Report: Mets turned down O’s offer of Zach Britton-for-Ike Davis over winter

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Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reported yesterday that the Mets see trading Ike Davis as the “as the likely endgame” and today he dropped an interesting nugget about a proposal the team turned down over the winter:

My reporting on Friday led me to these conclusions: Just as in the offseason, the Mets are eager to move Davis — but also just as in the offseason, they want a decent return. Despite their preference for Duda, the Mets have declined several trade proposals for Davis in recent months, including Baltimore’s offer of pitcher Zach Britton, according to a person briefed on talks between the two clubs (that person said the Orioles now consider that deal off the table).

With his elite ground ball rate, Britton could have been an asset as a back-end starter or middle reliever, but the Mets reportedly aimed higher for Davis, asking the Orioles for prospect left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez. They didn’t bite and it appears that Baltimore has moved on. For what it’s worth, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported in February that the Mets turned down a deal from the Rays over the winter that would have netted them outfielder Matt Joyce. Of course, that was before the Rays re-signed James Loney.

The Mets are currently giving Lucas Duda a trial run as their starting first baseman. So far, so good, as he launched a pair of two-run homers last night against the Reds to propel New York to their first victory of the season. Dealing Davis might be the endgame here, but his trade value isn’t going to improve on the bench.

UPDATE: A game-winning grand slam might improve his value. Just call this a perfectly-timed post.

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.