In what could hardly be called any sort of surprise, Curt Schilling has a) taken a TV/radio gig where he’s now being paid to open his mouth; and b) he’s made some news by criticizing someone, specifically Javy Vazquez in a recent ESPN Radio interview.
Among other things, Schilling said Vazquez was a “phenomenal National League pitcher” who won’t cut it in the AL. “I never, ever thought the move to New York the first time was a good one, and I didn’t think this (move) was good as well. I don’t think he suddenly learned how to pitch when he went back to Atlanta and dealt last year,” Schilling said. “It’s hard to say this without sounding disrespectful, and I don’t mean it that way – the National League is an easier league to pitch in, period, and some guys aren’t equipped to get those same outs in the American League. And he’s one of those guys.”
Obviously Vazquez’s stock in New York isn’t at its highest right now, but I’m not in the group that believes he’s got no chance to thrive. If you look at his numbers from 2000-09, this is a guy who had a 113 ERA+, averaged 8.3 strikeouts per nine and 216 innings a season. To me, that’s a long enough track record that he gets some time to settle in.
The one alarming trend in Vazquez’s outings this year has been the few miles missing on his fastball. He’s not a guy who has had control problems in the past, so that aspect is something that can be fairly passed over, but the lack of aggressiveness with the fastball is worth watching. Vazquez says he’s healthy, which means there’s a mechanical issue at work; how quickly he gets it resolved will be critical. And I think he will.
Am I surprised that people are ready to cut bait on Vazquez? Hardly. Just like I’m not surprised that Schilling has opened his mouth yet again.