Its been awhile since I have voiced my opinions on Blog So Hard. Between a new job and a painfully slow computer at home it was a little hard to find the time. Never the less with baseball season right around the corner I am back to do what I do, and what better way to start than to talk about the newest Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez.
As most of you have heard by now Jimenez has agreed to a 4 year $48 to $50 million dollar deal with the Orioles pending a physical (which at the time of this interview seems to be going well based on what I can tell from Twitter but this is the Orioles so you never know). My first thought about the move was that it would be really exciting….if this was 2009. But after letting it sink in and most likely developing a case of blind eyed optimism I have changed my tune a bit.
Let’s start by looking at the front of the rotation and number one starter Chris Tillman. Those outside of Baltimore may not realize just how good Tillman has been. Over the last 2 seasons he is 25-10 with an 11-7 mark against the AL East and 3 of those losses coming to in my opinion the best team in the division, The Rays. Tillman is a clear cut number one that any Orioles fan should feel comfortable giving the ball to every 5th day knowing they are going to have a chance to win.
Jimenez will most likely slide into the number 2 slot in the rotation which is the key to this whole thing. The Orioles don’t need him to be the same pitcher from 2009, what they need him to be is a solid number 2 and the pitcher we was the second half of last season in Cleveland when he had a 1.82 ERA going 7-5. The record shouldn’t matter as much do to the fact that the Orioles have a way better offense than most of the teams in baseball and for sure the Indians.
The 3,4,5 spots could be mixed and matched based on opinion. In my eyes it Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris, and Miguel Gonzalez. Chen could be a number 3 in a lot of rotations and most of the time goes out and has a solid outing right up until the 7th inning when he gets shelled, but hopefully that is a problem that can be fixed. Bud Norris came over in the middle of last season and should want to pitch well for the soul reason that we were the team that got him out of God awful Houston. Norris went 4-3 in his short time with the O’s. Gonzalez is coming off an injury and if he can recover would be a huge piece in the 5th spot. There are not many 5th starters in the league with his type of stuff and he owns the AL East but more specially the Yankees.
There are also a few underlining things that have come out of this deal that may go unnoticed. This move most likely keeps Zach Britton in the bullpen and more importantly out of the rotation, it also does the same for Brian Matusz who has been pretty lights out against lefties out of the pen the last 2 years. With those two things sorted out the biggest thing coming from Ubaldo being in Baltimore is that it gives the Orioles a chance to keep Kevin Gausman in AAA to improve as a starter, he could help the Orioles out of the bullpen much like he did late last year but that is not what the team drafted him for. He can stay in AAA till May and June then if one of the starting pitchers falters or gets inured he can have his second crack at starting in the big leagues.
I am not saying that Jimenez is the missing piece to the Orioles winning a World Series in 2014 but it does make the club better and give them a much better shot at a Wild Card spot and in the Division with the loaded Rays, defending World Champion Red Sox, The Yanks who have no infielder who is sure to play every day (Tex gets hurt all the time, Brian Roberts we won’t talk about, Jeter is 137 years old in baseball years, and Kelly Johnson who is just taking up space at 3rd base) and a lot of rotation question marks of their own, and The Blue Jays who shouldn’t be much of a threat from up north. This move is something to be excited about for all the reasons listed.
Now if March 31st can just hurry up and get here.