Remember how I mentioned earlier that Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot were likely the favorites to share playing time at second base now that Freddy Sanchez is expected to begin the season on disabled list? Apparently not.
Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports that the Giants are telling teams that they are shopping both Theriot and Fontenot. It’s not clear who may have interest, but Stark mentions the Braves and Phillies as potential fits.
Why are the Giants so willing to trade these guys? Good question. Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com was told today by a source that Emmanuel Burriss would be the Opening Day second baseman if the Giants had to choose right now.
Burriss, who is out of options this spring, is batting .436 (17-for-39) with five doubles, one triple, two RBI and five stolen bases during Cactus League action. However, the 27-year-old infieler owns a pretty lousy .250/.311/.281 batting line and a .592 OPS over 651 plate appearances in the major leagues.
Theriot is set to earn $1.25 million this season while Fontenot will make $1.05 million, but their contracts are non-guaranteed. The Giants will surely try to find a suitor over the next few days, but as Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle noted yesterday, they have the option to release either of them by March 29 and recoup three-quarters of their salary for 2012.
“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.