Done deal: Alfonso Soriano to be in Yankees lineup tonight

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UPDATE: The trade haul for Chicago: minor league right-hander Corey Black. Black is the 25th ranked prospect in the Yankees organization. He has great velocity but zero command so he’s, to put it mildly, a project.

UPDATE:  Buster Olney reports that the Cubs will pay roughly $17.7 million of the approximately $24.5 million left on Alfonso Soriano’s contract. We’re still awaiting word on who is going back to Chicago, but the word is that the Cubs are deciding among several low-level minor league pitching prospects.

8:23 AM: Gentlemen, start your “and now comes the man New York never should have traded away for Alex Rodriguez” columns. You know you want to. Just don’t try to figure out how the 2009 World Series would’ve worked, OK?

For as much as we’ve slagged on Soriano over the years this is a good pickup for New York. They have zero power at the moment. That’s the one part of Soriano’s game which still plays.

More details of what we know about the trade so far can be read here.

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.