Will Carroll, author of several works (including The Juice: The Real Story of Baseball's Drug Problems), a Senior Writer for Baseball Prospectus (where he writes the must-read "Under The Knife" column and reports on trade deadline activity in "Will's Mill"), and friend of Jenn Sterger, recently spent some time answering some questions about the Dodgers' injury situation and his take on what's really happening in Chavez Ravine.
SoSG: As usual (in our post-Beltre world), third base appears to be a black hole for the Dodgers. Any insight on what we can expect from Nomar Garciaparra and Andy LaRoche and their respective injuries?
Will Carroll: Garciaparra's hand isn't good, but neither is it bad. It should remind Torre, Colletti, or whoever's making decisions today that Garciaparra isn't going to hold up as a regular and that if he's to have value, he has to be protected. The LaRoche injury is one of those fluke things that costs him development time or even the chance to have eased into the role in some share with NG. Now, who knows.
SoSG: How do you see the OF situation working out? Is Juan Pierre one of "Joe's Kind of Guys" and, therefore, get ABs to the detriment of Ethier/Kemp? Is there a definite platoon that you can see making sense?
Carroll: I think Jones falling into their lap confused them. Pierre having no market also surprised them, I think. Leaves them with four guys who "have" to start.
SoSG: As former catcher, please give us assurances that Joe Torre will find ways to keep Russell Martin fresh! Other than interleague opportunities to DH, how else can the Dodgers keep from burning out this asset?
Carroll: He's always done very well with Posada, though he seems perfectly willing to have a poor quality backup. Giving him a day off here or there, finding pitchers he matches up poorly against or finding a backup C who has a strength Martin doesn't -- or at least does something differently, so he can give a reason -- would be solid. I'm not terribly worried about Martin's workload, aside from the quicker wearing down over a career. I'm not sure Torre should worry so much about that; his job is to win now.
"Billingsley could be pushed back to the pen by June if Kuroda is what the Dodgers think he is."
SoSG: Any further insights on Jeff Kent's condition? Is it something where the team would be better off putting him on the DL to heal, or will it be one of those chronic, nagging things that he just has to try to play through (with the logic being that Kent at 80% is better than either Abreu or Young at 100%)?
Carroll: He's just Kent. Tends to play through them.
SoSG: Brad Penny seems to wear down every year after the ASB (last year, his ERA went from 2.39 to 3.84) and Kuroda is basically an unknown commodity. What can we expect to see from both of them this year?
Carroll: I like PECOTA on both of these. Kuroda's solid filler and takes some pressure off the back end of the rotation. I think Billingsley could be pushed back to the pen by June if Kuroda is what the Dodgers think he is, because Kuroda and Schmidt aren't going to be pushed back.
SoSG: You've written a few times suggesting that teams be creative in having their starters actually pitch in relief on what would normally be their "throwing" days between starts. Given Penny's limitations (he seems to turn into a pumpkin, or at least Hideki Irabu, after 6 innings), would the Dodgers be served to try to have a guy like Billingsley follow Penny (and, conversely, have Penny track a Billingsley or Kuroda)? Not that I expect Torre to be an innovator, but would something like this make sense for the Dodgers to try?
Carroll: Not the worst idea, though I'd rather see a two inning guy like Brazoban when healthy or even Broxton.
SoSG: ETA on Clayton Kershaw's arrival to the Show? How do you see him being used (relief/setup duty a la Johan, Liriano, Joba)? Does Kershaw have a nickname yet? Would "Kid K" work for you?
Carroll: See above, June 1 or thereabouts. Kid K? You want to name him the same thing as Kerry Wood? Bad mojo ... I like Vin Scully's "Public Enemy No. 1". Little Chuck D when he enters. . .
SoSG: I didn't know Kerry Wood had dibs on the "Kid K" nickname. You're right about bad mojo! Would "Don't Believe the Hype" be too cheeky of intro music for Kershaw?
Carroll: I like it!
SoSG: Of course, we're both dating ourselves with that Chuck D reference. Kershaw is so young, he probably only knows about Flavor Flav from that "Flavor of Love" show. Sigh.
"Not only does no one seem to know who has the strings on any given day, neither do the Dodgers."
SoSG: How long before Logan White and Kim Ng leave Chavez Ravine and run their own teams?
Carroll: Good question. Ng's very solid, but she's had chances, has filled out her resume and is sliding off people's "hot list." You don't have to be one of the guys always mentioned, but it helps to be in the conversation. White's a more interesting case. I think the confusion in the Dodgers front office isn't helping and as good a job as he's done with development and scouting, I'm not sure his resume is quite as full as Ng's and he's sliding behind guys like Mike Rizzo, AJ Hinch, and RJ Harrison.
SoSG: You've touched on front office discord. Without compromising any sources, can you elucidate a bit? The Lasorda backstabbing of DePo was pretty obvious thanks to Plaschke's articles in the Times; what's the conflict these days? Logan vs. Ned?
Carroll: It's more a McCourt thing, I think. Whoever they're listening to that day -- Logan, Ned, Tommy, Torre, some random guy in the parking lot. There's as many stories as there are possibilities, so the problem is that not only does no one seem to know who has the strings on any given day, neither do the Dodgers.
SoSG: What occurs first: Jason Schmidt pitches in a game for the Dodgers or Alyssa Milano hooks up with Chad Billingsley?
Carroll: I can't speak for Alyssa, but I think Schmidt will be reasonable this year and if he's not, we get an early look at Kershaw!
SoSG: Thanks for the insights, Will. Consider yourself an honorary Son!