According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, the Marlins have had “internal discussions” about a trade for Rays utility man Sean Rodriguez. The plan would be to play him at third base, possibly as part of a platoon.
The Marlins are reportedly close to a two-year, $7.5 million contract with Garrett Jones, which likely signals that Logan Morrison will be traded. The Rays are one of many teams who have expressed interest, so Frisaro speculates that a swap of Morrison for Rodriguez and a pitcher could get it done.
Rodriguez posted a mediocre .246/.320/.385 batting line to go along with five home runs and 23 RBI over 222 plate appearances this past season, but he has proven useful against southpaws during his career and provides versatility. He’ll turn 29 in April and is slated to hit free agency after the 2015 season. The Marlins have top prospect Colin Moran on the way, so Rodriguez would mostly be a stopgap option.
“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.