Jose Canseco signs with the WhiteWings

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It’s a good guess that if Jose Canseco had any actual drawing power, he would have stuck with one of these indy league teams for a bit, at least until something better came along. Not that anything better was ever likely to come along.

The 48-year-old Canseco landed a new gig Friday, signing with the Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings of the North American Baseball League. He’s slated to make his debut for the club Saturday.

It’ll be Canseco’s second stint with the NABL. He hit .256/.371/.427 with eight homers in 199 at-bats as a player-manager for Yuma last year. Earlier this season, he hit .194/.310/.250 with one homer in 72 at-bats for Worcester of the Can-Am Association.

Canseco was also in the news earlier this week after filing for bankruptcy in Nevada. He listed $21,000 in assets and nearly $1.7 million in liabilities. He owes a cool $500,000 to the IRS.

 

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.