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Podcast: ‘Baseball in the District’ – @injuryexpert Will Carroll

May 15, 2014, 10:54 AM EDT

Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER

In this week’s episode of ‘Baseball in the District,’ Tim Murray of ESPN 980 and I once again welcomed two guests. The first was Bleacher Report lead writer for sports medicine, Will Carroll. The former Sports Illustrated columnist gave his insight on the recent crop of Tommy John surgeries in baseball and whether he thinks Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Wilson Ramos are injury prone.

The second guest was Joe Drugan of The Nats Blog. Joe had great stuff on the Nationals’ pitching staff, as well as some information about Ian Desmond’s charitable work involving Neurofibromatosis (NF).

Before welcoming in our guests, Tim and I compared the 2014 Nationals to last year’s club, broke down their starting pitching struggles and discussed the impact of Adam LaRoche’s injury.

Check it out right here:

You can also listen to the show on ESPN 980’s website and download it on iTunes.

  1. thelatencn - May 15, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    Worked hard on this one, only to get newposted. So am reposting from the previous thread.

    Atomiccover’s thought about the relation between Desmond’s hitting and his babies is worth exploring. His first, if I recall correctly, absolutely corresponded to his sudden breakout late in the 2011 season — which continued into 2012 and beyond. And while Tcostant is in general correct about 3rd children being no big deal, there are exceptions, particularly if Momma is unhappy, which sounds like a possibility from the material cited by Tcostant.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 15, 2014 at 11:28 AM

      Hiram Hover on May 15, 2014 at 11:07 am
      Except that Ian’s first kid was born spring 2011.

      #2 was born fall 2012, so his wife was pregnant for that season.

      Ghost of Steve M. on May 15, 2014 at 11:22 am
      The game is very mental for these guys. Any discord can rattle them.

      Desi quit dipping and it seemed to affect him. Whether it did or didn’t in actuality is irrelevant if he “thinks” it was.

      Same as I pointed out about Rendon in Oakland. After the Frandsen comments all of a sudden Rendon was off.

      I’ve heard the Haren theories also. The fact he’s given up 3 runs in his last 3 starts is irrelevant since he lives with his family now.

      I don’t mind giving these guys excuses as they bring problems from the office home and vice versa but I expect more out of veteran players and Desi wouldn’t use any excuse because he isn’t that guy.

      “Steady head leads to steady stats”

      • Hiram Hover - May 15, 2014 at 11:43 AM

        Thanks for re-posting and saving me the trouble, Ghost. I agree about the mental aspects of the game and the bleed-over from their lives off the field, which of course applies to those of us in other lines of work too.

        It’s just so hard to know, because we don’t know about all their off-field stresses, and we don’t know how players, like anyone else, will respond. Maybe personal problems leave you distracted at work, or maybe you get hyper-focused on work because it’s a refuge from a messy personal life.

        It is funny to hear the same off-field event being used to explain exactly opposite outcomes. Desi’s wife is pregnant and he’s having a break out season (2012)! Desi’s wife is pregnant and he’s lost (2014)!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 15, 2014 at 11:47 AM

        HH, poll fathers who have 2 at home and 1 nearly here.

        I don’t know his stress but I do see his bobbing head and so does the scouts. Pitch him outside is what they are being told.

        Does stress cause the lack of concentration?

        Past my pay grade but all I know is Desi can carry this team on his back.

      • thelatencn - May 15, 2014 at 12:28 PM

        I don’t question that you are right about the baby’s birth date. But I’m sure I remember something about the baby and Desi’s sudden breakout as a hitter in August. Was it perhaps that mother and child came to live with him at that time or somesuch?

    • Brookstoor - May 15, 2014 at 12:44 PM

      Looks like you worked hard on incorrectly guessing/assuming/speculating. I don’t know why people feel the need to know what’s going on inside Desi’s head when streakiness has been in his game for a long while. Pulling out of the slumps has also been in him for a long while. He takes homerun swings at bad pitches. That’s what I see.

      • thelatencn - May 15, 2014 at 12:52 PM

        Well, I’m not qualified to analyze major league swings. But I am fascinated by the relationship between the off-field life and on-field performance of athletes, just because, as HH observes above “personal problems do leave you distracted at work.”

        My hypothesis is probably untestable, because ballplayers like everyone else have privace rights (even in these days), so it’s probably impossible to ever quantify the relationship. The sabermetricians will no doubt try, I guess. What strikes me though, is that such factors may possibly be so significant as to render measurable factors insignificant.

  2. dcwx61 - May 15, 2014 at 1:06 PM

    HH, you’re here….regarding the use (or lack there of of) the invisible battery (DetLeon)
    I saw your point that Det has no options therefore, I agree he serves a role although a very expensive one…to be held on for a trade in July as more and more contenders are desparate for arms. Would still give him a mop up appearance every now and then but maybe afraid of injury ???

    • Hiram Hover - May 15, 2014 at 2:24 PM

      It will be interesting to see about Det. I don’t know about the possibility of a trade–still a lot of time left for the Nats to be in need themselves.

      I was curious to see how odd Det’s usage really is (because it seems odd to me), so I went back and compared him to Craig Stammen. Ross has had 11 appearances and 18 IP this year, vs 12 and 21 for Stammen. So one less appearance and 3 less IP over 7 weeks for Ross.

      If Ross is used tomorrow night, it will have been a week since his last appearance, which is a pretty long gap. I was curious and went back to look at Stammen’s record last year, since he seems the best comp. Craig pitched in roughly 1/3 of the Nats games in 2013 (55 appearances), but you can find 6 and 7 day gaps in his record.

      To extend the comparison – I think there was a sense that the Nats were in danger of overusing Stammen over the last couple of years (most IP in relief of anyone in MLB in 2012-13), and so part of Det’s value could be that he takes some of that pressure off.

      So maybe Det’s usage isn’t as odd as I thought. Or rather, what makes it odd is that he’s getting paid so much to do it, and that it’s not what MW et al said when they did their best to sugar-coat his move to the pen back in March.

      • Section 222 - May 15, 2014 at 3:07 PM

        Once again, taking a look at the actual numbers is helpful for talking ourselves off the ledge. Thanks HH.

        So neither long man, Stammen or Det, is getting much work. That’s actually a good thing. The less often we need a reliever in the 6th inning or earlier the better. And the one recent time that we had to turn to the bullpen early (the rain delayed game vs. the Dodgers), MW masterfully used a bunch of one inning guys rather than turning to Det or Stammen, which left them available to relieve Treinen who was starting the next day. Maybe MW isn’t feeling his way quite as much as we thought.

      • Hiram Hover - May 15, 2014 at 3:41 PM

        To expand a bit:

        Between 2012-13, Stammen averaged 57 appearances and 85 IP. His pace so far this year would give him fewer appearances but about the same IP if you just multiply out by 4 – 48 appearances and 84 IP.

        Similarly, Det for the year would be at 44 appearances and 72 IP, which over the last couple of years would look most like Tom Gorzelanny, a lefty who threw 68.1 IP in 44 appearances as a reliever in 2012 and also made one start.

        So that’s another way there’s a precedent for MW’s use of Det. But it’s not a comparison that Det would probably be too happy about.

      • Section 222 - May 15, 2014 at 6:11 PM

        Remember when it was reported in 2011 when Gorzo was demoted to the bullpen after being a starter well into July, he went to Davey and said, “I’m fine with being a reliever if that’s what you need me to do, but I don’t want to just be a mopup guy. I want to contribute just like any other member of the pen.” Davey took him seriously and he ended up with a 2.42 ERA that year.

        I get the feeling Det hasn’t embraced his new role yet. It must be terribly disappointing if you’ve thought of yourself as a big time starter for your whole life, but there’s a good career to be had and a good living to be made if you can become a reliable setup guy. See, e.g., Clip. I hope Det gets there. Seeing Roark and Treinen and reading about our Hagerstown rotation makes me think Det has had his last chance to be in our rotation.

      • dcwx61 - May 15, 2014 at 6:19 PM

        Talking about the oddness now on MASN Mid-Atlantic Sports Report….No answers….they also find it odd and unproductive to use him only twice this month. They also have no rationale for the lack of use.given some recent opps

  3. rayvil01 - May 15, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    Concerning the epidemic of TJ surgeries; one thing I don’t hear mentioned enough is the style of modern overhand pitching as a major contributor. In the concourse is a statue of Walter Johnson. His longevity stats are mind-blowing. I don’t have time to pull them, but they blow away the current crop of pitchers. WJ threw 3/4 using his core to power the arm. There’s scarcely any one throwing thst way today. They didn’t have radar guns but he was reported to be very fast. It was certainly good enough for the Hall of Fame. Why don’t they teach kids to throw like WJ did?

    It doesn’t make sense to me that you would teach kids a technique with such a high rate of serious injury.

    • npb99 - May 15, 2014 at 2:10 PM

      WJ may have thrown hard, but note that in every sport where performance can be objectively measured, modern athletes are stronger and faster than those of yesterday. Unlikely that WJ and his peers threw as hard as the guys today with their technique and training.

      • rayvil01 - May 15, 2014 at 3:05 PM

        On avetage there is no question you are correct. But there are going to be exceptions. Bob Feller threw ovr 100 mph in mid century. His motion wasn’t this srvere ovrthand thing we see today with “Scap Loading, Inverted Ws” and all that.
        8
        If TJ surgery becomes a gateway exercise then techniques have to be revisited. TJ shouldn’t be a prerequisite for success. ..and it’s getting close to being just that.

      • Joe Seamhead - May 15, 2014 at 8:04 PM

        I feel with no uncertainty that if Walter was pitching today that he would be the next Cy Young winner.He was that good. And velocity was only a part of why he was that good. As Shirley Povich said when asked who was the best pitcher of all-time his answer was with no hesitation, “Walter Johnson.”

  4. Section 222 - May 15, 2014 at 1:40 PM

    Off topic, if there is a topic, how much fun would this be?:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2014/05/baseball_road_trip_how_to_visit_all_30_mlb_stadiums_in_30_days.html

    • Section 222 - May 15, 2014 at 1:57 PM

      My answer: probably not much fun at all, but it’s a cool idea anyway.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 15, 2014 at 2:42 PM

      A tedious journey that many attempt. Try a more leisurely trip to follow your favorite team on the road. The players are more accessible on the road and many of them appreciate a familiar face or just the curly Dub on your cap.

      • natsfan1a - May 15, 2014 at 4:28 PM

        This approach is more my style. Sure, it will take me longer to visit them all, but I’ll just keep chipping away at it, taking it one game and ballpark at a time. Good Lord willing, I’ll be able to do some sightseeing as well as helping out the ballclub. :-)

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - May 15, 2014 at 5:38 PM

        Regular season plus playoffs, thats about 30 weeks. One extra ballpark a week for thirty weeks … one O.Co, one Petco, one OPACY … just one extra park a week, and you’re in Yankee Stadium.

  5. natsguy - May 15, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    In his 40’s while at Cleveland as a coach he was reported to be at about 95 for 4 or 5 pitches.

  6. Ghost of Steve M. - May 15, 2014 at 2:38 PM

    On the subject of haters is this Tweet in sarcasm. Maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with what a player does on the field and rather that people make it personal and just don’t like the player.

    “@tmasterfsarcasm: No, you don’t have “haters”. People just don’t like you. Get over yourself.”

  7. therealjohnc - May 15, 2014 at 7:55 PM

    On the podcast: I think it’s kind of early to be wondering about who will be starting the Wild Card game. Heck, I think the team still has a good shot at winning the division. And there are four months of baseball for the starters to sort themselves out anyway. Whoever would start that hypothetical game, it wouldn’t have much to do with the first five weeks of the season.

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