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Monday, November 29, 2010
Is Javier Vazquez' fastball gone for good?

From a recent edition of Hey Bill (subscriber-only):
And Vazquez is well after the age of 30, turns 35 in the middle of next summer.

In the absence of supporting data, I'm never quite sure if Bill is telling us something he knows, or something he merely believes. He does know a lot of things, and I think sometimes he expects us to just take his word for it. In this particular case, I was at least a little skeptical. Which is why I particularly appreciated Dave Cameron's take on pitchers who lose their fastballs:
Actually, what's striking about the list of pitchers -- which I left out, due to formatting considerations -- is how small it is; apparently it's actually quite rare for a starting pitcher to lose even one full mile an hour off his fastball from one season to the next.

Cameron's looking at fastballs, not performance, and doesn't draw any conclusions about pitchers learning to pitch effectively after losing a mile or two off their fastballs. There's no obvious reason why Vazquez can't be decent while throwing 89 miles an hour. On the other hand, if that was easy you'd think he'd have done it last season as a Yankee.

Paying him $7 million in hopes that his fastball comes back or he learns to pitch without it seems like a risk. Maybe not a huge risk, because $7 million isn't a great deal of money, and if Vazquez improves just a little they can probably flip him in July for a prospect.

It is a risk, though.