Jim Leyland announced his retirement earlier this week after eight seasons in Detroit. The Tigers are moving quickly to find a replacement.
Chris Iott of MLive.com reports that Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach met with Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski and three members of the front office yesterday. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal was the first to connect the Tigers and Wallach earlier this week while Jonah Keri of Grantland wrote last night that talks were “escalating.”
Wallach confirmed that the interview took place and believes that his familiarity with Dombrowski could make for a smooth transition.
“I thought it went well,” Wallach told MLive.com via text message just after midnight Saturday upon returning to his home in Yorba Linda, Calif. “They are a very good ballclub and I know how Dave works. He was my general manager in Montreal.”
Lloyd McClendon, the hitting coach for the Tigers for the past eight years, is the only other known candidate to interview thus far. While Wallach doesn’t have managerial experience in the majors like McClendon, he managed the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in 2009 and 2010. He was a candidate for Boston’s managerial opening last offseason before the club hired John Farrell.
“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.