Yankees Trade Rumors: 5 Big Concerns in Dealing the Farm for Ubaldo Jimenez
Everyone has been somewhere—whether it be a party, a concert, a date or just out with friends—where everything is going great, everyone is having a fantastic time, the energy is just right, and then, out of nowhere...BAM!
THAT guy (or gal) walks into the room and everything changes. It's almost as if the joy has been sucked out of the room by some invisible vacuum cleaner—or perhaps by Mega Maid herself.
Sure, everyone is relieved once that person leaves, but it's just not the same after their appearance. No matter how brief it may have been.
Regardless of how hard you try, it's impossible to get that same vibe back again.
We call these people party-poopers, buzz-kills, jerks, and worse.
In the land of the New York Yankees, there is a party going on, a party where fans are drooling and foaming at the mouth over the possibility of acquiring Ubaldo Jimenez, the 27-year-old ace of the Colorado Rockies pitching staff.
Well Yankee fans, call me Buzz Killington, because I'm here to ruin your little get together.
I'm bringing the ants to your picnic, I'm bringing the rain to your barbecue.
I'm the guy who sits behind you at Yankee Stadium decked out in Boston Red Sox gear talking about how Dustin Pedroia is such a "wicked pissah."
After the jump, five things that should make you think twice before jumping on the "We Want Ubaldo" bandwagon.
Against Good Teams...He's Not That Good
Let's say that you are the General Manager of the Yankees, or any team in the American League for that matter.
One of your fellow GM's calls you and says "Hey, I like these four guys in your minor league system. I've got two starters that I am willing to trade...can we make something happen?"
The two pitchers he offers have the following career numbers.
Pitcher A: 26-18, 2.90 ERA, 393.2 IP, 307 H, 159 BB, 331 K, 1.18 WHIP
Pitcher B: 30-27, 4.24 ERA, 456.1 IP, 413 H, 208 BB, 440 K, 1.36 WHIP.
Which pitcher would you trade for?
Pitcher A obviously, even-though his numbers are over approximately 60 fewer innings then Pitcher B.
Now, what if I told you that they were the same pitcher?
Pitcher A is Ubaldo Jimenez against teams with a winning percentage under .500.
Pitcher B is Ubaldo Jimenez against teams with a winning percentage over .500.
How many teams are in the playoffs with losing records?
Against the American League...He's Mediocre
So, seeing as how you are the GM of a baseball team in the AL, you're working late in your office when out of nowhere, you receive three phone calls.
You have been offered three starting pitchers from three different National League teams, all with varying degrees of success against the American League.
The cost to acquire all three is the same: three of your top five pitching prospects and your best offensive prospect.
Their numbers against the AL:
Pitcher A: 6-4, 4.08 ERA, 79.1 IP, 83 H, 28 BB, 64 K, 1.40 WHIP
Pitcher B: 5-6, 3.73 ERA, 89.1 IP, 74 H, 46 BB, 84 K, 1.34 WHIP
Pitcher C: 6-3, 3.14 ERA, 80.1 IP, 66 H, 26 BB, 67 K, 1.15 WHIP.
Obviously your choices are in reverse of how they are listed above—C first, B second, and A as a last resort.
With me so far?
Well they are pitchers B and C, respectively.
Pitcher A, the one you coveted least of all?
His 2010 Season Is Grossly Overrated
There is no denying that Jimenez had one of the most impressive first halves of a season in recent memory last year.
From Opening Day through the All-Star break in July, Jimenez' numbers were insane: 15-1, 2.20 ERA, 127 IP, 87 H, 46 BB, 113 K and a 1.05 WHIP.
From the All-Star break through the end of the 2010 season, Jimenez was nowhere near the same pitcher: 4-7, 3.80 ERA, 94.2 IP, 77 H, 46 BB, 101 K, 1.30 WHIP.
Let's take it a step further.
From the All-Star break in 2010 through today, Jimenez has been mediocre at best: 10-16, 4.00 ERA, 216.2 IP, 193 H, 93 BB, 217 K, 1.30 WHIP.
Wait a second, I thought he was an ace?
Do aces put up losing records and give up four runs a game?
Not for teams contending for a World Series championship they don't.
His Velocity Is Down
In 2010, Jimenez was sitting at 95.8 MPH with his fastball.
In 2011, Jimenez is sitting at 93.9 MPH with his fastball.
A decrease of nearly 2 MPH and over 2 MPH lower then his career average.
His 83.2 slider in 2011? A decrease of over 3 MPH from 2010 and nearly 3 MPH off his career average.
Other pitches in his repertoire—including a changeup and curveball—have seen decreased velocity as well.
Ubaldo Jimenez is a "power pitcher" isn't he?
Am I the only person who finds it odd that a healthy 27-year-old flamethrower would be seeing a decrease in velocity in what should be the prime of his career?
Or perhaps the Yankees are so happy with the velocity issues and struggles of their own young flamethrower, Phil Hughes, that they are anxious to take on another problem child?
Pitch velocity courtesy of Fangraphs.com
NL Pitchers Don't Exactly Thrive in Pinstripes
Pitchers who join the Yankees directly from the National League, those who do not pass go and do not collect $200 seem to...struggle when they reach the Bronx.
Take Javier Vazquez for example.
In his two seasons as a Yankee, he was 24-20 with a 5.09 ERA and 1.34 WHIP.
In his nine seasons in the NL, he had a losing record of 96-102, but a 4.10 ERA, nearly a full run lower than his Yankee tenure.
Twice a Yankee, twice a failure.
Not convinced yet?
Kevin Brown? Disaster of epic proportions.
Randy Johnson? Nowhere near the Hall of Fame pitcher he was throughout the rest of his career.
Still not convinced?
I have two words for you.
Yeah, that one hit a nerve.
No matter how you look at it, National League pitchers simply do not do well for the Yankees.
What league has Ubaldo Jimenez spent his entire career in again?
Look, I get it. I really do.
Everyone loves a strikeout artist.
There is no denying that Jimenez has an unique ability to make people miss, averaging 8.2 K/9 over his career.
Couple that with the struggles of the Yankees pitching staff in 2011 and fans are working themselves into a panic.
But there is also no denying that the offenses that Jimenez would face in the American League are more potent then those he faces in the National League—especially considering that while he really only faces eight batters in the NL, he would be seeing nine in the AL.
When Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos both still project as front-of-the-rotation starters and when Ivan Nova has shown he has the ability to be a solid starter in the AL, you simply cannot sacrifice that potential depth (and talent) for one arm.
An arm that I believe is ripe for an injury, given his bizarre pitching mechanics.
An arm that has too many questions attached to it.
Yankee fans, I want you to try something.
Close your eyes.
Take a deep breath.
Now take the information from the previous slides, add it to the information here, and ask yourself: Is the potential long-term stability and depth of your starting rotation worth gambling on someone who has proven to be nothing short of mediocre?
If this discussion was about Seattle's Felix Hernandez or Anaheim's Jered Weaver, legitimate aces who have proven they can not only be effective but downright dominating in the AL, that's one thing.
But in the case of Ubaldo Jimenez?
To quote the late Amy Winehouse, the answer is simply "no, no no."