Results tagged ‘ Ubaldo Jimenez ’

Ubaldo: Have You Got Any More In The Back?

I have told before the story of the argument of the man who built the Yankees’ last twenty years of success, Gene “Stick” Michael, on making a big trade for a star pitcher. Still a consultant when New York was offered Johan Santana for Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, Melky Cabrera, and a minor league body, Michael said he would leave the finance and the health to others. But in terms of baseball, he pointed out that whether through injury or under-performance, 50 percent of all pitching prospects don’t even approach their highest ceiling.

Thus, he said, you have to consider the two pitchers as one: Hughnedy, or Kenughes. And suddenly you’re seeing the trade for what it was: one pitcher with 13 so-so major league starts and a proclivity to injury under his belt, for Johan Santana. He said you’d make that deal every day of the week.

And yet the Yankees didn’t make the trade. The money issue is now clear: the only thing the Mets gave up for Santana that has yet to pan out is Philip Humber, and that wasn’t until this year and it wasn’t in Minnesota. The Mets wound up tying up a huge amount of cash in Santana and got one great season, two fair ones, and this one that might see him back from serious surgery to make six or seven starts this year.

Still, the Yankees could’ve afforded that from Santana. As a major league General Manager explained it to me, the reason they didn’t make it was that they must have seen signs that the Twins weren’t certain about Santana’s health.  Was he getting extra time between starts? Had his pitch count been limited? Were his innings per-start level, or coming down?

In fact, Santana’s innings per-start had dropped by 0.15% from 2005 to 2006, then another 0.13% from 2006 to 2007, meaning he was coming out of every game roughly one batter sooner in 2007 than he had been in 2005. This other statistic is a little looser as an indicator, but the total number of batters Santana faced in 2007 was 45 fewer than he had in 2006. Doesn’t seem like a lot, but it suggests that the ‘torch factor’ – the exact number of pitches at which you go from being a guy who gets batters out, to a guy who gets torched. For whatever reason, Santana was coming out of games six or seven pitches earlier. That’s a red flag.

All of which brings us to Ubaldo Jimenez. Why wouldn’t you trade for a man who shined the way he did the first half of last year? Why, he was 15-1, and he was still 17-2 and the consensus Cy Young Winner before he got “tired.” He’s a solid citizen, and judging by that ‘bicycle license plate’ commercial, a very funny, grounded man. Heck, he’s got an Emmy Award for narrating a special for the regional cable network in Denver (I don’t have an Emmy Award). Well, in the year since he reached that 15-1 mark, he’s 10-16. And if that number is too obvious for you, let’s go back to the tip-off the Yanks evidently used on Santana. In 2010, Jimenez lasted 6.71 innings per start. This year, he’s lasted 5.86.

That number suggests if he’s not hurt, he’s going to be.

So what did the Indians give up for this? A pitcher in Alex White who had successfully stepped into their rotation before a serious but hardly chronic finger injury knocked him out. He’s just beginning rehab and should be starting for Colorado within a couple of weeks, and he’s a sinkerballer going to the thin air of Denver. Then there’s Joe Gardner, a pitcher who’s struggled in AA, but another sinkerballer. And then there’s Drew Pomeranz, that rarest of pitchers, the lefthanded flamethrower. There’s a high-risk throw-in, an ex-catcher named Matt McBride.

All of this for a Jekyll-and-Hyde starter who is showing early signs that a serious injury is in his immediate future. Or, if it isn’t, that he reached a peak of efficiency last July and has been heading downhill ever since. I’m confident that this is a trade the Indians will regret next year. I think they may regret it next month.

Stanton, Improbable Pitchers, And Joseph Joseph

So the guy many observers think is better than Jason Heyward has made the majors. Florida has promoted 20-year old Michael Stanton, the leading home run hitter in the game, and presumably he will make his major league debut on Tuesday – just as Stephen Strasburg makes his.

The question is: who loses their job in the Marlins’ lineup? Stanton is a corner outfielder, but Cody Ross can play an adequate centerfield. The assumption has been that the odd man out is the current occupant Cameron Maybin, and in that equation is the eternal caveat about the can’t-miss-prospect. Cameron Maybin has/had been that guy for nearly four seasons.
Maybin in the Dustbin of History might not be an automatic, however. There are other options for Florida, and it will be intriguing to see if they try any of them. Leftfielder Chris Coghlan has just awakened from his slumber of the season’s first seven weeks, and has infield experience. Putting him at third or second and leaving Maybin and Ross where they are, shifting either Jorge Cantu or Dan Uggla to first in place of the flaccid Gaby Sanchez, might actually improve the Florida defense, to say nothing of the offense.
WHICH PITCHING STATISTIC WON’T LAST?
Ubaldo Jimenez is a tidy 11-1 through his first twelve starts. He made the average number of starts last year, 33, and if he can match that, statistical projection has him finishing up at 30-3. This is why statistical projection is crap, but fun.
Just as entertaining is the line of Mitch Talbot of Cleveland: 11 starts, 7-4, 32 strikeouts. This extends out to a record of 21-12 with 96 K’s. If Mitch Talbot can win 21 games (and stay in all  his starts long enough to get a decision in every one of them) with just 96 strikeouts all season, he should get the Cy Young Award, the AFC Defensive Player of the Year, and The Lady Byng Trophy.
Still, the weirdest numbers a third of the way through belong to Tyler Clippard of the Nationals. If the Yankee castoff were to continue his current pace, he would end up with about 106 innings pitched in relief, featuring 123 strikeouts, 22 wins, 8 losses, 34 holds, and 14 blown saves. I’m not sure if those numbers would put him in the Hall of Fame or AAA, but you needn’t worry – Jimenez and Talbot’s projections seem likely by contrast.
PHOTO OF THE DAY:
IMG_2412.jpg
This is why being a graphics operator might be the most difficult job in television. You rarely have an editor, and very often you’re working on the road in a smelly, crowded truck, that might have the air conditioning sputtering, and the room is full of idiots shouting and spilling sodas and corndogs all over your console and whining about management and then shutting up when management suddenly walks in and before you’ve noticed it you’ve finished typing up all the Brewers’ names into their templates and you’ve made sure you put the second “l” in Counsell and that you haven’t typed in “Carlos Villauneuva” and you’ve double-checked whether Braddock is “Zach” or “Zack” and then there goes another corndog and the manager leaves and that one guy starts whining again about his per diem and before you’ve known it you’ve looked at the beard and typed in “Corey Hary” instead of Hart.

FROM A RESEARCHER’S NOTEBOOK:
Thumbnail image for lafata.jpg
Other than perhaps the untouchable king of the hill, onetime pitcher Eugene Hamlet Krapp, this gentleman to the right might have the best full name in baseball history. He is the late Joe LaFata and he was a pretty nondescript lefthanded bat off the bench, playing some first base and a little outfield for the New York Giants in 1947 and 1949 (and for one game in 1948). 
He is something of a mystery, and not just for the fact that even in the minors he never cleared 14 homers or a .289 batting average in a single season. He is a mystery because all his records agree: his first name was Joseph, and his second name was… Joseph. 
Joseph Joseph LaFata.
Of course, Eugene Hamlet Krapp’s nickname was “Rubber.”

2010 Forecasts: NL West


Here’s a
silly little question for ARIZONA about Edwin Jackson. If he’s good enough for
you to have given up on Max Scherzer, why is he pitching for his third team in
as many seasons? And why was the other guy you got in the trade a starter who
won his first major league start on September 1, 2007 – and hasn’t pitched well
since? Ian Kennedy’s rep in New York was as a guy who didn’t seem to want the
ball, and even if that was wildly untrue, there has to be some reason he went
from untouchable to throw-in in two years. On these two starters the
Diamondbacks’ season depends; they will get another acey season out of Dan
Haren and might even get a comeback from Brandon Webb, but if both
Jackson and Kennedy don’t produce,
there is nothing (Billy Buckner, Brian Augenstein, Rodrigo Lopez) for A.J.
Hinch to fall back on, and a truly potent line-up will have wasted a lot of
slugging.

COLORADO’s
line-up is so productive that it has come to this: if Todd Helton suddenly
decided to return to football (at age 37, for some reason) and they had to move
Brad Hawpe back to first base and go with some kind of Seth Smith/Ryan
Spilborghs combo, there would probably be no noticeable fall-off. There is no
reason to suspect that Jorge De La Rosa’s 2009, nor Jason Hammel’s second-half,
were flukes, and thus the Rockies offer rotational depth behind Jimenez and
Cook, and they have enough in the bullpen to back-fill for an injured Huston
Street without mentioning the dreaded words “Manny Corpas.” Franklin Morales
might just steal the job from him if Street is gone too long. This is a
well-rounded, deep team, and Troy Tulowitzki, batting clean-up, may reassert
himself this year on the path to being one of the league’s top ten hitters.

In LOS
ANGELES or anywhere else, I would trust Joe Torre with my wallet or my vote or
my house keys. But I think he’s in for a dreadful year. If anybody can get a
Number One starter kind of season out of Vicente Padilla, it’d be Joe; I’d
still bet it’s likelier that Padilla will achieve that rarest of feats – pitch
the opener and
wind
up being unconditionally released in the same season. My memory of Padilla is
him taking a no-hitter into the middle innings at Shea Stadium, and
sportswriters from two cities, in two languages, rooting against him because he
was surly in both English and Spanish. More over, what’s the message to Chad
Billingsley? Clayton Kershaw? What’s the message to Dodger fans that your fifth
starter battle involved both perpetual retreads named Ortiz? A great bullpen
cannot stay such if it has to start getting ready in the fifth inning, every
day. And the line-up is hardly as good as it looks. The Dodgers cannot get a full
season out of Ronnie Belliard, haven’t gotten one out of Blake DeWitt. They may
have burned out Russell Martin. And Manny Being Just Manny (No PEDs) is a just
slightly better offensive force than, say, Mark DeRosa. The McCourt Divorce may
be a lot more interesting than the 2010 Dodgers, and a lot less painful to
watch.

SAN DIEGO
might catch lightning in a bottle, if Mat Latos and Kyle Blanks and Nick
Hundley get off to explosive starts and there is no need to unload Heath Bell
and Adrian Gonzalez. If not, you’re looking at Aaron Cunningham and Chase
Headley as the three and four hitters, and Mike Adams or Luke Gregerson
closing. Watch, hope; rent, don’t buy.

I don’t
much like SAN FRANCISCO’s outfield (maybe they should have given John Bowker’s
spring training resurgence more attention), and their third best all-around
player might spend most of the season backing up Bengie Molina, but that’s some
pitching staff Bruce Bochy and Dave Righetti have to play with. After Lincecum,
Cain, Sanchez, and Zito, I think Todd Wellemeyer is a stop-gap and Kevin
Pucetas (or maybe Madison Bumgarner – and who ever went faster from prospect to suspect?) will eventually claim the fifth spot. The
bullpen has gone from wobbly to outstanding in two years (Dan Runzler might eventually make Brian Wilson expendable; more likely he’ll just make he and Jeremy Affeldt the top pair of left-handed set-up men in the league). I’d be happier if they’d invested in an
actual outfielder instead of Aubrey Huff, put DeRosa at third, and Sandoval at
first. But if Colorado falters, this is the West’s best bet.

PREDICTIONS:
Colorado in a runaway, unless the Giants put everything together early. The
Dodgers finish third, just ahead of the Diamondbacks – unless the Padres blossom early as mentioned above and
don’t trade everybody, in which case the three teams will place within a few games of each other.

TOMORROW NIGHT: The National League Central.

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