UPDATE: Jamey Carroll, Twins agree to a two-year deal

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UPDATEJerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports that the Twins are the lucky winners of the Jamey Carroll derby and are closing in on a multi-year deal.  He’s expected to be their starting shortstop.  Terms aren’t disclosed, but I presume it won’t be four years, $50 million.  UPDATE:  Rosenthal says it looks like two-years, $7 million.  Seems pretty damn reasonable, actually.

11:00 AMJerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports that Jamey Carroll is close to signing a multi-year contract. We don’t know who with — Mystery Team!! — but a lot of teams have expressed interest ranging from the Tigers, Rockies, Dodgers, Indians and Braves.

Maybe a multi-year deal is sort of nuts, but in a world where Willie Bloomquist gets one Carroll is certainly entitled. Because, like, he’s better. Indeed, he seems poised to get a starting job someplace, either at short or at second base, even at age 38, having just batted .290 with a .359 OBP.  And he’s thought of as a model baseball citizen, great clubhouse presence kind of guy.

So much so that I’m shocked that the Braves haven’t signed him already. Like, last week.  He’s the most Braves player to hit the market in five years, I bet.  And I’m not complaining.  He’d be better than Alex Gonzalez for a year or perhaps two while the Braves’ shortstop prospects mature.  This is a team that found a home for Walt Weiss, so they can certainly make room for Carroll.

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.