You can probably safely slot this in the "Stories that weren't even really stories but were stories because it's early spring training and nothing else is going on," folder. Just flows off the tongue don't you think? Any way, on to the (probably non-)story.
In a strange bit of news today, MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reported that the Brewers are planning on not putting a radar gun on a pitcher until March 15. It's hard for me to imagine a meaningful and logical reason for this, though it's certainly possible one exists. I can however think of a couple reasons why this might be a bad idea.
Velocity is often one of the first and most clear indicators of an injury. Last year red flags arose when former closer Jim Henderson could only hit 91-92 mph on the radar gun instead of his usual 94-97. He barely pitched for the rest of the season. That's an extreme velo gap but it's not always that obvious to the eye.
Early on in Spring Training pitchers aren't at full strength so they can't be expected to hit their peak velocity. Sometimes they don't hit their peak velocity until a week or two into the regular season. But it would be useful to track that progression. Brewers are partially denying themselves that ability by ignoring two weeks worth of information. If a guy should be hitting a certain velo 3 weeks in and isn't, that might have shown up sooner and action could have been taken earlier to identify the issue.
Sometimes a pitcher will suffer an injury mid-game. Often you'll see a marked velo drop-off when that happens. So even if a pitcher isn't close to his peak velocity, we can still observe a change in whatever his average velo is at that time. Certainly the injury might make itself visible in ways other than velocity. But what if it doesn't? The Brewers won't know in those instances.
I already mentioned Jim Henderson's injury but he's not alone. Tyler Thornburg hurt his elbow (partially torn UCL) and had PRP injections in the off season. Corey Knebel hurt his elbow last year too. Brandon Kintzler had knee surgery. Jonathan Broxton has suffered injuries in his recent past and his average velocity was the lowest of his career last year. It was rising towards the end of the season and is something you'd think they'd want to keep track of for as long as possible.
It's been suggested that pitchers overthrow when a radar gun is on them. Maybe that's valid and indeed I assume that's why the Brewers are doing this. However I'm not convinced a pitcher that over throws when there is a radar gun won't over throw when there isn't one. The impetus is still there. The guy is over throwing because he's trying to impress to win a job. If that guy is concerned about winning a spot and is going to press, I think it's pretty reasonable to assume he's going to press regardless of the radar gun.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying this is a big deal. I just don't like this move. Guys that are going to press may very well to press no matter what. The only thing we know for sure the Brewers are doing is denying themselves information that could potentially be important. I think that's kind of dumb and I'm not convinced it's worth the theoretical payoff.
Again, I full acknowledge this is one of those things that will very likely not end up mattering one teeny tiny little bit. But if it doesn't end up mattering, it might only be because they got lucky. It will mean that all the pitchers were healthy and progressing at a reasonable rate. However if a pitcher is hurt or isn't progressing at a normal rate, they've decreased their ability to detect that.