When I told Will Carroll that I was going to create this blog and would, in the future, contact him for something like this. Will said without delay that he'd be glad to. He's always been like a mentor/big-brother to me and always extended his help or allowed me to pick his brain, if I had a question. He's also helped me with future ideas that will surely be used.
Jake Larsen; With how the steroid scandal hitting the Yankees top player and all the backlash, do you think this will have a positive or adverse effect on Alex's performance or the Yankees W-L record? Could this blow up any more(Selena Robert's book, Yuri speaks, etc.)?
Will Carroll: No, this team is used to the coverage and will it by any worse than the divorce/Madonna stuff has been? I can't imagine either Rodriguez or the Yankees being too affected by anything foreseeable.
Jake: MLB teams have gone almost out of their way to prevent starting pitchers from playing in the WBC, but position players and relievers are basically left alone. With a pitcher like JP Howell, soft-tossing and actually having a descreased inning count from '07 to '08, will the WBC cause any problems for him?
Will:No, I think it's the starters that are the issue and it's fast becoming the Arizona Fall League. Now, that could have some unintended positives for the WBC, like exciting 10-9 games. The casual fans won't know how many players aren't there.
Jake: Within the medical world, is there any new procedures that will decrease the recovery time from players who have undergone Tommy John Surgery or Labrum surgeries?
Will: Those? No, but there's some exciting new things like PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injections and everyone raving about the possibilities of new stem cell research, especially the recent study that regrew muscle.
Jake: As somewhat of a Rays fan, what were your thoughts on the magical 2008 season? Thoughts on the Rays offseason?
Will: It made me a fan again. I was living and dying with every pitch, screaming along with David Price's success and aching when Kaz got hosed by the ump. I think the offseason was solid - they didn't NEED to do much, the Burrell signing seems solid, though I have some concern about him in the clubhouse, but the team gets better, younger, and deeper on its own.
Jake: I've been a big proponent for the Rays trading Carl Crawford before he walks and replacing him with Fernando Perez until Desmond Jennings or another outfield prospect is ready. With Perez's solid glove, blazing speed, plate discipline and switch-hitting ability, is there a significant drop-off in production from the LF?
Will: Yes. Crawford could be a superstar and Perez could be a good OF someday, but there's a big difference. The thing to remember here is just how close the AL East is. Even just a small dropoff could be the difference between another October of baseball and watching USF football.
Jake: With the immense upside of David Price and Jeff Niemann's probable easy conversion to long-relief duties, and Mitch Talbot's "stuff", does Jason Hammel have anything positive going for him for a long-term future with the Rays?
Will: I'm not sure about "easy" conversion. Hammel's a nice guy to have around, but I'm sure that he or Niemann will get traded before Opening Day. Well, relatively sure. The construction of the bullpen is still the biggest unknown on the team.
Jake; Between Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden and Carlos Marmol, who is the most likely to be healthy and who is the most likely to see significant time on the doctor's table with Dr. Andrews or Dr. Yocum?
Will: None of the above? I think Harden will continue to have minor injuries that will cost him starts, but Zambrano's the one I think will break down. Marmol ... not sure yet, but him being in the WBC has to really worry the Cubs.
Jake: With the AL East how it is(Yankee's freespending again and Boston "re-tooling") and the Cubs' frequent shutdowns in the playoffs, who is the more likely team to reach the World Series between the Rays and Cubs?
Will: If likely is odds, it's the Cubs. They have a pretty weak division and an easy schedule. The Rays could win 95 and miss the playoffs. Once there, who knows? The playoffs are a crapshoot. For me, I think the Cubs have to win now, especially with new ownership.
Jake: Do the White Sox have any shot at doing any damage in the AL Central? If not and they only win 73 games, as projected by Baseball Prospectus, are heads gonna roll and will Ozzie/Kenny be looking for new jobs?
Will: Sure, look at last year where they made PECOTA look bad. They have the same kind of potential. Remember, we're talking about probabilities. If they stay healthy, if the Indians fall apart again, if someone steps up, etc etc, then anything CAN happen. It's just that the most likely outcome based on what we know now and project is 73 wins.
Jake: Bigger Wild Card: Dayan Viciedo, Aaron Miles or Wily Aybar?
Will: Viciedo. There's such a range of opinions about where he is, from a weak Double-A guy to an MLB star. With Aybar and Miles, we pretty much know who they are.
Jake: Will any team in the AL West compete with the LA Angels of Anaheim?
Will: Yeah, I think the A's if they're healthy and the Rangers could be ... could be, I say ... a Rays style jump. I think the Rangers are more Rays 07 than 08, but there's that chance that things come together a year early - that Andrus is ready, that the pitching holds together, that Young/Kinsler/Hamilton is just murderous. I really don't like the Angels aside from their starters, which of course is like saying "I don't like Bar Rafaeli aside from her body."
Jake:If the Giants somehow signed Manny Ramirez, are they the team to beat in the NL West?
Will: No. PECOTA makes me wonder if he's worth the money for either the Giants or the Dodgers. Probably on non-baseball levels (tickets,
jerseys) he is.
Jake; Is Tim Lincecum and his unorthodox pitching motion something baseball cannot explain and should watch his probable long career in awe and amazement?
Will: No, it's pretty easily explained, but yes, watch and be awed. It's special.
Jake: Biggest Sleeper in 2009, team-wise and player-wise?
Will: Team? I think the Brewers could be a lot better than expected, but I'm a bit less convinced without Mike Maddux there and I don't think they can catch the Cubs. Player? I think both Uptons are undervalued, but not sure either is a sleeper. I think people are undervaluing Chipper Jones too. Nelson Cruz?
Jake: Adrian Gonzalez has amazing power, even if he plays in power-killing parks like Petco Park and has an occasional series in Pac Bell and Pro Player. If he was to get signed by an AL East team, when he hits free agency, could he hit 50-60 HRs?
Will: 50? Maybe if he's in Coors without the humidor in play. That's a lot. What won the HR title last year, 39? He's not a free agent until 2012, past his peak, so I'll say no.
Jake: Should we expect anything HUGE out of you in 2009?
Will: I'm sure something will happen.
Jake: Over/Under: 3rd Place Finish for Rays in 2009.
Will: Over. I think they finish second when Boston falls under the weight of
Jake: Is there any more of an annoying song than Steve Goodman's "Go Cubs Go"?
Will: Oh god yes. Have you never heard any of the crap from High School Musical?
Jake: Final Thoughts?
Will: I'm pretty sure that I would fail a caffeine test right now.