Chapman will only cost the Reds $1 million in 2010

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Everyone was reporting yesterday that the Reds got Chapman for $30 million yesterday, but it’s apparently a bit more nuanced than that. According to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, it’s a $25 million deal that locks him up for over five years with a player option for a sixth, which would bump the total to $30 million.

But here’s the kicker: the payments are spread out over ten years, with his salary for 2010 being a mere $1 million. Fay says that “the first year it will be a major burden on the big league budget is 2014.”

I suppose there are two ways to look at this. Given their presumed financial constraints, it’s probably a good thing that they’re delaying the pain of this contract, such as it is, until guys like Aaaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo are off the payroll.  On the other hand, if Chapman does turn out to be a bust, it will be a total bummer when he exercises that option and the team still has to write checks to his ineffective butt circa 2014.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of Chapman, how about these apples: according to Buster, the Athletics came in second to Cincy in the bidding.  How about that? The lowly Reds and A’s, each willing to go north of $25 million on an amateur free agent with the Yankees and Red Sox nowhere in sight. And all this time I’ve been believing people who told me that that the big teams would crush the little teams if you got rid of the draft.

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.