Re: Knowing how to pitch
Sometimes I think that one of the hardest and best things for a pitcher to learn is flexibility. You have to be dedicated enough to study tapes of hitters and determine what will work with them, but then you also have to be able to be loose and flexible on the mound, take cues from the catcher about what may be going on with a particular batter, change your pitches and your speed at the last minute. And that includes long-term flexibility as well -- accepting at some point that your fastball is no longer getting the job done and you need to find other ways around that.
A great example of this this season, actually, is Mike Mussina. Mussina has the blessing and the curse of being an incredibly smart guy, and when his stuff started to naturally disappear a bit a couple of years ago due to age, I think he thought too much through it and allowed it to panic him. This year, he really seems to be in a groove, open to learning new stuff, putting more thought into the placement of his pitches, but not freaking out about anything. His speed has deteriorated, but he's allowed his repertoire to open up. As long as he stays healthy, this will definitely extend his career. Martinez is a very smart pitcher which is why he keeps staying around longer than people expect, longer than his physical abilities should allow. Johnson, as somebody said, is the antithesis of that -- so far, much too stubborn to accept that his physical ability alone will not allow him to continue pitching the way he always has.
There is no such thing as a pitching prospect.