Indians, Yankees both in on Mark Reynolds, Kevin Youkilis

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Both the Indians and Yankees have met with the agent for non-tendered infielder Mark Reynolds in Nashville.

Those two teams are also known to be interested in Kevin Youkilis, who lost one lessor suitor when his old team, the White Sox, signed Jeff Keppinger today. Youkilis has also been mentioned in connection with the Dodgers and Philies, but the Indians and Yankees seem like his best bets for now.

The Indians would likely use Youkilis at first base, though they’d have the option of putting him at third if Lonnie Chisenhall struggles. The Yankees want Youkilis as a stopgap third baseman with Alex Rodriguez out for two or three months.

Youkilis’ close relationship with Terry Francona from their days in Boston could come into play with the Indians. Also, Youkilis is from Cincinnati.

As for Reynolds, he offers 30-homer power, but he’s a poor defender at third base, and he’d likely be more valuable playing first, as he did for the Orioles last season. He’d probably come cheaper than Youkilis, and unlike Youkilis, he doesn’t look like a candidate for a multiyear deal.

 

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.