Once again, there are more rumblings in the AL East concerning big name free agent signings. Today’s focus is on the Baltimore Orioles and their pick up of Ubaldo Jimenez, the flame throwing righty formerly with the Indians and Rockies. Not only did the Orioles pick up the tab for a 4 year, $50 million contract but they also had to forego their 1st round draft pick with a draft class that is said to be one of the best in the recent past. It’s safe to say the Orioles front office is a little bitter about the 3rd place finish in the AL East and has decided to revamp their pitching staff in an effort to become playoff contenders once again. With Markakis, Jones, and Hardy, it’s clear that the O’s will be offensively adept this season and with the addition of Jimenez, they will look to shutdown the AL hitters in pursuit of a league title.
Ubaldo Jimenez is a 30 year old starter out of the Dominican Republic and has been in the MLB for 8 years. He was an All Star in 2010 where he threw a no-hitter against the Braves at the beginning of the season. The scouting report on Jimenez concludes a high velocity fastball around 95 mph with a deceptive change-up where the bottom drops out and an equally impressive slider at 85 mph that appears like a fastball before the last minute break that has been known to shatter many bats. That being said, with a career record of 82-75, Jimenez has struggled to dominate in the win-loss column, mainly due to a multitude of walks in comparison the the rest of the MLB. As Ubaldo begins his career in orange, he will look to pound the strike zone with the speedy fastball and punch out hitters with a combination of his devastating change-up and slider.
Here is a table of Jimenez’s stats over the course of his career. Notice the relatively high WHIP and ERA despite the impressive strikeout and innings pitch columns.
As mentioned, some troubling numbers here are the high WHIP and ERA while the strikeouts and innings pitched are well above league average. That being said, it has been proven that fireball pitchers not only tend to lack long careers, but they also lack consistency and can be figured out with many long balls or tend to become wild and give up a lot of walks. It would appear as if the high WHIP comes from the many walks he has given up. This means that on average, Ubaldo is allowing a runner to reach base every inning and allows over 12 runners to reach every 9 innings. It’s safe to say that a $50 million pitcher should not be allowing this to happen and this should be a stat that is kept a close eye on by the Orioles’ management. If it tends to be straying north of 1.4, they should probably look to dish him out to another team before its too late to salvage some value.
In conclusion, I think this is a great move for a middle of the road team in the AL East looking to gain some traction in the playoff race. With a strengthened pitching staff combined with a solid batting lineup, the O’s will undoubtedly give AL teams trouble in the upcoming season. Per usual, only time will tell if this move will provide the Orioles with some staying power, as they have finished slightly above average most years. Hopefully, they will be able to ride the rocket arm of Jimenez and look to contend for an AL East title for the first time since their World Series Championship in 1983, as they have not won the AL East since then.