Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that Rickie Weeks and the Brewers are trying to hammer out a long-term contract prior to their scheduled arbitration hearing Thursday.
According to Rosenthal the contract would for at least three and possibly as many as five years. This season is Weeks’ third and final year of arbitration eligibility, so a three-year deal would buy out his first two seasons of free agency. A five-year deal would cover four free agent seasons and keep Weeks in Milwaukee through age 32.
Weeks submitted a $7.2 million arbitration request, while the Brewers countered at $4.85 million. He earned $2.75 million in 2010 while putting together a career-year, hitting .269 with 29 homers, 112 runs, and an .830 OPS while playing 160 games after never staying healthy enough to play even 130 games previously.
“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.