Prince Fielder is looking for a Mark Teixeira deal

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Yesterday Tom Haudricourt said that, after his conversation with Scott Boras, he was never more convinced that Prince Fielder was going to leave Milwaukee via free agency.  Today we have the article explaining why, and it comes down to two words: Mark Teixeira. The quotes are all Boras:

“When you have a player that performs like Mark Teixeira, you have to
look at Prince Fielder’s performance in comparison. You
want to know the value of a player? Take a look at it . . . Prince is a home-run hitter. He’s 70 home runs ahead of Teixeira at
that point . . . If you look at Mark Teixeira’s contract, he made the Yankees money. How
many teams would take on Mark Teixeira’s contract? I would say 20. The
reason is it’s good business to do that. Those players are invaluable.”

Mark Teixeira got an eight-year, $180 million contract which started out at $20 million a year and escalates up to $22.5 million a year starting next season and will take him through 2016.  Unconfirmed reports had the Brewers offering Fielder $20 million for four or five years.

I know everyone got tired of hearing the “body type” and “aging pattern” arguments when Ryan Howard got his extension, but they apply even more so to Fielder.  Boras is big on comps, is he? If I were the Brewers I would challenge him to identify for me one player in the history of baseball as short and as fat as Prince Fielder is who put up top-flight, MVP-type numbers during his age 28-35 seasons.

And no, I won’t accept Babe Ruth unless Boras is willing to really run with that comparison and make the claim that Fielder is the Babe’s equivalent in all aspects of his game.  Which, now that I think about it, he might just try to see if he can do it.

Anyway, I think the point to be drawn from all of this is that Milwaukee had best think about trading Fielder pronto.

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.