Javier Vazquez

Javier Vazquez wows with seven shutout innings vs. Rays


The Marlins signed veteran right-hander Javier Vazquez to a one-year, $7 million contract this winter, hoping that he might be able to return to form back in the National League.

Vazquez posted a frightening 5.32 ERA and 1.40 WHIP last season for the Yankees, but he earned NL Cy Young Award votes in 2009 with a dominant campaign in Atlanta and the Marlins believed that the 34-year-old had some of that magic left.

The experiment got off to a disastrous start this year as Vazquez registered a 7.55 ERA over his first eight outings, but a glimmer of hope arrived Saturday afternoon in the form of a seven-inning shutout against the cross-state Rays. The Puerto Rico native struck out seven Tampa Bay batters and issued just two walks while surrendering only three hits.

It was only Vazquez’s second quality start of 2011 and the seven strikeouts were a season-high. The Marlins, who just lost Josh Johnson to the disabled list, will hope for more of the same from Javy next week.

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

Pitch Clock
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According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.

The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.

Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.

It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.

Billy Beane promoted to VP, David Forst named A’s general manager

billy beane getty

I’m so old I remember when general managers used to run baseball operations departments. Now they’re basically assistants.

The latest example: the Oakland Athletics have promoted Billy Beane to vice president of baseball operations and have named David Forst general manager. Forst has been with the A’s for 16 years and has been Beane’s assistant for 12 years, so it’s not exactly a situation in which Forst will be making the final calls. The official move came today, though the move has been in the works for some time, it seems.

Someone with a lot of good front office access is going to write a good story this winter about the title inflation going on in Major League Baseball over the past year. And it’s gonna be great when one of his or her sources breaks the pattern of saying “well, baseball transactions are so much more complex these days . . . ” and admits “hey, if Theo gets a fancy title and La Russa gets a fancy title I WANT A FANCY TITLE TOO.”

Not that it’s much of a secret as it is.