How the mighty have fallen. Just a year ago Ubaldo Jimenez was as untouchable a player as there was in all of baseball. He posted back-to-back months with an ERA well below 1.00 in April and May, and many analysts were suggesting that he was the game’s best pitcher. He floundered in the second half, but still finished with a 2.88 ERA and a 3.10 FIP, good for 6.3 fWAR. Currently only 27 years old, Ubaldo had all the makings of a player any team would build a rotation around for the long term. Now, rumors are flying that the Yankees and Rockies may be close to making a deal.
Bluntly put, provided the price isn’t too steep, the Yankees have to consider any trade that yields Jimenez. Rumors that he’s having a bad season this year are over blown. He’s pitching to a 4.08 ERA and a 3.42 FIP. He’s been worth 2.4 fWAR so far on the year, which makes him more valuable than every Yankee pitcher not named CC Sabathia. The only red flag on Jimenez is that his fastball velocity is down this season. According to Fangraphs his fastball averaged 96.1 mph in 2009 and 2010, but is down around 93.4 mph this season. That’s a considerable drop off but not so much to make the pitch inneffective. So long as the drop in velocity isn’t due to an undiagnosed injury, it shouldn’t be cause for too much alarm.
It is therefore a no-brainer that the Yankees should trade for Jimenez if the price is logical. (The rumored price of Jesus Montero, Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos and Ivan Nova is categorically not logical.) But, is Jimenez actually the young-stud pitcher the Yankees should be looking at? Is it a slam dunk move to go after him, and not Francisco Liriano?
Setting aside the question of whether or not the Twins are ready to part ways with Liriano, if the Yankees could make a deal for any pitcher who is realistically available, should they target Francisco or Jimenez?
Liriano is similar to Jimenez in many ways. He’s just a few months older than Ubaldo, and won’t turn 28 until the end of October. He was almost as valuable last season, accumulating 6.0 fWAR in 2010 (in the American League to boot, which impresses me more than anything accomplished in AAAA). He actually had better strike out and control numbers than Jimenez. Liriano struck out 9.44 batters and walked 2.72 batters per nine innings last season, versus 8.69 and 3.74 for Jimenez. In many ways Liriano’s 2010 was every bit as impressive as Jimenez’s, even if it didn’t get as much hype.
Unfortunately for Liriano, he has more red flags than Jimenez. The first is his innings. Francisco has never pitched 200 innings in a season. Last year he posted a career high of 191.2, but Ubaldo has posted at least 198.2 innings for three consecutive seasons now and has pitched 20 more innings already this season. The other red mark against Liriano is that he’s struggling this season. He’s posted an ERA of 4.76 and a FIP of 4.30. His fWAR is a measely 0.8 so far this year. Most of the damage came in April, when Liriano was miserable, posting 1.90 WHIP and a 6.05 FIP, but he’s only been dominant in June since then, when he posted a WHIP 1.18 and a FIP of 2.12. His FIP has been above 4.50 every other month this season and is 4.55 in July, against a 3.93 ERA. That’s better, but not so strong that the Yankees should part ways with a variety of prospects.
Heading into this analysis I thought that Liriano and Jimenez would be close enough in value to make the Twins starter worth a closer look. This is not the case. Jimenez is a better pitcher than Liriano. In fact, it’s not even clear the Yankees should trade for Liriano if he were available. Ivan Nova has been worth the exact same fWAR of 0.8 on the season so far. Unless the Yankee scouts felt strongly that Liriano would have a strong second half the team could get the same kind of production boost from bringing back Nova. Jimenez, on the other hand, would immediately slot into the number two spot in the rotation, and ease the pressure off Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia. The question is just the price. If I’m Brian Cashman the piece I want to keep the most is Ivan Nova. He may not have the ceiling of the other prospects, but he’s big-league ready. If both Colon and Garcia sputter out then the team will need more than just Ubaldo Jimenez to bolster its rotation.
LIKE TYA ON FACEBOOK
- TYA To Merge With It’s About The Money, Stupid
- What about Kevin Youkilis?
- Teix Now Front And Center On The “Needs To Produce” Radar
- Cashman: Heathcott A Dark Horse Candidate
- A Dog Chasing Cars
- Outfield Trade Targets
- The Problem With Brett Gardner
- A Look At Relief Prospect Branden Pinder
- The Yankees Should Be Realistic, Put Team on Short Leash in 2013
- Briefly discussing the internal options to replace Curtis Granderson
- Christina on Game Thread: Angels versus Yankees, Saturday July 14th
- walkfit platinum reviews on The TYA staff on the Yankees’ television and radio broadcast teams
- essentialtexting.com on Open Thread | Game 3 | Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees | Sunday, April 3, 2011
- www25.tok2.com on Sabermetrics Doesn’t Have A Monopoly on Not-Stupid: Mike Trout is the AL MVP
- グッチ 財布 on Sunday Links-Joba’s Timetable, Comparing eras, Pineda
- raspberry ketone diet 1200 on Sabermetrics Doesn’t Have A Monopoly on Not-Stupid: Mike Trout is the AL MVP
- Free riot codes on Off-Topic
- Fran on The Great Subway Race
- sleeping bag hand Orientation on What about Austin Romine?
- camping stove heat diffuser on What about Austin Romine?
TagsA.J. Burnett Alex Rodriguez Andy Pettitte Austin Romine Baltimore Orioles Bartolo Colon Boston Red Sox Brett Gardner Brian Cashman Bullpen CC Sabathia Chien-Ming Wang Cliff Lee Curtis Granderson David Robertson Dellin Betances Derek Jeter Francisco Cervelli Freddy Garcia Game Recap Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Javier Vazquez Jesus Montero Joba Chamberlain Joe Girardi Johnny Damon Jorge Posada Manny Banuelos Mariano Rivera Mark Teixeira Melky Cabrera Michael Pineda New York New York Yankees Nick Johnson Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Prospects Rafael Soriano Red Sox Robinson Cano Russell Martin Tampa Bay Rays Yankees