Tag:Ubaldo Jimenez
Posted on: March 8, 2012 4:35 pm
 

For Jimenez, Indians are 'like being in heaven'

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The numbers tell one story.

The smile tells another.

It's too early in spring to know whether the numbers should be worrisome, whether it matters that Ubaldo Jimenez isn't throwing as hard as he once did, or whether it matters that he is giving up more hits and more runs.

It's not too early to realize that there was more going on with Jimenez and the Rockies than most of us realized last year.

Thursday, after Jimenez gave up two runs in an ugly first inning against the Angels, he spoke glowingly about his current employers (the Indians) and not as glowingly about the team that traded him to Cleveland last July.

"I feel happy here," Jimenez said. "This is like being in heaven for me."

As opposed to Colorado.

Jimenez wouldn't detail all of his issues with the Rockies, but he said they went back to his time in the minor leagues.

"It was kind of hard being with the Rockies," he said. "I went through a lot. People outside the organization don't know."

Jimenez told Foxsports.com earlier this spring that he wasn't happy that when the Rockies gave big new contracts to Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, they didn't do the same with him. Jimenez signed an extension in January 2009, so he's making just $4.2 million this year and has a $5.75 million club option for 2013.

But Jimenez suggested his complaints went far beyond the contract, and the way he talks about the Indians hint at what those complaints were.

"You only hear good things about this organization," Jimenez said. "They treat everyone the same. They don't care how much money you signed for."

Jimenez's first two starts this spring haven't gone well. He gave up five runs in one inning Sunday against the Reds, although four of those runs were unearned. Thursday, he gave up two runs in a 31-pitch, two-walk first inning, then rebounded with a clean second inning.

Jimenez blamed his issues Thursday on a lack of command of his fastball, but his velocity was just 90-94 mph, a little low even in spring training for a guy who at his best is in the high 90s.

For Jimenez, getting through the second start of the spring healthy was an improvement over last year. He hurt his finger in his second start last spring, and the injury seemed to playh a part in his poor start to the season.

After going 6-9 with a 4.46 ERA in 21 starts for the Rockies, Jimenez was traded to the Indians in a deal that cost them two top pitching prospects, Drew Pomeranz and Alex White. Jimenez went 4-4 with a 5.10 ERA in 11 post-trade starts for the Indians.

White made news this spring by getting caught for drunk driving. Pomeranz has begun this spring with five scoreless innings for Colorado.

"[The trade] worked both ways," Jimenez said. "They're happy. I'm happy."

He's happy, and it doesn't even matter to him that the opening day assignment that belonged to him the last two years in Colorado will go to Justin Masterson this year with the Indians.

"He deserved it," Jimenez said. "He earned the spot."


Posted on: August 25, 2011 11:45 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 11:49 pm
 

3 to Watch: The glimmer of a chance edition

Last Friday morning, the host of a morning talk show on the Angels' flagship radio station asked me if Mark Trumbo's dramatic home run the night before had given the Angels "a glimmer of a chance" in the American League West.

Good thing I said yes.

It would have been easy to say no. I was tempted to say no.

The Angels had just lost three of four to the Rangers. They still trailed the Rangers by six games in the American League West.

There was no way they were coming back. But maybe because I wanted to be nice, or maybe because I almost believed it, I said yes.

Good thing I did.

The Angels are in Texas this weekend, and if they win all three games they leave town Sunday night in first place. If they win two of three, they leave town one game out.

Even if they lose two of three, they're three games out, with a month to play.

They have at least "a glimmer of a chance."

Good thing, too, because baseball needs a pennant race in the American League West.

The Tigers have gone ahead by 6 1/2 games in the American League Central. The Brewers are so far ahead in the National League Central (10 games, as of Thursday morning) that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch asked if it's time for the Cardinals to start selling off players.

The Yankees and the Red Sox have known for weeks that they'll be in the American League playoffs. Same goes for the Phillies and Braves in the National League.

If the Rangers had pulled away, we could have been stuck with just the NL West, with the surprising Diamondbacks, the champion Giants . . . and the Rockies?

With five straight wins, the Rockies had pulled to within 8 1/2 games of the lead, before the Diamondbacks won Thursday to make it nine games.

"It's a longshot," Troy Tulowitzki told reporters. "But if anyone can do it, it's us."

The Rockies are 63-68, hardly contender-like. But it's only four games worse than they were after 131 games in 2007.

That year, they ended up with 90 wins. This year, 90 wins might win the NL West.

I'm not sure it's even a glimmer of a chance yet. But Tulowitzki is right.

If anyone can do it, it's them.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. You'd be surprised how many players talk about going back to finish their career where they started it. Jim Thome got the chance, when the Twins traded him to the Indians Thursday night. Thome, who last played for Cleveland in 2002, returns for Royals at Indians, Friday night (7:05 ET) at Progressive Field, which was known as Jacobs Field the last time he played for the Indians. Ubaldo Jimenez, last month's big Indians acquisition, will be on the mound.

2. The best thing the Angels have going for them is the top of their rotation, with Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana. And manager Mike Scioscia seems ready to use all three of those aces this weekend, even though it would mean using Santana and Weaver on three days' rest for the first time in either's big-league career. Santana would face Rangers ace C.J. Wilson in Angels at Rangers, Saturday night (8:05 ET) at Rangers Ballpark. Weaver would pitch Sunday night against Colby Lewis. Haren opens the series on regular rest, Friday against Derek Holland.

3. The Rockies' longshot run last year basically ended on a Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles, when they took a 6-1 lead and ended up losing 7-6. And it fell apart completely a few nights later in Arizona. Their longer-shot run heads to Los Angeles and Arizona this week, including Rockies at Dodgers, Sunday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Dodger Stadium.



Posted on: August 19, 2011 12:27 am
Edited on: August 19, 2011 9:37 am
 

3 to Watch: The Verlander and the East edition

What's it worth to win the American League East?

Not as much as it would be if the Twins were winning the American League Central again.

The East winner will almost certainly play the Central winner in the first round of the playoffs. The East runner-up will be the wild card, and will play the Rangers.

And the complicating factor is Justin Verlander.

If the Tigers win the Central, they get the East winner in a best-of-5 series, with the possibility that Verlander could start twice. If he wins twice, the Tigers would need just one win in any of the other three games to advance.

That's exactly what happened in the first round last year. The East winner, the Rays, lost twice to Cliff Lee. The Rays won two of the other three games against the Rangers, but it wasn't enough.

Meanwhile, the wild-card Yankees swept past the Twins.

The Yankees always beat the Twins. They did it again Thursday night, their 20th win in their last 23 games against Minnesota, including sweeps in the last two Division Series.

The Red Sox have been nearly as good, with 15 wins in their last 21 games against the Twins.

The Twins don't have a Verlander, or anyone close. In the playoffs, the Twins have had no chance.

Maybe the Tigers wouldn't have a chance, either, even with Verlander. Maybe the Indians or the White Sox will get past the Tigers and win the Central (the Tigers lead the Indians by 1 1/2 games and the White Sox by four, with the Indians coming to Detroit this weekend).

Maybe it's worth it to win the East, anyway, because if the Yankees and Red Sox both advance to the American League Championship Series, the team that wins the division would have home-field advantage.

Maybe.

But it sure would be easier if the Twins were winning the Central.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Someone asked me the other day who starts Game 2 for the Yankees. My answer? Whoever looks best the last two weeks of the season. Maybe that could even be Phil Hughes, who starts Game 2 of this weekend's series, Yankees at Twins, Friday night (8:10 ET) at Target Field. Hughes' 6.55 ERA is the third-worst in the American League (minimum 40 innings) behind the Royals duo of Sean O'Sullivan and Kyle Davies. But Hughes has gone six innings in three straight starts (and four of the last five), allowing two runs or less each time.

2. The first round of the 2008 draft produced Buster Posey, who helped the Giants win the World Series. It produced Lonnie Chisenhall, Gordon Beckham, Ryan Perry and Daniel Schlereth, who are all part of this year's American League Central race. It produced Brett Lawrie, who the first-place Brewers traded to the Blue Jays to get Shaun Marcum. And it produced Wade Miley, the 24-year-old left-hander the first-place Diamondbacks called up when Jason Marquis broke his leg last Sunday. Miley, who grew up in Louisiana as a Braves fan, makes his big-league debut in Diamondbacks at Braves, Saturday afternoon (7:10 ET) at Turner Field. Miley will face Brandon Beachy, who was also eligible for that 2008 draft. He didn't go in the first round -- or any round -- and the Braves signed him as an undrafted free agent.

3. Tiger manager Jim Leyland reworked his rotation to make sure Verlander pitched against the Indians last week, and Verlander's win kept the Indians from a three-game sweep. Leyland chose not to rework his rotation again this week, and that means Rick Porcello will face Ubaldo Jimenez in Indians at Tigers, Sunday afternoon (1:05 ET) at Comerica Park. The Tigers are 14-9 with Porcello starting, but in 12 starts since June 12, Porcello has a 6.35 ERA. Verlander, who last pitched Tuesday (beating the Twins) is scheduled to start Monday night at Tampa Bay.



Posted on: August 7, 2011 7:44 pm
Edited on: August 7, 2011 7:45 pm
 

3 to Watch: The new rivalry edition

You're tired of Yankees-Red Sox.

You tell us that all the time. There are other teams. There are other rivalries.

There's Cardinals-Cubs. No, wait. Not this year.

There's Cardinals-Reds. No, wait. Not this month.

There's Cardinals-Brewers.

Let's go with that one, especially this week. Let's see if Ron Roenicke complains about the lights at Busch Stadium (as Tony La Russa did last week in Milwaukee). Let's see if anybody throws up and in to Albert Pujols, Ryan Braun (as happened last week), or even perhaps to Yuniesky Betancourt.

Let's see if any of the Cardinals fight -- with the Brewers, or with each other (as also happened last week).

And let's see if the Brewers can take control of the National League Central, or if the Cardinals can keep the race close.

Cardinals-Brewers may not have the history of Yankees-Red Sox, but right now it has a lot more emotion. And a lot more at stake, because unlike the Yanks and Sox, neither of these teams is close to being guaranteed a playoff spot.

Besides, Cardinals-Brewers has La Russa, just as those every one of those other National League Central rivalries did.

"The Cardinals seem to be the common thread is all these things," Lance Berkman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last week.

He's right, and there are at least two reasons for that.

First, the Cardinals have had a winning record 11 of the last 12 years, so they're almost always in the race to the end. Second, they have La Russa, the manager who gets a lot of credit for all that winning but also for all that anger.

The Cardinals had some history with the Brewers, even before last week's eventful series at Miller Park.

The Cardinals see the Brewers as kids who don't take the game seriously and don't know how to win. The Brewers see the Cardinals as bullies who don't like to have fun.

It's a rivalry, and for now, it's the best we're going to get.

The Yankees and Red Sox don't play again for another three weeks.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. The Giants have lost eight of 10. The Pirates have lost 10 in a row. The Giants can barely score a run. The Pirates have allowed as many runs in the last 10 games as any team has in any 10-game span this year. The Giants have a very real chance to be in the playoffs. The Pirates have a very real chance to finish the year with a losing record -- again. And if the Pirates don't win a game in the series that begins with Pirates at Giants, Monday night (10:15 ET) at AT&T Park, they'll equal their longest losing streak in 56 years.

2. The Brewers traded for Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum last winter. The Cardinals traded for Edwin Jackson this summer. Marcum and Jackson meet up in Brewers at Cardinals, Tuesday night (8:15 ET) at Busch Stadium. Last week in Milwaukee, Jackson allowed 10 runs in seven innings on a day when the Cardinals had a tired bullpen. A day earlier, Marcum allowed six runs in six innings, leaving with a 7-6 lead that the Brewer bullpen couldn't hold.

3. Detroit and Cleveland are close enough geographically to be rivals (2 1/2 hours by car, ballpark to ballpark). The problem is that they've basically never been good at the same time. When the Tigers were winning in the '80s, the Indians were losing 100 games. When the Indians won 99 games in 1996, the Tigers lost 109. The Indians were good in the mid-1950s, and the Tigers were good in the late 1960s. They finished 1-2 in the American League Central in 2007, but that race was never really close in September. Maybe this one will be, especially if Ubaldo Jimenez makes a difference. Jimenez, who makes his Indians home debut in Tigers at Indians, Wednesday night (7:05 ET) at Progressive Field, already owns a win over Detroit this year. He gave up three runs in five innings in a June start for the Rockies in Colorado, winning 5-4. The Indians need Jimenez to pitch like an ace. The Tigers already have an ace, Justin Verlander, who starts against the Indians on Thursday



Posted on: August 4, 2011 9:09 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2011 10:16 pm
 

3 to Watch: The second wild card (now!) edition

The teams with the two best records in the American League meet this weekend, and it means next to nothing.

Baseball's top rivalry resumes this weekend, with first place on the line, except that in this case, second place is basically as good as first.

If commissioner Bud Selig has the best interests of baseball in mind, he'll forget about Alex Rodriguez's supposed poker games, and do the one thing that would make this version of Yankees-Red Sox truly important.

Can we get the second wild-card team added for this year?

I realize it can't happen. I realize baseball is heading towards adding the second wild-card team in 2012, and that's the best we're going to get.

But if you're one of those who still don't believe in the concept, just look at what the current system has done to a series that should be great.

The Red Sox and Yankees have been separated by no more than 2 1/2 games in the standings since the middle of May. The Red Sox have dominated the first nine head-to-head meetings, winning eight of them, but the Yankees have done better against everyone else.

The Red Sox have been winning like crazy, but so have the Yankees.

It's a great race, except for one thing: They're both going to the playoffs, and there's only a minimal reward for winning the division rather than the wild card.

In fact, if the season ended today, the division winner would play the Tigers, which means facing Justin Verlander twice in a five-game series. The wild card would play the Rangers, who may be better overall, but don't have a Verlander-like ace.

A second wild-card team solves most of this.

With a second wild-card, winning the division means avoiding a one-game play-in against a team like the Angels. It means not just an extra day of rest, but also the chance to save your best available pitcher for the first game of the Division Series.

Yes, the Yankees already want to beat the Red Sox, and vice versa. But in the current system, in a year like this, with both teams nearly guaranteed a playoff spot and little distinction between a division winner and a wild card, there's very little penalty for not winning the division.

And that's too bad.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. When the Yankees didn't trade for a starting pitcher at the deadline, general manager Brian Cashman suggested that Bartolo Colon would be as good a No. 2 starter as anyone he could acquire. So let's see how Colon matches up against Jon Lester, his mound opponent in Yankees at Red Sox, Friday night (7:10 ET) at Fenway Park. Lester has won both his starts against the Yankees this year, despite giving up seven runs in 12 innings. He's won his last five starts against the Yankees, dating back to last year. Colon has lost both of his 2011 starts against the Red Sox, despite going 10 1/3 innings and allowing just three earned runs.

2. One of those pitchers the Yankees passed on, and the only one who realistically could have slotted as a No. 2 starter, was Ubaldo Jimenez, who debuts for Cleveland in Indians at Rangers, Friday night (8:05 ET) at Rangers Ballpark. He faces Derek Holland, who has three complete-game shutouts in his last five starts, and also shut out the Indians in June at Progressive Field.

3. The Phillies broke their five-year string of trading for a starting pitcher at midseason, in large part because they knew Roy Oswalt was coming back from the disabled list. The Phillies also decided against trading for a reliever, in part because Oswalt's return means that either he or Vance Worley can move to the bullpen for the playoffs. Oswalt returns from the DL in Phillies at Giants, Sunday afternoon (4:05 ET) at AT&T Park. Tim Lincecum, the guy Charlie Manuel said was "good, not great," starts for the Giants.

Posted on: July 31, 2011 9:52 pm
Edited on: August 1, 2011 5:26 pm
 

3 to Watch: The rich don't get richer edition

The Yankees always get what they want, right?

The Yankees and Red Sox get everything. The rich get richer.

Except when they don't.

In a week where the Nationals briefly acted as buyers (sending minor leaguers to the Reds for bench player Jonny Gomes), and where the Indians and the Pirates were both buyers, the Yankees were . . . silent?

And the Red Sox were . . . not silent, but they didn't really get what they wanted.

That's not to say that the Yankees are in trouble, or that the Red Sox are. That's not to say that the Yankees have suddenly become cheap, or that the Red Sox have, either.

Just don't say they always get what they want, or even what they need.

The Red Sox came closer, with their deadline-beating three-team deal for Erik Bedard. Bedard was awful in his Friday night showcase, but he was very good earlier in the season.

But with Monday's news about Clay Buchholz -- CSN New England reported that he has a stress fracture in his back, and could be out for the year -- the Sox were more determined to add a starter than the Yankees were. In fact, CSNNE's Sean McAdam wrote, the Sox actually wanted to add two starters, and settled for one possibly healthy one (Bedard).

The Yankees were much more content to stick with what they have. But should they have been.

The Red Sox are at least solid atop their rotation, with Jon Lester and Josh Beckett. The Yankees can rely on CC Sabathia.

And . . .

That's it, really. The Yankees can rely on CC Sabathia.

They don't have a true No. 2. They have Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon as amazing surprises. They have A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes as amazing enigmas. They have Ivan Nova and perhaps Manuel Banuelos as talented but really untested kids.

But who starts Game 2?

Now you understand why Cliff Lee's decision to sign with the Phillies last December was so potentially devastating to the Yankees.

They were left taking a chance that a top starter would be available on the July market. They were left trying to decide if Ubaldo Jimenez or Hiroki Kuroda (who, in the end, refused to consider any trade) would fit.

"If those are the two guys, I would live with what I have," one rival scout said in the middle of last week. "And then hope that A.J. pitches better, which he probably won't."

Did the Yankees go wrong at the deadline? Only if they don't win.

Check back at the end of September, or sometime in October.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Sabathia pitched like a true ace in July (with a 0.92 ERA in five starts). Now that they passed up on trading for help, they sure as heck need him to pitch like an ace the rest of the way, starting in Yankees at White Sox, Monday night (8:10 ET) at U.S. Cellular Field. The White Sox have every bit as big a need for Jake Peavy to pitch well, and more than that for him to stay healthy. The White Sox traded away Edwin Jackson, which gave them bullpen help (in Jason Frasor) and some payroll relief, but it left them with little rotation protection, in case the fragile Peavy gets hurt again.

2. The Tigers' acquisition of Doug Fister understandably got far less attention than the Indians' trade for Jimenez. But Fister serves almost as important a role for the Tigers as Jimenez does for the Indians. The Tigers are 4-16 when they've used a fifth starter, which means that even if Fister is decent, starting in Rangers at Tigers, Wednesday night (7:05 ET) at Comerica Park, he'll be a huge improvement. The Rangers explored adding a starter, too, but settled for making significant bullpen upgrades with Mike Adams and Koji Uehara.

3. The Indians announced Monday that Jimenez won't make his Cleveland debut until Friday in Texas. But Bedard will make his Boston debut a night earlier, in Indians at Red Sox, Thursday night (7:10 ET) at Fenway Park. That series, between one of the American League's true powers and a team that wants to be thought of the same way, sure became a lot more interesting with what the Indians did Saturday night. By Thursday, the Red Sox should know for sure about Buchholz, and maybe Thursday's game will give them some idea whether Bedard will really help.




Posted on: July 30, 2011 8:10 pm
Edited on: July 30, 2011 11:14 pm
 

Indians stun baseball with deal for Jimenez

In the most stunning move of an already stunning season, the Indians have acquired ace right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez from the Rockies.

The teams announced the trade at the end of a wild night, saying it was pending a physical exam by the Cleveland medical staff on Sunday. Jimenez took the mound for the Rockies one final time Saturday night in San Diego, pitching one uninspired inning as the teams put the final touches on the trade. The deal, which originally appeared to be for three players, was expanded by adding a fourth player before it was finalized.

Jimenez came off the mound at the end of the first inning, and got a hug from manager Jim Tracy and his Rockies teammates.

The Indians agreed to trade both of their top two pitching prospects, Drew Pomeranz and Alex White, along with minor-league first baseman Matt McBride and a fourth player to the Rockies in exchange for Jimenez, the top pitcher on the July market. Pomeranz will be listed officially as a player to be named later, because he signed out of the draft last Aug. 15 and technically can't be traded until this Aug. 15.

The Indians lost 93 games last year and went into this season with low expectations. But they've spent much of the year in first place in the weak American League Central, and began play Saturday night two games behind the first-place Tigers.

The Rockies were the team that entered the season with high expectations, but after a strong start, they have fallen far behind the Giants in the National League West. Now they've agreed to trade their top starting pitcher, although they did so for an impressive package of prospects.

White and the Pomeranz, both 22 years old, have been described by rival scouts as potential top of the rotation starters. White made his big-league debut this year, while Pomeranz moved from Class A up to Double-A Akron. White was the Indians' first-round draft pick in 2009, and Pomeranz was picked in the first round a year later.

White has been on the disabled list with a finger problem, but he was due to make a rehabilitation appearance Saturday night at Akron. Pomeranz was scheduled to start that game for the Double-A Aeros, and when he and McBride were scratched, it was the first real sign that Jimenez was headed to Cleveland.

Jimenez is 27 years old, and he is signed through next year with a club option for 2013. Because of that contract, which is considered very team-friendly, the Indians felt comfortable trading two huge parts of their future. Jimenez obviously gives them a much better chance to win the division this year, and they felt he will give them a real chance the next two seasons, as well.

The Indians were able to keep their major-league team intact, and able to keep their two top position-player prospects, Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis, out of the trade.

The Rockies talked to many teams about Jimenez, including the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Reds, Rangers and Blue Jays. They always believed that the Yankees were capable of putting together the best package, but Yankees general manager Brian Cashman insisted on protecting his top prospects.



Posted on: July 29, 2011 10:20 pm
 

Jimenez: Tigers out, at least for now

The Tigers, trying hard to add a starting pitcher before Sunday's non-waiver deadline, circled back late this week to make another run at Ubaldo Jimenez, the Rockies right-hander who is the best starter on the market.

By Friday night, it appeared that attempt had failed.

According to sources, the Tigers were once again basically out of the Jimenez derby, with the door remaining only slightly open for the Tigers to come back for another try. That appears unlikely, and the Rockies were proceeding with the idea that Jimenez likely gets dealt to the Yankees, the Red Sox or to no one. The Indians and other teams have been involved in Jimenez talks, but as of Friday night, those talks seemed to be quiet.

It's not clear how strong the interest is from either New York or Boston, but both teams could use the rotation upgrade that Jimenez would provide. The Rockies have long regarded the Yankees as being the best fit, because of the wealth of prospects they could choose from, but talks between the two teams haven't been that smooth.

The Red Sox could be more motivated, with the news that Clay Buchholz is headed to California for an exam by noted back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins.

The Tigers were in on Jimenez early, but sources said that the Rockies weren't high on the Tiger prospects. It's believed that they insisted that top prospect Jacob Turner be included in any offer, and Jon Heyman of SI.com reported that they at one point asked for Turner and either Rick Porcello or Max Scherzer.

The Tigers could hardly include one of their big-league starters, since their rotation isn't deep enough, as is. The Tigers are just 4-16 when they use their fifth starter.
 
 
 
 
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