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Interview: Will Carroll on the Mets' Team Health Report

Last week, Will Carroll and Michael Groopman released the Mets Team Health Report (THR) over at Baseball Prospectus (subscription).  The THR system assigns a colored traffic light to each player on the team, with a red light indicating the highest likelihood for injury, and a green light indicating a (relatively) clean bill of health. A yellow light is somewhere in between.

Paul Lo Duca, Pedro Martinez and Cliff Floyd received red lights. Kaz Matsui, Jose Reyes, Xavier Nady, Tom Glavine, Steve Trachsel, Aaron Heilman and Billy Wagner received yellow lights. Carlos Delgado, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Victor Diaz and Victor Zambrano received green lights.

Here is my chat with Will Caroll.

Eric Simon (ES): For those who are unfamiliar with it, can you give us a brief explanation of how the THR system works? What are its biggest strengths/weaknesses?

Will Carroll (WC): The biggest weakness I've seen this year is the lack of consistent, available minor league injury info. That causes it to miss a lot of things, especially for pitchers. There's also a lack of precision in the system. I think it's much better than anything else out there because the base it works from, the base risk table, is better than anything available. No one out there is a zero risk, so why start there?

ES: A yellow light for Jose Reyes seems reasonable: he struggled with injuries when he first came up, but was a horse in 2005. Does a young player like Reyes "grow into his body", as they say?

WC: I don't think growth has anything to do with it. The Mets spent a lot of time and money making sure he had the best chance to stay healthy, then the Mets staff worked on him day in, day out. Reyes probably won't remember come contract time, but he should write Ray Ramirez and Vern Gambetta a big check. Another "horse" year and I'll be a believer.

ES: Carlos Beltran struggled in the first half of 2005 with a nagging quad injury which he may have come back from too quickly. Should we be overly concerned that that type of muscle injury might recur? What have you heard about any potentially-lingering effects of his late-season facial fracture?

WC: The face isn't a physical concern, but you have to worry about the mental. His quad strain is problematic. Running - range, speed - is a big part of his game and reducing that by any percentage hurts. I think his adjustment to NY and to Shea is a bigger part and that he'll come back some this year.

ES: Any injury to Pedro Martinez (or any team's ace, for that matter) is worrisome, but I'm somewhat sobered by the fact that it's "just" his toe bothering him, as opposed to something in his pitching arm. Is that crazy?

WC: Little things are important. If that toe affects his stride and puts more stress on his shoulder, it won't be "just" a toe. We've seen over and over that the pitching motion is so complex that anything that alters it, no matter how small, can be significant.

ES: How likely is it that Cliff Floyd will play in 150 games again, as he did in 2005? If not 150, how many games to you peg him at?

WC: I'd guess 130. Floyd's adjusted to being the player he is, though it took a while. He doesn't try to do what he used to be able to anymore. If you figure him for 120 and construct the roster to account for that (Diaz, etc) then 130, 140, 150 is gravy. He's in a contract year, something that we've proven is a big deal.

ES: On a personal note, I've found that a lot of people who cover baseball no longer "root" for a particular team. Who was your favorite team growing up, and has writing about baseball affected that loyalty in any way?

WC: I grew up a Cubs fan. I can remember the first game I saw on cable. With all the Prior hulabaloo this year, it's been tough. Any more, I root for good baseball, whether I'm watching the Cubs, the Mets, the local little league, or Team Korea.

ES: Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, Will. I really appreciate it, and I look forward to speaking with you again in the future. Keep up the great work at BP.

WC: Thanks!

Be sure to check out Carroll's books, Saving the Pitcher and The Juice: The Real Story of Baseball's Drug Problems.