Rangers discussing six-year extension with Ian Kinsler

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From FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal comes word that the Rangers are talking about a six-year contract extension with second baseman Ian Kinsler. But an agreement is not closer because the two sides are differing on what the annual value of the contract should be. Rosenthal explains:

The Rangers, sources say, are willing to give Kinsler a salary higher than Dan Uggla’s record average for a second baseman, $12.4 million. But the team probably does not want to go far above that figure, which is where [Robinson] Cano enters the equation.

The Yankees exercised Cano’s $14 million option for this season and hold a $15 million option on him for 2013. His next deal, whether achieved in an extension or through free agency, figures to be at a much higher number.

Kinsler is locked in at $7 million this season and carries a $10 million club option for 2013. If the two sides can find a common ground before Opening Day, that option year would simply be engulfed by the new six-year extension. But Kinsler and his agent may want to assume the risk and sit tight until next winter, when the Yankees are pushed a little closer toward making a decision about Cano’s future.

Kinsler, 29, batted .255/.355/.477 with 32 home runs, 77 RBI and 30 stolen bases last year for Texas.

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.