understandable and fits with their process.

DaveKavanagh (Dublin, Ireland): Hi, Will. Thanks for the chat. I think that you mentioned before that you had done some consultancy work for an English PL team; are you still involved with that? And do you have any idea whether Fernando Torres' hamstring problems are behind him?

Will Carroll: Yes I am, though with the end of the season coming, my situation might change. I don't have a new blue jersey today, so we'll see ...
As for Torres, yes, he should be fine by the open of next season and having a healthy Torres or Garrard, much less both, could be the difference between first and second for Liverpool.

MentalMendoza (Detroit): Regarding your earlier comment on ADHD ... what is your take on the reported surge in the number of MLB players who have received therapeutic exceptions for ADHD-treating drugs? Is this the new wave of "PEDs" that baseball will soon need to grapple with?

Will Carroll: The "surge" puts them at something like 8%. If you look at my twitter stream, a friend of mine who works in HR looked up the general population rates of diagnosed ADHD and MLB was just slightly higher. Given the age and the all-male population, I'd say it's reasonably close to what we'd expect.

And no, I don't believe properly used ADHD drugs are an advantage. Like painkillers or Tommy John surgery, it gets someone back to health. I've used modafinil, now used for ADHD but indicated for apnea (so I was legal ...), and while it was amazing, it made me awake, not better.

As for the next wave, it's things like SARMs, insulin, or such now and then we'll deal with stem cells and genetic doping within ten years.

Bits_of_Real_Panther (Portland OR): Any news on Jed Lowrie's wrist?

Will Carroll: Gonna be a while before we get anything on that one. He's only a couple weeks post surgery. I'll assume he's on schedule. Next milestone will be some kind of baseball activities.

Craig (NY): Better odds of making the playoffs: Blue Jays or Yankees.

Will Carroll: You could check the Playoff Odds page ...

Dufftone (Los Angeles): In the unlikely event that California (or some other state) goes through with legalizing marijuana, how would that effect baseball's drug testing policy?

Will Carroll: It wouldn't. Marijuana doesn't trigger a suspension in MLB.

Will Carroll: Ok, better than 90 minutes and I get the sense from the questions that you guys want us to get to work on Idol. See you next time.

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