Last week during a radio interview Cliff Lee said that he chose Philadelphia over New York in part because “it seems like some of the Yankee guys are getting older.”
First of all, technically “some of the Yankee guys are getting older” is a statement of fact. We’re all “getting older” (with the notable exceptions of Halle Berry, Benjamin Button, and Mike Carey).
Setting that aside, Calcaterra noted that according to the average age of the rosters, the Phillies are actually the oldest team in baseball and the Yankees are merely the ninth-oldest.
Naturally general manager Brian Cashman was asked about Lee’s comments regarding the Yankees’ age and replied:
Some of our core guys that we have relied on have gotten up there, but we have a group of young players that we’re excited about. All we care about is being called champions. You can say anything else you want about us. When you call us old, that’s fine. It was a marriage that was not meant to be. That’s life.
All of which is more or less what you’d hope a GM would say when asked to respond to some random, one-sentence comment another team’s player made on the radio.
Lee turned down the Yankees because he’d rather play for the Phillies and rather play in Philadelphia. I’m not sure exactly how many times Lee needs to be asked to explain himself or how many articles need to be written analyzing the motives behind his decision, but I’m pretty confident the answer in both cases is “fewer than have already occurred.”
“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.