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A Chat With BP's Will Carroll on the Royals

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Royals Review was lucky enough to chat with the esteemed Will Carroll this morning regarding yesterday's Royals Team Health Report which included some dour thoughts on David DeJesus' shoulder, John Buck's general health and of course Sweeney's back. Still, Carroll does indeed think more DHing and less weight will help Mike, and that Reggie Sanders, though old and coming off a broken leg, is "pretty spry for an old guy".

The leading proponent of the MedHead branch of the Saber Revolution, Will Carroll is an invaluble writer for the near-essential Baseball Prospectus and the author of Saving the Pitcher. In 2005 Carroll was one of the saner voices responding in the wake of the Great Steroid Scare, and his The Juice: The Real Story of Baseball's Drug Problem remains one of the more important baseball & sports books written this decade. You can read more Carroll at The Juice Blog and at The Year of Living Chemically.

Regarding Mike Sweeney you write, "obviously, the less he plays in the field, the fresher his chronic back will be". Does DHing provide any positive benefit (i.e. is sitting on the bench & chatting with Buddy Bell really "rest") or is it just a matter of cutting down on his diving, falling, lunging etc?

WC:Yes, the change is significant. First, he's not standing which stresses the back and the knees. Keeping him from adding any stress or accidents at first is another big benefit. A player moving to DH from 1B - a pretty standard move - decreases his risk of injury by nearly 20% in Sweeney's age bracket. As for talking with Buddy Bell, I cannot speak to the benefits!

Runelyvs Hernandez is fat. Is this a problem?

WC:So's Bartolo Colon, David Wells, and Felix Hernandez. Blisters on the pitching hand (Affeldt)? Still mostly incurable?

WC:Here's the thing -- they're preventable, if not so easily cured. BP's own Rany Jazayerli is a dermatologist and a Royals fan. I know Allard Baird has his phone number, so why not bring him in and take the problem more seriously? Affeldt's problem isn't so much the blisters as staying healthy when he doesn't have them.

You've listed David DeJesus' shoulder as "vulnerable", which seems scary considering how little we appear to know about them (Bagwell?). Can you say more about how long-term this problem may be? Considering the Royals are playing for nothing in '06, is there a chance the team should be a little more cautious?

WC:There's a period after any injury where it's more likely to recur. They put bones in casts to keep things from being reinjured and people on crutches to remove weightbearing. DeJesus is in that period where he's "healthy" and "functional," but far from 100%. That's a very dangerous time. Long term, assuming no setbacks, he should be fine. We're getting better with shoulders.

Finally, a general question, vaguely in the spirit of Dusty Baker: It gets hot in Kansas City. Is it your sense that this hurts the overall health/recovery of the team over the course of the season? Put another way, do the dome teams/northern teams gain any real advantage with a milder summer or is this merely drowned out by so many other factors?

WC:I don't think it's that big a factor. Sure, heat sucks the life out of you, so in that sense, fatigue is a factor. The players should be acclimated and in condition --- and that's the problem. Sometimes they're not and we blame the heat. It's tempting to oversimplify. I don't have good information to quantify this in any way -- do players get injured more in certain weather conditions? -- but in the broadest sense, it doesn't appear to be a significant problem.