A bit delayed, but a few computer problems and a heavy workload prevented me from internet access in the past couple of weeks. Nonetheless, I hope you enjoy this Q&A session.
Jake Larsen: For those Rays fans who aren't familiar with you? Could you give us a brief synopsis on who is the real Will Carroll and what a normal day in your life involves?
Will Carroll: I'm a writer with Baseball Prospectus where I write a daily column called "Under The Knife". It follows the injuries around the league and tries to help people understand the significance of injuries on the game. I also contributed to BP2007, the NY Times best-selling baseball annual. I've written two books of my own on pitching injuries and steroids, respectively. I've been the host of BP Radio for five years and contribute to ESPN for football, where I was "Medicine Man" on TV and the web last season.
A normal day involves talking with 50-75 sources while putting together my column. I have a network of sources that include doctors, team officials, and other observers. I can't say there's any set way my day goes. I do a lot of TV and radio interviews as well. Seriously, I don't sleep.
JL: On a weekly basis, I find a way to get a few questions in your chats. Sometimes I get them answered, sometimes I don't. What is the selection process during those chats? Order of questions? Relevence to the type of chat?
WC: ESPN or BP? I do a weekly chat Friday's at ESPN. Mostly, it's whatever catches my eye. I get literally thousands at ESPN and hundreds at BP, so I try to get something out there that's both useful and entertaining. There's no process -- at ESPN, I'm not a big fan of the chat software. I only see 10 questions at a time and people hammer me, repeating their question tons of times. Ive seen 30 questions in a row be the same thing.
JL: In BP's predictions column, you picked Carl Demonte Crawford to win the AL MVP award and for the Rays to finish 3rd in the division. Are the 2007 Rays the 2006 Marlins Redux? Are the Rays, in your mind, really that close to becoming a contending team?
WC: I did. I thought that there would be a number of candidates this season and figured that if the Rays got to 500, they'd notice that Crawford was a superstar. I also think this might be the year where speed is to MVP voters what RBI's were last season, with Crawford and Jose Reyes.
I don't think the Rays-Marlins comp works, bc the Marlins were a surprise. I don't think anyone should be stunned the Rays are good. They've been bad so long that they should have collected this talent. That it's all maturing at once (at least on the hitting side) is a happy coincidence. I think it the pitching comes in 2008 that the team can begin to contend in 09.
JL: Many so-called baseball analysts believe that the Rays have no depth, organizational-wise, in the pitching department and say that we've got too many OFers than we should. Is the lack of pitching depth comment moreso due a lack of research done by that analyst or do some people just run their mouth because they don't believe that the Rays have enough fans to even care?
WC: I think they DO have a lack of depth at the major league level. That said, there's a lot of prospects coming -- Nate Silver's RH prospect list looked like about half Rays, didn't it? If just half those make it, the depth won't be a problem. Do they trade an OF to get pitching? Sure, if the deal is right. You don't do it just to do it.
JL: Care to comment on the decisions made by the Rays last week, optioning McClung-Orvella-Cantu to AAA, choosing Edwin Jackson over JP Howell for the 5th spot in the rotation and releasing Miceli? Is meritocracy a good idea, giving jobs to those who earned it rather than giving jobs to players who did well in the past?
WC: I think it's a function of needing performance. I can't say it's meritocracy, just a smart baseball decision.
JL: Salas, Glover, Reyes, Stokes, Lugo, Camp and Ryu fill our bullpen. Is this bullpen any better than the bullpen that blew 60 leads last year? Does the combination of vets with some positive success in the 'pen and youngsters with immense upside make for a good season for our bullpen?
WC: Better? Should be. I like Reyes, but there's no one there that I love either. You see what works and fill in with free agents or failed starters down the line.
JL: If you were the Rays and had the #1 overall pick in the draft, who would you pick and would you try and fast-track the player to the majors?
WC: I think that pitching has to be the big concern. I'm not sure that we've seen anyone who's ready. But adding someone like David Price (I haven't seen him, so no idea) would help stock the minors and give them one more chance at having a good rotation in a couple years. I haven't seen Kevin Goldstein say that there's a stud that can't miss, that's ready to help now. So I'll leave it to the Rays scouting staff to make that decision. They've made better ones than the Pirates!
JL: Do you think that Maddon would be better suited as a Minor League Instructor or involved in Scouting/Player Development than as a manager or has he shown you enough to merit a "good manager" rating?
WC: I don't think we know enough about what managers really do or change. I haven't seen him do anything where I go "oh crap." Now, I'm not sure he's the guy to take them to the next level, but this is a young team and I don't hate having a development manger who is, himself, developing. Either it works or it doesn't and he costs a couple wins when they werent contending anyway. I think he meshes well with the front office and that's worth a lot.
JL: If Gerry Hunsicker is our Senior VP, yet all those final decisions go to Andy Friedman and Matt Silverman, what exactly is Gerry's job? Cross-reference? The real-life version of "How to be a GM of a Major League Baseball Team?"
WC: I think the latter. He's a mentor and a translator. He's done the job and knows the people. The more of that kind of guy I can get around without undermining the authority of my GM, I'm doing it. How many ex-GM's does San Diego have now -- about six?
JL: What are your thoughts on the possibility of BJ Upton filling a Chone Figgins type of Super-Utility role, being a "jack of all trades, master of none"?
WC: I like the idea, though he's seemed to settle in at 2B. Talent will find a way and no one's ever questioned his talent, just his performance. The superutility role is an interesting one and one that I love thinking about, but I don't think that Upton is going to need to do it.
JL: If you had to take a guess of the Rays W-L record at the end of the 1st Half/Entire season, what would it be?
WC: About 5-7 games under 500 at the ASB. A couple games short of 500 at the end. I think there's a solid chance that they can catch up in September. 500 is important to the team and a bunch of teams (esp Baltimore and Toronto) will be mailing it in by then.
JL: In 2006, The Rays made 4-5 trades(which is more than the total amount of trades Chuck LaMar made in the entire Lou Piniella era) which vastly improved our farm system rather than improve our on-the-field roster? Do you believe that the Rays will be involved in the trade market as much in 2007 and will they go the opposite route as last year(go for major leaguers, rather than prospects)?
WC: Depends entirely on the record and what's availability. I won't pretend to know what the organizational plan is, but I'm confident that there is one, something that puts them ahead of a lot of teams. Sticking to that, no matter whether that includes trades or not, is the smart play. I also think the Rays are smart enough to adjust if there's an offer they just can't pass up.
JL: Are there any books we should be on the look out from you in the next year?
WC: Not that I can announce yet. I'm still working on a deal for my third book. I am inviolved in BP's next non-annual, a book about pennant races that will be out in the fall.