clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Schilling's opinion on Vazquez not entirely right

Curt Schilling was an excellent pitcher, a likely Hall of Famer, and his work in pursuit of a cure for Lou Gehrig's disease puts a gold star next to his name on the rolls of righteous human beings. His qualifications as a psychologist are less certain. Thus when he says that Vazquez can't excel in New York because his comfort level is disturbed when he's outside of "second-tier cities from a baseball passion perspective," it would be far more satisfying to hear that he had a rationale based on firsthand observation of the pitcher rather than just some third-hand inference that he's no more qualified to make than any fan in the stands. It is not only irresponsible for a man of his experience and authority to broadcast a conclusion that has no more basis than that, but it lacks professional courtesy. It's not a perfect analogy, but if, say, Steve Carlton had come out in 1994 and had said that Schilling's 2.35 ERA of 1992 was a fluke, it would have been a similarly irresponsible effort at character assassination.

Given his pitching experience and success, Schilling is on firmer ground when he speculates that Vazquez is "a phenomenal National League pitcher. 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." However, the thesis is of limited use for the same reason as his psychological perspective: we don't know, because he hasn't been asked to specify, what it is about Vazquez's approach that makes him unsuited to succeeding in the American League. In this case, we can guess that he might be referring to a tendency towards fly balls that has led Vazquez to allow 325 career home runs. This is a handicap given the designated hitter and the hitter-friendly parks of the junior circuit, but not every pitcher to prosper in the AL has been a Tommy John clone; fly-ball pitchers have won in this league. Vazquez's ability to do so is still an open question, not a closed book. As even Schilling concedes (and as I have said here), the Yankees don't need Vazquez to pitch as well as he did in Atlanta last season; an ERA of 4.50 will be more than sufficient given their offensive capabilities and unless he truly has a psychological problem with the American League and/or a physical injury, there's no reason he can't achieve that.