True to his word, Carlos Beltran will pay for Jon Niese’s nose job

15 Comments

Jon Niese showed up to spring training earlier this week with a reconstructed schnoz, relaying the story of how former Mets teammate Carlos Beltran encouraged him to get a nose job and even offered to pay for the operation.

That was before Beltran got traded to the Giants around midseason, but apparently he’s living up to his end of the bargain.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch talked to Beltran, who’s now with the Cardinals, and the outfielder has received the bill from Niese and “will pay later this spring.”

I’m really hoping that getting a nose job paid for by a co-worker catches on, because I have too much nose and Calcaterra has too much money. It would be a perfect solution.

No one pounds the zone anymore

Getty Images
4 Comments

“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.