We heard back in October that the Phillies had offered former manager Charlie Manuel a job to stay with the organization. While the 70-year-old was still hoping to land another managerial job elsewhere, with the Tigers’ vacancy mentioned as one possibility, nothing ever came of it. According to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Manuel is now expected to take the Phillies up on their offer:
Charlie Manuel is expected to accept a role in the Phillies front office that would involve some minor-league hitting instruction, scouting and public relations. Amaro said he is still talking about details with Manuel.
Good to hear. While we might not see Manuel in a major league dugout again, he can be a tremendous resource for young players. Don’t let the country bumpkin persona fool you. It’s also nice to see that he’ll remain a presence in an organization where his accomplishments and contributions should be celebrated.
The winningest manager in franchise history, Manuel compiled a 780-636 record (.551) over nine seasons as manager with the Phillies. His run included five straight NL East titles from 2007-2011, two National League pennants and a World Series championship in 2008.
“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.