Red Sox GM admits that he’s conducting a managerial search this offseason

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At the risk of criminal understatement, it will not be a surprise when Bobby Valentine is fired after the season ends.  But that doesn’t mean it isn’t surprising when the team’s GM goes on the radio and says that he’s going to be running a managerial search this winter without first, you know, actually firing the current manager.

Pete Abraham of the Globe caught this on Ben Cherington’s WEEI interview this morning:

“I’d always rather get the decision right than rush it,” Cherington said. “But what we know we need to do is hit the ground running this offseason. One of the things that, as I look back on last offseason, that didn’t go perfectly was simply the amount of time that we spent on the manager search and what that did to the rest of the offseason and I would like to spend less time on it this offseason, that’s for sure.”

Man, if it wasn’t for the fact that by doing so he’d forfeit the $2.5 million he’s owed for 2013, if I was Valentine I’d quit today. And I do it loudly and in such a way as to make clear how jerked around I’ve felt all season.

I mean, no, he hasn’t had a good year by any stretch of the imagination and yes, he has made things worse with a lot of his behavior and decisions, but the manner in which he was used and abused by this team, the front office and the media has been ridiculous. His very hiring was part of some palace intrigue between the team’s president and the GM. He’s been a scapegoat for problems that existed before he was hired and would have been present no matter who had the job. And now his boss is going on the radio and talking about his replacement before he’s even gone.

Because of the contract Valentine has no choice but to sit quietly and wait to be fired, but this really is bush league, unprofessional crap.

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.