Omar Vizquel wants to be a major league manager next year

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No major leaguer has gone directly from playing to managing since Pete Rose was doing double duty for the Reds in the 1980s. Omar Vizquel hopes to change that, though; he wants the chance to interview for managerial openings this winter.

“I want to manage now,” Vizquel told FOXSports.com’s Jon Morosi.

The fact that both Mike Matheny and Robin Ventura have both had very successful first years on the bench without any real coaching experience can’t hurt the 45-year-old Vizquel’s chances of landing a job right away.

The Astros are the one team everyone expects to target a new manager this winter, and they could take a look at Vizquel. Cleveland, though, is the really interesting possibility. The Indians have tried to shut down rumors that they’ll be looking to replace Manny Acta, but Vizquel still has plenty of fans there. Vizquel spent 11 years in Cleveland, making three All-Star teams and winning eight Gold Gloves for a franchise that hasn’t seen nearly as much success since he departed. For a team looking to put more fannies in the seats (without spending a lot of money in the process), his arrival could add some excitement next spring.

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.