Cards offer to Holliday under $18 mil. per season

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Yesterday we heard that the Cardinals tendered a formal contract offer to free agent outfielder Matt Holliday.
Though no specific terms were mentioned at the time, this morning Joe
Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch cites ‘a source familiar with
the process’ as saying
the offer did not top $18 million per season.
This is notable because Holliday and agent Scott Boras turned down a
similar salary amount with the Rockies during the 2008 season.




The Cardinals hope to hear a
response from Holliday’s camp early next week, but they will almost
surely decline. This week in Indianapolis, Boras continued to compare
Holliday’s value to that of Mark Teixeira — you know, the guy that
signed an eight-year, $180 million contract with the Yankees last
December. The sooner Holliday says no, perhaps the sooner “Plan B” can begin.

No one pounds the zone anymore

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“Work fast and throw strikes” has long been the top conventional wisdom for those preaching pitching success. The “work fast” part of that has increasingly gone by the wayside, however, as pitchers take more and more time to throw pitches in an effort to max out their effort and, thus, their velocity with each pitch.

Now, as Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer reports, the “throw strikes” part of it is going out of style too:

Pitchers are throwing fewer pitches inside the strike zone than ever previously recorded . . . A decade ago, more than half of all pitches ended up in the strike zone. Today, that rate has fallen below 47 percent.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Most notable among them, Lindbergh says, being pitchers’ increasing reliance on curves, sliders and splitters as primary pitches, with said pitches not being in the zone by design. Lindbergh doesn’t mention it, but I’d guess that an increased emphasis on catchers’ framing plays a role too, with teams increasingly selecting for catchers who can turn balls that are actually out of the zone into strikes. If you have one of those beasts, why bother throwing something directly over the plate?

There is an unintended downside to all of this: a lack of action. As Lindbergh notes — and as you’ve not doubt noticed while watching games — there are more walks and strikeouts, there is more weak contact from guys chasing bad pitches and, as a result, games and at bats are going longer.

As always, such insights are interesting. As is so often the case these days, however, such insights serve as an unpleasant reminder of why the on-field product is so unsatisfying in so many ways in recent years.