Tag: Ubaldo Jimenez

Resurgent Ubaldo Jimenez Emerging as Secret Weapon in Orioles’ October Hunt

Unlikely heroes rise in the postseason.

With the Baltimore Orioles fighting for their playoff lives, right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez is getting an early start.

Jimenez twirled 6.2 scoreless frames Thursday in the Orioles’ 4-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays, allowing one hit with three walks and five strikeouts.

The win moved the O’s (87-72) into a tie with Toronto for the American League‘s top wild-card spot and 1.5 games ahead of the Detroit Tigers, the closest WC competition.

The Orioles finish the season with three games in the Bronx against the dangerous New York Yankees. The Jays get three on the road against the division-winning and possibly complacent Boston Red Sox, while the Tigers take on the cellar-dwelling Atlanta Braves.

Baltimore’s work isn’t finished, in other words. There’s a scenario where the club sits at home for most of October.

If the Orioles do flutter into the playoffs, however, Jimenez’s resurgence will be an unexpected boon—and a serious secret weapon.

His overall numbers aren’t pretty. The 32-year-old owns an 8-12 record and 5.44 ERA through 142.1 innings. He hasn’t posted a sub-4.00 ERA since 2013.

Lately, though, Jimenez has resembled the pitcher who once upon a time made the All-Star team and finished in the top five in Cy Young Award balloting with the Colorado Rockies in 2010.

Since the All-Star break, Jimenez owns a 2.82 ERA, tops among Baltimore starters. 

He threw into the sixth inning or later in each of his last seven starts and mixed in a complete game Sept. 5 against the Tampa Bay Rays.

A formerly good but recently blah hurler on a mini hot streak wouldn’t grab headlines on most contenders. The Orioles, though, are so hard up for starting pitching that Jimenez’s roll counts as a revelation.

Baltimore starters own the third-worst ERA (4.77) in the AL and are easily the worst among postseason hopefuls in both leagues.

Chris Tillman has been a mixed bag since returning from the disabled list. Kevin Gausman has yielded 17 hits and nine earned runs in his last two decisions, both losses. Dylan Bundy, Yovani Gallardo and Wade Miley are all covered with warts.

There isn’t a clearor even murkyace in the bunch. 

It’s asking a lot to expect Jimenez to become that ace. A promising half and handful of superlative starts don’t erase years of mediocrity.

But Jimenez, as Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun noted, has “found the command of his sinker and been able to effectively utilize his breaking ball off that.”  

He’s harnessing his stuff, even as his velocity remains consistent with the past couple of seasons. And he’s concurrently gaining swagger. 

“When things are going good, you feel confidence,” Jimenez said, per Encina. “You don’t have to get on the mound and wonder what is going to happen. Even before you get on the mound, you know you’re going to be able to compete and you feel good mentally, physically, everything is good.”

The O’s reportedly tinkered with Jimenez’s delivery in mid-August, and the stats suggest it helped, as ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark noted:

The Orioles can hit. They rank third in the AL in OPS (.760) and pace baseball with 247 home runs. The bullpen is an asset, fronted by the three-headed hydra of Mychal Givens, Brad Brach and Zach Britton.

But it’s tough, if not impossible, to make a deep run without at least a couple of reliable starters. A few months ago, the idea that Jimenez could fill that role would have seemed absurd.

Now, as the autumn leaves turn and the lights get brighter, he’s doing a credible impression of an unlikely hero.

Which is exactly what Baltimore needs.


All statistics and standings current as of Thursday and courtesy of MLB.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

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Baltimore Orioles Players Who Are in Serious Danger of Being Cut or Demoted

It’s an exciting time for baseball fans.

Spring training games around MLB have begun, as fans now have the privilege of witnessing somewhat meaningful baseball for the first time since the World Series.

The Baltimore Orioles are hoping that the spring exhibition schedule provides some answers for the team’s roster construction. As much of the roster is already set and most players tend to know their roles, there are still a few openings and some questions to be solved.

Manager Buck Showalter will use his time this spring wisely to determine who deserves to head to Tampa Bay with the O’s for Opening Day on April 6.

Unfortunately for some guys, that means that they’re at risk of being cut or demoted by the team. But that’s the business, and the O’s are going to break camp with the best 25 ballplayers that they have.

Let’s take a look at some players who are at risk of being cut or demoted by the O’s due to the nature of roster battles in spring camp.

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Why an Andre Ethier-for-Ubaldo Jimenez Swap Makes Sense for Everyone Involved

There’s a deal to be made between the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers that sends Andre Ethier to the reigning champs in the AL East, but, as Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe points out, the more than $50 million that remains on the outfielder’s contract complicates things.

Ethier plans on being a starter in 2015—whether it be for the Dodgers or another team—as he told the Los Angeles Times‘ Steve Dilbeck this past December. Even after trading Matt Kemp to San Diego, Ethier sits behind Carl Crawford, Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson on Los Angeles’ depth chart.

He could start in Baltimore, where he’d be an immediate upgrade over Travis Snider, currently penciled in as the starter in right field. While his numbers last year were mediocre (.249 BA, .691 OPS), one of his former coaches tells Cafardo that’s due to a lack of playing time:

He’s a guy who has to play a lot to get into a rhythm. If he doesn’t, like last season, he’s not going to produce. The more he hits against lefties, the more comfortable he gets against them. He needs to be an everyday player.

There’s more than a little truth to that. Take a look at Ethier‘s numbers when he was a fixture in the starting lineup, logging more than 500 at-bats a season.

To be sure, that was a younger, faster, stronger version of Ethier than the player he is today—but entering his age-33 season and with no major injuries on his resume, there’s no reason to believe that he couldn’t still be productive with regular playing time.

As for Ubaldo Jimenez, who sits on the outside of Baltimore’s rotation looking in at the moment, he’d provide insurance for the Dodgers at the back end of the rotation—neither Brett Anderson nor Brandon McCarthy are what you’d call durable.

But adding Jimenez would accomplish more than that.

Currently, the Dodgers have Juan Nicasio in line to be the team’s long reliever/sixth starter, and they could keep him there, opting instead to add one of the free-agent relievers still sitting on the open market—a list that includes Joba Chamberlain, Francisco Rodriguez and Rafael Soriano.

But by slotting Jimenez in that role instead, it would free up Nicasio to serve in middle relief, where he’s proven to be more effective, albeit over a small sample size:

That jump in performance wasn’t lost on ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon or Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi:

After the All-Star break last year, he pitched exclusively in relief and had a 3.48 ERA in 19 games. According to Fangraphs, Nicasio‘s average fastball was 92.7 mph last season, but it ticked up to 95 mph when he pitched in relief.

“His stuff and performance played up in that role,” Zaidi said.

Financially, both players are due significant money through 2017—$38.75 million for Jimenez, $56 million for Ethier (including a $2.5 million buyout of his $17.5 million team option for 2018).

Baltimore isn’t going to take on an additional $17.25 million in current and future payroll, even if it would help the club defend its division crown. But if the Dodgers were to include, say, $10 million in the deal, it would help to offset that additional cost. 

In that scenario, the Orioles would only be adding an additional $7.25 million—spread across three years—to their current payroll. That’s far more doable, even as the team awaits a resolution to its television rights dispute with MLB and the Washington Nationals.

Of course, the Dodgers aren’t in the habit of just handing out wads of cash, and they’re going to want something of value for including that money in a deal. Enter the always-popular player-to-be-named-later, to be chosen from an agreed-upon list of five mid-level prospects at a later date.

So the final deal would look something like this:

Dodgers Get: RHP Ubaldo Jimenez and a PTBNL

Orioles Get: OF Andre Ethier and $10 million

Los Angeles strengthens its pitching staff, removes a potential malcontent from the clubhouse and saves a few million dollars in the long run, while Baltimore adds a veteran outfielder capable of helping to replace the production lost when Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz departed as free agents at a minimal cost.

Would it be a gamble on the part of both teams? Absolutely—Ethier and Jimenez could continue to struggle. But they could also be rejuvenated by a change in scenery, which would find both teams walking away from this deal feeling good about their return.

It’s what makes this a gamble worth taking.


Unless otherwise linked/noted, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs. All contract information courtesy of Cot’s Contracts.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Cole Hamels, Ubaldo Jimenez and More

The trade market is rich with talented arms and bats who could find themselves packing their bags and changing cities over the course of the next few months.

The MLB rumor mill has exploded since the 2014 World Series concluded at the end of October, and teams have already begun the long process of calling opposing general managers in hopes of retooling their rosters. Of course, not every player will be made available.

Baseball analysts churn out rumors with such regularity this time of year that it can be hard to decipher which ones have some truth. Below we examine three rumors to help you better gauge their respective situations.


Cole Hamels

Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that Philadelphia Phillies ace Cole Hamels has it all—except maybe the desired uniform on his back:

You can’t have Hollywood looks, marry a gorgeous actress, have two beautiful kids, sign a six-year, $144 million contract extension, and suddenly get sympathy cards because you’re employed by the Phillies.

Hamels knows he can’t say a word.

Yet, if his world could possibly be a little more perfect, he’d love to be traded this winter.

Hamels’ desire to play for a winner will ultimately dictate his next home. He has a no-trade clause which allows him to veto trades to 20 teams, so expect him to exercise that power if the Phillies agree to a deal with a less-than-stellar club.

Moving Hamels will be hard for the Phillies because of what he has done for the team, but NBC Sports’ Craig Calcaterra perfectly summed up the sentimental hardships that surround teams looking to rebuild: “If you’re going to rebuild, move your most valuable guys and get the most you can. Maybe that’s just one prospect and some role players, but clearing the salary and committing to the future requires you to part with things you love.”

Hamels is certainly loved in Philly.

The most talked-about pitcher on the trade market, Hamels represents an alternative option for teams who don’t want to negotiate with free agents Jon Lester, Max Scherzer and James Shields. Hamels has four years and $96 million remaining on his contract, but the Phillies would likely pick up a small portion of that contract in order to receive stronger prospects in return.

This newest wrinkle in Hamels’ availability is interesting. We already knew that the Phillies were looking to deal their top assets, but to hear that Hamels would also welcome a trade means that the likelihood of a move has increased.

With this knowledge of Hamels’ desire to play somewhere else, expect several more teams in search of a lefty ace to give Ruben Amaro a call.

It appears as if the chances of a move by the end of the offseason are increasing by the day.


Ubaldo Jimenez

Ubaldo Jimenez was one of the biggest busts of the previous offseason. The big right-hander earned a four-year, $50 million contract from the Baltimore Orioles with the expectation that he’d help anchor the pitching staff.

He did nothing but struggle. He was so bad that he was entirely left off the American League Championship Series roster. He was on the Division Series roster but didn’t throw a single pitch.

Zach Britton, the team’s closer, told Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports how manager Buck Showalter manages his bullpen in the playoffs. It explains why Jimenez wasn’t utilized. “He’s going to throw the best guy for the situation. If that’s you, you’re going into the game,” Britton said.

Overall, he posted a 4.81 ERA on the year. His FIP of 4.67 suggested that mark was pretty accurate. He also walked 77 in 125.1 innings, which is unacceptable. It’s no wonder Showalter was afraid to put him in a game.

Naturally, the Orioles could look to move him. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that the Miami Marlins have shown interest:

The Marlins are believed to be interested in a couple of pitchers who could be on the trading block — the Orioles’ Ubaldo Jimenez and Reds’ Johnny Cueto

Jimenez would represent an expensive option for the Marlins, who are looking for a veteran pitcher to add to their rotation. The 30-year-old right-hander is still owed $39 million over the next three years.

It’s unclear as to what the Orioles could ask for Jimenez. His value is certainly at its lowest, so the team could simply ask the Marlins to take on the contract and throw a mid-level prospect their way.

Of course, Jimenez is the ultimate question mark. His career has been mired by inconsistency, so the Orioles could attempt to sell him as a bounce-back candidate.

Jimenez seems like a risky option for a Marlins team without much of a payroll but could really boost that rotation if he can pitch like he did in 2013 for the Cleveland Indians.


Howie Kendrick

The free-agent market for second basemen is thin. Emilio Bonifacio and Asdrubal Cabrera represent the top options, and it’s safe to say that teams might not feel comfortable devoting the money that the market will inevitably dictate to them.

Even if they aren’t top-tier second baseman, they’ll command decent money as the top players available at the position.

Naturally, teams will look to trade for a second baseman instead. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that two teams have already checked in on Howie Kendrick, who is possibly the best at the position available via trade: “The Yankees and Blue Jays are among teams that have called about Kendrick,” he wrote.

Kendrick is coming off one of his best seasons in the bigs. If the Los Angeles Angels choose to move him (they don’t have to, of course), it’s not going to be without a large return. 

Still, Kendrick represents one of the more affordable options on the market. He’s due to make just $9.5 million in 2015, a bargain compared to other players with similar production.

It will certainly take some young players who are ready to contribute at the next level to make this work. Kendrick is the type of talent who is hard to replace, so the Angels will need immediate help at the big league level.


Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @kennydejohn

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Ubaldo Jimenez Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz, Speculation Surrounding Orioles SP

After just one season, the Baltimore Orioles may be ready to part ways with starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez.

According to MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby, via MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli, the O’s are actively shopping the 30-year-old veteran:

Although Dan Duquette hit a home run with the Nelson Cruz signing last winter, he seems to be accepting defeat on this one.

Duquette and the Orioles tossed four years and $50 million at Jimenez, who followed up a pair of mediocre seasons with a solid 2013 campaign that saw him finish with a 3.30 ERA and a career-high 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings in Cleveland.

But he plummeted back to replacement-level status in ’14, going 6-9 with a 4.81 ERA, 1.52 WHIP and a horribly wild 5.5 walks per nine. The latter was a career-worst, even for Jimenez, who has always struggled with his control.

As Ghiroli noted, with Jimenez being owed just over $38 million over the next three seasons, the O’s will have to work to find a trade partner:

Duquette and Co. will have to either pay a portion of his contract or throw in a mid-level prospect to make something happen, but cutting their losses could be worth it to free up some room on the books.

Any potential suitors, on the other hand, would be taking a risk in hopes Jimenez could find his 2013 form in a new environment.

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Orioles’ Ubaldo Jimenez Risk Is One They Needed to Make to Be Taken Seriously

After a winter of discontent in Charm City, the Baltimore Orioles took a talented team into spring training without adequate offseason additions. By shelling out a long-term deal for Ubaldo Jimenez, the team took a worthwhile risk.

Barring a snafu with a physical—something always possible in Baltimore—the Orioles landed a top-of-the-rotation arm. The news, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, rewards patience for a fanbase that had difficulty watching their team remain dormant for most of the winter.

If baseball had been listening, this move wouldn’t have come as a surprise. Orioles general manager Dan Duquette told Jonah Keri of Grantland that the team payroll could come close to $100 million before Opening Day:

We’ve got a budget where we can compete in the East. We operate within the market. That’s the right way to go about it. We put significant resources into the current team, into re-signing guys. A lot of guys are getting raises because they’re doing well. Through careful reinvestments, we’ve built a contending team, and we’re confident we’ll do that again this year.

After avoiding arbitration with Matt Wieters, Baltimore sat at just less than $80 million with six weeks until the start of the regular season. If an option presented itself, the Orioles were poised to pounce. 

To be fair, Jimenez isn’t perfect. If he was, the draft-pick compensation attached to his free agency wouldn’t have mattered and a contract in excess of $100 million would have arrived in his agent’s mailbox within the first few weeks of the hot-stove season. 

Over the last four years, Jimenez has been one of the most confounding starters in baseball. When he’s good, few pitchers are more dominant. Yet, when he’s not, it’s hard to justify keeping him around for more than one season. By offering Jimenez a four-year pact, the Orioles are betting big on his good side.

When the 30-year-old right-hander arrives in Sarasota, Fla., to join his new teammates, he’ll find a franchise eerily similar to himself: talented, yet flawed.

Despite winning 93 and 85 games, respectively, over the last two years, it’s hard to find a good word written about the Orioles’ trajectory or 2014 outlook.

Part of that was due to a confounding offseason in which Jim Johnson was traded away, Nate McLouth was allowed to depart in free agency and little groundwork was reported on long-term deals for talents like Chris Davis and Matt Wieters.

Another major part of the doom and gloom surrounding Baltimore’s chances in the AL East: starting pitching.

Or, a lack of high-end starting pitching. 

Despite playing winning baseball in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1996-1997, the Orioles didn’t impress analysts. Led by Buck Showalter’s preparedness and an outstanding offense, the team overcame poor starting pitching to contend in two consecutive years.

How poor? Baltimore’s starters pitched to a 4.42 ERA in 2012, good for 21st in the sport. Last year, that number rose to 4.57 and 27th in baseball. Only the Astros, Blue Jays and Twins posted worse ERAs last season. In reality, the Orioles should have been praised for winning so often despite awful starting pitching.

Jimenez might not be the cure to everything that ails Baltimore, but he’s a significant upgrade. Based on his performance in 2013, the Orioles just signed one of the best and most unique pitchers in the world. 

Last year, only seven starting pitchers made 30 starts, posted an ERA of 3.30 or better and struck out at least one batter per inning. The first six names on that list (subscription required)—Yu Darvish, Max Scherzer, Chris Sale, Felix Hernandez, A.J. Burnett and Stephen Strasburg—aren’t hard to guess. Outside of Burnett, they’ve profiled as dominant pitchers on a yearly basis.

The last man among that septet: Ubaldo Jimenez.

No right-minded baseball fan would bet on Jimenez to match Sale, Hernandez or Strasburg in production over the next four years. Quite honestly, Jimenez’s biggest supporters wouldn’t even make that claim.

Yet, the Orioles didn’t sign him to win a Cy Young or match the best arms in baseball on a pitch-by-pitch basis. Instead, he’s been brought into Baltimore to upgrade a rotation that has been holding back a tremendous core of offensive talent. 

From Chris Davis to Adam Jones to J.J. Hardy to Nick Markakis to Matt Wieters, Baltimore’s core of position players are all between the ages of 27 and 31. That group doesn’t even include 21-year-old phenom Manny Machado. By the end of 2014, he could supplant his elders as the best player on the roster. As they smash the ball around Camden Yards, the team needed to support their efforts with capable starting pitching.

A quick peak at the new-look Orioles rotation gives a glimpse as to what Baltimore has built around them.

Led by Jimenez and 2013 All-Star Chris Tillman, the rotation has a chance to surprise. Right now, neither of Baltimore’s top pitching prospects—Kevin Gausman or Dylan Bundy—are projected to be part of the rotation when camp breaks. Gausman has all the ability to win the No. 5 starter job. Bundy, recovering from Tommy John surgery, could force his way into the mix by mid-summer.

Jimenez or not, the Orioles won’t be confused with the rotations assembled in Washington, Detroit or Los Angeles. That doesn’t mean that the Orioles aren’t deserving of baseball’s attention right now, though. 

If Jimenez can bring the strikeout rate, durability and second-half dominance (1.72 ERA in 78.1 IP after July 22) he displayed in Cleveland last summer, the Orioles may have done enough to improve a team that’s averaged 89 victories over the last two years. 

Awarding close to $50 million, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, to a pitcher that owns one of the worst strikeout-to-walk ratios over the last decade comes with significant risk (subscription required). Over the next four years, Jimenez could pitch down to his 2011-2012 standards (5.03 ERA), pitting this deal as a disaster for Duquette and Baltimore’s front office.

The risk associated with this deal is evident, but so is the upside. If Jimenez performs admirably, the Orioles can contend in the AL East and for a spot in October.

For a franchise that hasn’t won a postseason series since 1997, the time is now to command respect and show baseball that there’s a team to be taken seriously in Baltimore.

Agree? Disagree? 

Comment, follow me on Twitter or “like” my Facebook page to talk about all things baseball. 

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted. All contract figures courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts. Arbitration numbers and projections courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors. Roster projections courtesy of MLB Depth Charts.

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Ubaldo Jimenez and Orioles Agree on 4-Year Contract

The Baltimore Orioles and free-agent pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez have reportedly agreed to a four-year contract, according to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal on Twitter:

Bob Nightengale of USA Today provides more specifics on the terms of the deal:

Orioles manager Buck Showalter commented on the signing of Jimenez (via Eduardo A Encina of the Baltimore Sun):

Signing Jimenez, who is tied to draft compensation, means that the Orioles will lose their 17th overall draft pick. But as executive vice president Dan Duquette pointed out ahead of the announcement, Baltimore’s need for starting pitching left it with little choice but to look into acquiring the Dominican Republic native, per Rosenthal

I’ve said all along that we would take a look at it. We do have a little bit better talent base in our organization. Our scouts have done a decent job recruiting internationally as well as domestically. With the maturity of our team, we have to take a look at it.

The 30-year-old right-hander spent the past two-and-a-half seasons with the Cleveland Indians after earning an All-Star nod with the Colorado Rockies back in 2010.    

Jimenez is coming off a 2013 season that saw him go 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA and 194 strikeouts. 

For the Orioles, signing Jimenez promises to deliver a huge boost to a pitching staff that struggled immensely in 2013. Baltimore ranked 23rd in the majors last season in team ERA (4.20), and, even worse, 24th in quality starts (78).


While Jimenez has struggled to achieve the same form that earned him a spot in the All-Star Game and National League Cy Young consideration four seasons ago, he brings a durable and reliable starting arm to Charm City. With Baltimore ending its postseason drought in 2012 and looking to compete for a World Series title in 2014, signing Jimenez is without question a commendable move. 

Still, it remains to be seen what sort of focus and energy the veteran will bring next season as he’s landed a coveted long-term contract. 


Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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Predicting 4 Pre-Opening Day Moves That Will Shake Up the League

In most years, the free-agent market would be barren in early February. Roster upgrades would be difficult to find, leaving general managers scouring for low-risk, high-reward options to augment their respective rosters.

This year is different.

With pitchers and catchers reporting over the next week, an abundance of talent is still available on the free-agent market. Sure, the Masahiro Tanakas and Robinson Canos of the world are long gone. That doesn’t mean difference-making players aren’t available.

Between now and March 31—or March 22 and 23 in the case of the Dodgers and Diamondbacks—moves will be made before the season begins. 

The following five teams will all fill holes, add impact players and change their respective outlooks for the 2014 season.


Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted. All contract figures courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

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Philadelphia Phillies’ Best Fallback Pitching Options Following Recent Signings

Barring something unforeseen, the Philadelphia Phillies have settled on their everyday eight in the field for 2014.

Third baseman Cody Asche will join the veteran trio of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins in the infield. Carlos Ruiz and his three-year contract extension will be behind the plate.

Free-agent signing Marlon Byrd will set up shop in the Phillies outfield along with Ben Revere and Domonic Brown.

If you are holding out hope that the Phillies have a blockbuster trade in them, don’t. “We may look to try to improve our lineup somehow or tweak our lineup somehow,” said Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. in the wake of the Ruiz signing.

That does not sound like a man sitting on a bombshell. What you see on the roster is pretty much what you will get, as far as hitters and fielders are concerned.

So the likely adds to the Phillies roster, if any are forthcoming, will be made to the pitching staff.

MLB.com beat writer Todd Zolecki’s recent conversation with Amaro Jr. suggested as much, with Amaro Jr. saying this: 

If we can still improve the rotation and our bullpen, we will try to do that. We had a lot of six-year free agents pitching in the rotation, so we’re going to try and create some depth on the pitching side.

Which pitchers make sense for the Phillies?

Ryan Lawrence’s recent Philadelphia Daily News article named all of the usual suspects. They fall into two categories.

Veteran pitchers who would command short-term, short-money contracts (and come with lower expectations, naturally) include Bronson Arroyo, A.J. Burnett and Ryan Vogelsong.

Phillies fans would probably far prefer a younger, more expensive option who could realistically win 15 games in 2014 if everything breaks right. Names who fit that description are Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Ervin Santana.

In a lot of ways, Jimenez, Garza and Santana are very similar. All three are power arms who have had extended periods of dominance pockmarked by significant stretches where they were injured and/or could not get anyone out.

Given Amaro Jr.’s commitment to winning in 2014—misguided as it may becheaping out on pitching help now would be penny wise and pound foolish.

David Schoenfeld of ESPN.com posted recently to his SweetSpot blog why the Washington Nationals should sign Jimenez over Garza or Santana:

Jimenez is the one who can provide the most upside and probably comes in a little less expensive. Plus he has a rubber arm, having made more than 30 starts six seasons in a row, one of just 13 starters to have done that. Garza has battled some injuries, and Santana has been inconsistent and homer-prone despite playing in pitcher-friendly parks.

Accepting that logic on its face, it is as applicable to the Phillies as it is to the Nationals. Perhaps more so.

The Phillies resisted long-term contracts for pitchers for years due to fear of injury, making Garza an unattractive gamble. And Citizens Bank Park is a bandbox, which suggests that Santana might struggle there.

So Jimenez may well be the right choice. Whether the Phillies can afford him is up to Amaro Jr.

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Which of New York Yankees’ Big-Name Pitching Targets Are the Best Values

In New York, the Yankees are preparing to spend money like it’s 2008 all over again. Five years after drowning their third-place finish sorrows away by spending over $400 million combined on CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett, the Yankees are poised to hand out big-money deals. The names have changed, but the objective remains to spend.

According to CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman, the Yankees are heading to next week’s general manager meetings armed with cash to spend on free agents.

After watching the steady and reliable Andy Pettitte retire and allowing the unsteady and unreliable Phil Hughes to walk away without a qualifying offer, one of general manager Brian Cashman’s main offseason priorities is to find starting pitching behind Sabathia and Ivan Nova in the five-man rotation. Unless Hiroki Kuroda accepts another one-year deal, three potential spots are open.

Even if Michael Pineda emerges from a two-year shoulder rehab to re-capture his 2011 form, the Yankees will need multiple arms to fill out a good rotation. At least one of them will likely emerge from the free-agent market.

Using Heyman’s projected contracts for each of the six starters on New York’s radar, here’s a ranking of the best values of the group. The rankings are based on a 1-10 scale, with higher numbers signifying a better value for the Yankees organization.

Masahiro Tanaka

The 24-year-old Japanese star is the ideal target for New York’s offseason spending plans. As the franchise attempts to spend big while staying under the $189 million luxury tax in 2014, Tanaka represents the best of both worlds.

As chronicled in a September primer, Tanaka profiles as a top-tier starter in the majors. Even if he’s not a true No. 1 starter, adding him to be a No. 2 or No. 3 starter is sufficient for New York’s bottom line. 

According to Heyman, a seven-year, $140 million contract is reasonable for Tanaka, but only half of that will actually go the the player. With $70 million allotted as a posting fee for the rights to speak with Tanaka’s agent, the Yankees would only be spending $10 million per season, against the luxury tax, on a pitcher with the potential to emerge as a valuable contributor.

Value ranking: 8


Matt Garza

Despite including Garza, along with Jacoby Ellsbury, as free-agent targets the Yankees should avoid this winter, he’s the second-best value on this board.

Since becoming a full-time starter in 2008, Garza has amassed a 108 ERA+ over 1,049.1 innings pitched. Although that’s good for third on this list, not including Tanaka’s stats from Japan, behind Jimenez (112) and Haren (111), the former Minnesota Twins, Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers starter has brought something to the table the others have not: consistency.

Despite never accumulating one great season or finishing in the top five of Cy Young voting, Garza has never posted a season with an ERA over 4.00. By maintaining a level performance for six straight seasons, the Yankees will know what they are paying for when offering a contract to the 29-year-old right-handed pitcher.

If Garza’s deal comes in near the five-year, $85 million projection, it will be a decent deal for both player and team.

Value ranking: 6


Dan Haren

When the 2011 season ended, Dan Haren looked like the type of pitcher who was poised to eventually hit the free-agent jackpot. After wrapping up an excellent season for the Los Angeles Angels, Haren was the owner of a career-adjusted ERA of 119, according to Baseball-Reference.com. His ability to pitch in both the NL (Arizona, St. Louis) and the AL (Oakland, Los Angeles) made him one of the surest things in the sport.

Over the last two seasons, however, the wheels have come off for the former right-handed ace. Over 60 starts in 2012 and 2013, Haren pitched to a 84 ERA+ over 346.1 innings, per Baseball-Reference.com. That adjusted ERA was 16 percent below league average. In the span of two years, Haren went from nearly 20 percent better than the average pitcher to nearly 20 percent worse. 

Still, the projection of a one-year deal worth less than $10 million is far from a ridiculous pact. Even though Haren is not the pitcher he was just two seasons ago, he’s still a lock for 30-plus starts every year. If the Yankees truly need two veteran starters, they could do worse than inking Haren to be the second-tier arm. 

Value ranking: 5

Bronson Arroyo

As the offseason unfolds, the Yankees can attempt to fix their rotation issues by acquiring high-end ability (Tanaka, Garza), signing a low-risk, high-reward arm (Haren), or, in a route that won’t be as popular in New York, turning spring training into a competition between young arms like David Phelps and Michael Pineda.

If that’s the route Brian Cashman takes, an ultra-reliable arm will be needed if or when the young arms falter during the rigors of a 162-game season. If innings are needed, Bronson Arroyo fits the bill. Over the last nine years, Arroyo has cleared the 199-inning plateau in every single season. 

Of course, the drawback with Arroyo is a lack of upside. As he gets set to embark on his age-37 season, expecting greatness is foolish. Over 14 seasons, the former Boston Red Sox farmhand has pitched to an adjusted ERA of 104. 

On a one or two-year deal, the fit would be ideal. The projection of a three-year, $35 million pact is too high for a pitcher who has little upside.

Value ranking: 4

Ubaldo Jimenez

Will the real Ubaldo Jimenez please stand up? When baseball executives prepare offer sheets for the free-agent starter, it’s likely the offers will vary based on which version of the pitcher is expected to arrive in 2014.

If the Jimenez of 2010 and 2013 is on the market, he’s worth every dollar of the four-year, $68 million deal that is projected by Jon Heyman. If the Jimenez of 2011 and 2012 is back, anything more than a one-year deal is foolish.

The following chart isolates the contrasting versions of Jimenez. Notice the strikeout and strikeout-to-walk numbers. When the former Colorado Rockies and Cleveland Indians starter has command, he’s excellent. When that command disappears, he’s very easy to hit.

For the money he’ll likely receive, there’s too much variance in performance to be comfortable in New York.

Value ranking: 3

Scott Feldman

Unlike the other pitchers on this list, Feldman doesn’t provide bang for the buck, upside, variance in performance or long-term durability. After 234 outings, Feldman isn’t a surprise anymore. At age 30, the right-handed pitcher should only be brought aboard to compete for a spot in the back-end of a rotation and given no more than a one-year deal.

According to Heyman’s projections, a two-year, $20 million deal could be in his future. For that cash, New York could sign both Haren and Arroyo. 

If February rolls around and Feldman is still available, any team should explore trying to bring him in as spring-training injury insurance or to compete with a young arm on a one-year deal. Until that scenario presents itself, the Yankees would be wise to allocate their funds on an arm who can give them something concrete for the money spent.

Value ranking: 2

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