When it comes to rookies and long term deals, there is risk in taking one too

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Buster Olney weighed in on Scott Boras’ comments from yesterday, om which Boras seemed to downplay the likelihood of a long term deal for Eric Hosmer. Here’s Buster:

Scott Boras will advise against Eric Hosmer working out a longterm deal right now. Because, after all, what person in their early 20s would ever want to guarantee themselves tens of millions of dollars? The advice belongs to Boras. The risk falls entirely in the lap of Eric Hosmer.

I get what Olney is saying, but he’s leaving something out: that there’s risk in Hosmer taking a long term deal at this point too. The risk that he will leave tens of millions of dollars on the table.  Just ask Evan Longoria.  Yes, he was guaranteed tens of millions of dollars in his early 20s, but he also will wake up one day and realize that he gave away $50 million. And he didn’t give it to Ronald McDonald House or the United Way. He gave it to the Tampa Bay Rays. And actually, I bet he woke up already with that realization.

Security is important. But if you’re Eric Hosmer — and Scott Boras — you don’t simply jump at any deal because of base level security. That’s what insurance is for.  You make an early deal only if it’s the right deal.  And I don’t take Scott Boras’ comments yesterday in which he talked about market value and the changes in the business landscape of baseball as slamming the door closed. I take them as trying to create the groundwork for the right deal, if there is one to be had. Which, by the way, is his job.

We understandably downplay the  risk of someone signing a bad big contract when they’re young because, sure, the difference between being broke and having, say, $50 million is way more stark than the risk of having $50 million vs. $100 million.  But that’s still risk. And it’s risk that Eric Hosmer hired Scott Boras to help him manage. So who are we to begrudge him managing it?

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.