Alfonso Soriano isn’t interested in replacing Melky Cabrera

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Alfonso Soriano made it known before the trade deadline that he wasn’t interested in a trade to the Giants. Asked again today about the possibility of a move to San Francisco in light of Melky Cabrera’s regular season-ending suspension, Soriano replied “I don’t think so,” CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports.

Soriano has cleared waivers, just as everyone knew he would. However, with full no-trade protection, he still controls his destiny in Chicago. The Cubs would be agreeable to paying a hefty portion of the approx. $42 million he’s due through 2014 in order to send him elsewhere, but finding a team that both wants him and that Soriano would be willing to go to has proven to difficult so far.

The Giants could certainly use him, given that they’re currently staring down a future with Gregor Blanco and maybe some Xavier Nady, Justin Christian or Marco Scutaro in left field. Soriano has hit .264/.319/.490 with 21 homers and 71 RBI for the Cubs this year. His totals would rank first on the Giants in homers and second behind Buster Posey in RBI.

Alas, it’s probably not meant to be.

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.