Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mike Gonzalez

Yesterday, Britt Ghiroli reported that Mike Gonzalez was getting close to returning (perhaps by the end of the month) and that he touched 88 mph in his latest bullpen session.  If both of those facts are true, I have one prediction: disaster.

Thanks to Brooks Baseball's Pitch FX Tool, we can use facts.  Here is Gonzalez's velocity chart from April 28, 2009:

As you can see, his fastball velocity is between 93 and 95 miles per hour, and almost exclusively above 94 mph.  Now, here is his chart from three months later, July 28, 2009:

His velocity is a bit lower, 90-94 mph.  Now from the end of last season, September 26, 2009:

Hmmmm... lower still at 88-92 mph. And here is his velocity graph from April 9, 2009:

Sigh.  87-91 mph, and he got it up over 90 just once. Why, exactly, do the Orioles think that Mike Gonzalez at 88 mph 1) is healthy and 2) can be effective?  And, it should also be asked, if I can pull this information in between meetings and running reports before 8:00 AM, why the hell did the Orioles sign an injury-prone relief pitcher who showed notable velocity declines during what was easily his highest workload season to a 2-year, $12 million contract? This is exactly the type of decision making that has me thisclose to jumping ship.


Heath said...

1) We're assuming that Gonzalez is throwing full speed with that 88 reading. That is doubtful at this point.

2) Gonzalez speed fluctuated a few mph throughout the year, that one particular reading does not mean an injury was coming. In fact, he was a bit faster during October starts...not much but a bit.

Not that I'm defending the signing, I'm a big believer in developing low-cost bullpen talent...

The Oriole Way said...

Thanks for stopping by, Heath.

Why should we assume Gonzalez isn't throwing at full speed? Obviously, he doesn't have the adrenaline factor in extended spring training, but the Orioles made a pretty big deal about wanting to see his velocity come back.

It is true that his velocity has fluctuated, and his Oct 1 outing saw 3 fastballs about 89.5 mph and 2 between 92 and 93 (and even higher on Sept 27). I simply tried to pull an early season outing where he pitched well, one mid-season outing, and then one close to the end of the season when he hadn't pitched the day before. I had no idea the trend was there; I just wanted to see if 88 mph was within his historical velocity readings. My point was that the trend was not favorable, and it only served to further illustrate the questionable decision making process that would lead a team to spend so much guaranteed money on a relief pitcher.

Regardless, if 88 mph is his current velocity level, I don't see how he can be successful.

Heath said...

I don't think that 88 mph report is useful one way or another by itself and I haven't seen any more details so it's kind of an odd thing to report without explanation. Guess we'll see over the next two weeks.