Enough is Enough—It’s Time to get Ubaldo out of the Rotation
Steve Eby | On 20, Apr 2013
I can’t watch this anymore.
We have all sat by for a season and a half just waiting for Jimenez to finally “get it.” We have been waiting for the Indians bold trade back in July 2011 to bear the fruit that sounded so juicy and tasty, but we have got nothing of what we bargained for. The fruit that we recieved was rotten and had a worm in it.
I take that back…it had 23 worms in it.
The 23 worms stand for the number of losses that Jimenez has given the Cleveland Indians in about a season and two months. The 23 losses compare very poorly to the 13 wins that we’ve seen and Jimenez only seems to be getting worse. His stat line in Cleveland through 45 games is a 13-23 record, a 5.60 ERA, 35 homeruns, a 1.58 WHIP, 132 walks and only 216 strikeouts. His WAR (wins above replacement) is a laughable -1.5.
That’s not ace material. That’s not starting rotation material. That’s not even Major League material.
Jimenez is a terrible pitcher. In fact, he’s quite possibly the worst regular starting pitcher in baseball. The -1.5 WAR says that Jimenez is WORSE than the average minor league schlub that they could throw out there. Yes, Jimenez was good three years ago…but so what? If you count the 2010 All-Star break as the downfall of Jimenez—which most people do—then it has been 1,013 days since he was a good pitcher. I think that once you pass the kilo mark for days being terrible at your job it’s time for the company to make a change.
So what should the Indians do with this guy? We, as fans, have all seen enough, but the pitching-starved Indians owe Jimenez nearly $6 million this season and will probably not be really quick to jump the gun on the pitcher who started their second game of the season. As I see it, there are only about three realistic options in dealing with Jimenez.
1. Cut him.
It may sound strange to think that the Indians would cut a player at a position where they are extremely thin and would have to eat a multi-million dollar contract, but it just shows how bad Jimenez has been. The best option is to cut ties, say goodbye and hope that the door doesn’t hit him in the butt on the way out.
If this happened, Jimenez would be placed on waivers and there is no guarantee that another team would pick him up. Honestly, what team out there would possibly say, “Boy, I can’t wait to get my hands on Ubaldo!” if the Indians released him? I understand that it only takes one team, but why on Earth would anyone want him? Why would a team want the pitcher who led the league in losses (17) and wild pitches (16), had the second worst WHIP of any pitcher last season (1.61) and has gotten booed off of the field in 100% of his home starts this season? A season where Jimenez is currently 0-2 with an 11.25 ERA.
My guess is that there are extremely few or perhaps even zero teams that would want him and that there is a decent chance that he would clear waivers and end up back in the minor leagues with Cleveland. If this were the case, Jimenez could pitch for the majority of the season in the minors and perhaps come back up if he improves later in the season. What is more likely in this scenario, however, is that Jimenez would go to Triple-A Columbus and pitch terribly there as well, in which case we would probably never see him again.
Obviously, if the Indians took Jimenez out of the rotation and off of the roster they would need a replacement. Daisuke Matsuzaka, Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber are all options that are more attractive than Jimenez in different ways.
Bauer, despite all the walks in his Indians debut, has the highest ceiling by any pitcher in the organization and will be given a second chance eventually. He would probably be the best candidate. Kluber is younger than Jimenez and also could deserve a look; bringing me to my point that any other look is at least better looking than Jimenez. Matsuzaka, like Jimenez, had a disastrous season last year with Boston and would need to be added to the 40-man roster, but again, at least he’s not Jimenez.
Carlos Carrasco and his eight game suspension is not an option.
2. Move him to the bullpen.
This scenario is not my favorite and is extremely unlikely anyways, but could be worth thinking about.
Jimenez’s collapse is somewhat similar to what happened to San Francisco Giants pitcher and former two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, although Lincecum’s fall from prominence was much more abrupt. While just about anyone could see Jimenez getting worse and worse, Lincecum fell from being an All-Star and finishing sixth in the Cy Young voting in 2011 to losing 15 of his 33 starts and being left out of the playoff starting rotation for the eventual World Champions.
What happened from there is a fantastic story, especially for Giants fans, as Lincecum dominated out of the bullpen for San Francisco throughout the playoffs and World Series, allowing only three hits, two walks and one run whiles striking out 17 in 13 innings of work. Lincecum’s WHIP was 0.38 and his ERA a stellar 0.69.
I’m not naïve enough to think that Jimenez would match those numbers and immediately become a stellar bullpen arm like Lincecum did, but I do believe that the experiment couldn’t be worse than what is currently happening and is worth a shot. With pardons to Kluber, the Indians really lack a true long relief option, which Jimenez could be if the role was needed. However, the only slim chance of Jimenez succeeding would probably be in a middle relief role, similar to the one that Cody Allen is in now.
If Jimenez could just concentrate on retiring 3-6 batters and not worry about pitching an entire game, it might give him a chance to be successful. He could let loose on the mound, knowing that he does not need to throw 100 pitches, and perhaps gain a few miles per hour back on his fastball that has declined so dramatically since the beginning of the 2011 season. While my opinion of Jimenez ever finding Major League success again seems unlikely, this is the most plausible scenario that I can imagine if it were to happen.
3. Keep him in the rotation and lose.
Sorry, but trading Jimenez is not an option. Outside of Chris Antonetti having incriminating pictures of some other General Manager, there is not enough magic at Hogwarts to allow the Indians to get anything for their free-falling pitcher. We are all just going to have to come to grips with the fact that the Indians received nothing of value for Alex White and Drew Pomeranz.
That being said, if the Indians do not want to eat his salary and he refuses or Terry Francona refuses to pitch him out of the bullpen, then Jimenez will either stay put in the rotation for the foreseeable future and the Indians will lose far more often than they win when he starts.
Unfortunately, barring a trip to the disabled list, this is probably the most likely scenario and is by far my least favorite. Jimenez will probably wander out to the mound every fifth day for a while, walk a ton of people and then get booed when Francona pulls him out of the game.
We’ve all seen this movie before and it doesn’t end pretty.
Photo: Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer