Ubaldo Jimenez Supended For Throwing At Tulowitzki

April 4, 2012

- See all 763 of my articles

No Comments

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 21: Ubaldo Jimenez #30 of...

Take a deep breath and relax.

SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 6: Troy Tulowitzki #2 of ...

And in this corner, at 6'3" and 215 pounds ...

A lazy day of spring training was livened up a bit when Ubaldo Jimenez of the Indians intentionally threw at Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, clearing the benches and getting himself a five game suspension.

There has been a lot of tension between Jimenez and the Rockies this season.  The beef that Jimenez seems to have with the team is that Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez signed big extensions following the 2010 season, while the team made no move to extend Jimenez.  Why didn’t the Rockies offer Jimenez an extension?  Because they already had him under team control through 2014.

At the time he signed the deal (January 2009), these were Ubaldo’s thoughts on the subject:

That means a lot, that they’ve put a lot of trust in me, and I’m not going to let them down.

Sounds like he was pretty happy with the deal at the time, right?  Sure, he’d had a monster season in 2010 (fueled by a 15-1 start, which included a no-hitter) and perhaps rightly felt that he had outperformed the contract, but the Rockies had taken a risk by signing him to the deal before he had really proven much at the major league level.  At the time of the deal, Jimenez had a career record of 16-16 and a career ERA of 4.06.

Additionally, pitchers are more injury prone than position players, and pitchers for the Rockies are going to throw more pitches per inning than pitchers in other parks, because the park is very hitter friendly (and hits extend innings).  Considering that baseball contracts, unlike contracts in other sports, are guaranteed money, it’s risky to extend a pitcher too many years into the future, especially when he’s still under contract for several years.

Is he upset about being traded?  Seriously, how could the Rockies turn down a deal that included Drew Pomeranz and other pieces.  Pomeranz has the upside of Jimenez and is younger (cheaper).  The small market Rockies are often looking for cost efficiencies.

I like Ubaldo, but he really needs to put this in the past and move forward.

More big contracts

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Cai...

Actually, the Giants are paying for Matt Cain's arm.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 14:  Closer Francisco C...

Nah, man. I can pick up the tab for dinner. No worries, mate.

Spring training has served as a late Christmas for a some players.  Just yesterday, teams spent $350 million on players, with the Giants locking up pitcher Matt Cain for six years at a cost of $127.5 million and the Reds extended first baseman Joey Votto through the 2023 season with a ten year deal worth $225 million.  Cain’s deal has a vesting option (which turns into a team option if it doesn’t vest) that could push the deal to $141.5 million over seven years.

I’d like to point out the fact that Matt Cain’s career record is 69-73, and he has never won more than 13 games in a season.  I’d also like to point out the fact that win/loss record is a horrible stat to use when judging pitchers, and applaud the Giants for completely ignoring it in this case.  In 2007, for example, Cain went 7-16 for the Giants … but had a quite good 3.65 ERA and hit 200 innings – as a 22 year old.

Votto’s the third first basemen to notch a $200 million deal in recent months, following in the footsteps of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder.  Unlike Pujols and Fielder, Votto opted to remain with the team that drafted him.  Votto still has two years left on his current deal ($9 million this year and $17 million in 2013), so the new deals kick in for the 2014 season.  He’ll be 40 years old at the end of the contract.

I think Votto’s a relatively safe risk, as first baseman are less prone to injury than other position players (they don’t run long distances to field balls, nor are they often involved in collisions with baserunners).  However, I think it would make some sense to add easily-reached vesting options to protect against severely diminished skills or career-ending injuries (although teams often have disability insurance for injuries).  Set it up so that the option vests if the player gets 200 at bats in te previous season.

The Dodgers

Frank McCourt at New York City's Housing Works...

Not this Frank McCourt

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 14:  Los Angeles Dodge...

This is the guy.

The long, drawn out saga of Frank McCourt seems to be drawing to an end.  A group that includes NBA great Magic Johnson is going to buy the Dodgers for more than $2 billion, the highest price ever for a sports franchise.  McCourt will retain some rights to the parking lots, but will not receive parking-related revenue (this was a major issue).  McCourt paid $421 million for the team in 2004, so he should reap a tidy profit (even after using some of the cash toward his divorce settlement).

Why so much money?  Television rights.  Currently, Fox pays $38 million per season for the rights to televise Dodgers games.  That deal expires after the 2013 season, and the price is going to go through the roof.  How much do the Dodgers stand to gain from TV rights?  Well, the cross-town Angels recently signed a deal that will pay the team $3 billion over the next twenty years.

I’m actually a bit disappointed to see the Dodgers messed cleaned up.  The longer it lingered, the more it helped the other teams in the Dodgers’ division – including my Rockies.


Enhanced by Zemanta

Reactions to the Ubaldo Jimenez Trade

July 30, 2011

- See all 763 of my articles

1 Comment

Regular readers to The Soap Boxers know that I am a die-hard Colorado Rockies fan. I have rooted for the franchise since December of 1992, several months before they played their first game. I have stuck with them through thick and thin. Mostly thin – but it’s easier than it seems, since I was a Cubs fan prior to my reformation.

I have enjoyed watching a lot of Rockies players over the years, from the Big Cat, Vinny Castilla, and Larry Walker in the early years, to Todd Helton suffering with me through the lean years, and finally the current crop including Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.

It always pains me when I see a good player leave town. It was a foregone conclusion that Matt Holliday would be traded because the small market Rockies couldn’t afford him. This wasn’t a consideration with Jimenez, as he was locked up at a very reasonable price through 2014 – $2.8 million this season, $4.2 million next year, $5.75 million team option in 2013, and $8 million team option in 2014 (Jimenez can – and likely will – void the 2014 option if traded). In other words, this was a great starting pitcher, cost controlled for another 3.5 years, and we still let him go.

Still, I’m OK with the deal. This is why?

  • We got a good deal. When the rumors of Jimenez being on the trade block initially surface, most observers felt that this was simply Dan O’Dowd gauging interest – with little interest in actually making a deal. Some also felt that this was a bad time to trade Jimenez, since he had struggled down the stretch in 2010 after a 15-1 start and had also struggled to start this year, However, Jimenez had been pitching much better since the start of June, and had been downright dominant on the road all year. A number of American League playoff contenders were rumored to be interested. Drew Pomeranz is one of the best pitch prospects in baseball, and Alex White and Jason Kipnis were the 1st (White) and 2nd (Kipnis) round picks in 2009. It’s a nice haul.
  • It addressed needs. It’s no secret that the Rockies have struggled to get production out of the second base spot since … um, have we ever had a decent offensive player at second base? Adding two quality young arms should also add depth to the rotation in future years. Pitching injuries seem to be a rite of passage in Denver; you can never have too many starting pitchers. All three players are also quite young (Kipnis is 24, White and Pomeranz are 22) and should still have several years of improvement ahead of them.
  • It could screw the Yankees. I have positive feeling for the Indians, and wouldn’t mind seeing them make the playoffs. If they happen to face off against the hated Yankees in the playoffs, I wish for them to have every possible weapon at their disposal. If Jimenez was going to be traded, Cleveland is a good spot for him.

You won’t see the name of Pomeranz in the official record of the transaction. Draftees must have been under contract with their team for a full year before becoming eligible to be traded. This is an odd little rule baseball enacted after the Pete Incaviglia trade in 1986. A stupid rule, but a rule nonetheless. Instead, you’ll see a Player to Be Named Later … and on August 15, that PTBNL will become Pomeranz.

Throw Back The Marlins

June 24, 2010

- See all 763 of my articles

No Comments

The Florida Marlins seem to be in the news a lot this year.  Earlier in the year, All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez was benched after showing lack of hustle on a play.  Ramirez accidentally kicked a ball while fielded it, then allowed two runs to score as he ambled after the ball.  Ramirez then lashed out at manager Fredi Gonzalez, as if Ramirez was the victim.  After Roy Halladay’s pefect game, the Marlins announced that they would be selling unused tickets to the game (and there were many of them, as is the case with all Marlins home game) at face value – effectively killing the value of the tickets that had been purchased by die-hard fans who actually attended the game.

On Wednesday, the Fish fired manager Fredi Gonzalez in spite of the fact that the Marlins were actually still in contention – in spite of the ongoing efforts of ownership to trade good players whenever they get to the point of earning a large salary.  It’s not the first time that the Marlins have axed a manager who was producing solid on-field results.  In 2006, the Marlins had a payroll of just $14 million – lower than the salaries of several players, and 1/5 the payroll of most team.  Nonethleless, first time manager Joe Girardi led the team to a 78-84 record and kept them in contention for a playoff spot late into the season.  This was substantially better than anyone would have expected prior to the season, and Girardi was named National League Manager of the year.  By the time the award arrived on his doorstep, he had been fired.  Things worked out OK for Girardi, though.  He’s now the manager of the Yankees.

What got me riled up the most, however, was the news that the Marlins were bribing their fans to cast All-Star votes for the Marlins.  If you case 200 all-Marlin ballots, you get two free tickets to a Marlins game.  If you cast the most ballots, you get access to a suite at a Marlins game.  The Marlins say that other teams also make a push to have fans vote for their player, but Florida is much more aggressive than other teams.  I don’t even like the fact that people can easily vote 25 times online because of how it dilutes fan voting.  Having a team actively encourage ballot box stuffing makes me sick.  I wish Major League Baseball would step up and protect the integrity of the game.  If teams engage is this sort of activity, ban their players from the All-Star game for a year.  Maybe that would put sportsmanship back into the equation.

Maybe this would be a good time to start discussion contraction again?



Two of the most dominant pitchers in baseball toed the rubber on Wednesday night.  Stephen Strasburg face another cupcake team when he took the mound  against the Royals (having faced the woeful Pirates and Indians and the mediocre White Sox in his first three games).  Strasburg struck out nine and walked none, but did allow nine hits (all singles) in six innings of work, allowing just one run.  However, Brian Bannister of the Royals combined with the bullpen for a shutout, giving the Roayls a 1-0 win.

Ubaldo Jimenez was in search of his 14th win when he faced the Red Sox.  Jimenez was rocking and rolling early in the game, but ran into trouble in the sixth inning.  A flare down the right field line by Marco Scutaro put the Sox ahead 6-5 and sent Jimenez to the showers (actually, to the bench, where he watched the rest of the game).  It was by far the worst game of the year, statistically.  In spite of that, my friend Lazy Man at Lazy Man and Money came away impressed with Jimenez.  The Rockies took Jimenez off the hook by rallying against Papelbon in the ninth.  Homers by Ian “Stewie” Stewart and Jason “Jason” Giambi sent Colorado fans home happy with an 8-6 win.  The Rockies go for the sweep tonight when they send Jason Hammel to the mound to face off against Daisuke Matsuzaka.

I’m not much of a soccer fan, but I was following the ESPN Gamecast of the USA game against Algeria yesterday.  I had discussed various scenarios with occasional contributor Fulton Christopher, and when England went up 1-0 against Slovenia, we knew that the US was going to need a win to advance.  A surge of pride went through me when the news of Landon Donovan’s late goal splashed across the screen.

Across the pond at Wimbledon, news of Roger Federer’s near defeat at the hands of Allejando Falla in the first round was the buzz on the first day of the tournament  .  Down two sets, Federer rallied to beat the Colombian in five sets.  The tournament’s top seed struggled again in the second round, with Serbian Ilija Bozoljac taking R-Feds to four sets. 

On Wednesday, the big news was the match between American John Isner and Nicolas Mahut of France.  The match actually began on Tuesday.  It was suspended because of darkness and was resumed on Wednesday.  They played the entire day on Wednesday before the match was once again suspended because of darkness.  At the end of the day, they were tied 59-59 in the fifth set.  For those who don’t follow tennis, you typically play to 6.  The match is demolishing many records, and the length is unfathomable to everyone.  Matches simply don’t last this long, ever.

It will be interesting to see how the winner fares in the next round.  Conventional wisdom would be that they’ll be easy prey for an opponent – but only time will tell.  Both players are also playing doubles, and will play their first round doubles matches shortly after their singles match is completely – assuming that it doesn’t continue until the end of time.

Around The World Of Major League Baseball

June 8, 2010

- See all 177 of my articles

No Comments

Strasburg – It is FINALLY HERE
The hype is almost over … well it is still going on for a few more hours until the highly touted pitcher makes his debut for the Washington Nationals tonight at home in D.C. against the Pittsburgh Pirates. You have seen numerous articles mentioning Strasburg here on the Casual Observer, everything from talent to sports card prices. The place is sold out tonight, which is great for the home team. Here is hoping the kid has a good outing and does not get chased early.

Speaking of Nationals …
They also had the first overall pick in the “Live” draft that was conducted on Major League Baseball Network last night. Bryce Harper was not surprisingly taken as the #1 pick. He graduated high school early and spent this past year in Junior College where he tore the cover off the ball. Harper, according to an ESPN article, hit . 443 with 31 home runs, 98 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in 66 games, That is video game type of numbers. Looks like we have another super hyped Washington Nationals player to keep an eye on over the next couple years.

Speaking of Draft …
The draft coverage last night was definitely the worst coverage of such a type of even I have ever seen. Of course Bud Selig is about as exciting as reading the white pages in the phone book. The real disappointment was twofold. First of all, the “in studio experts” really did not add anything to the equation at all, and secondly the “ticker” at the bottom of the screen showed more historical information about a team’s draft pick from something like 8 years ago and rarely did they actually show the picks that had made THIS year. For reference when the NFL draft is run, the pretty much have the continuous crawl at the bottom of the screen, so if you happen to run to the fridge or the bathroom, you can come back and actually see who was picked over the last couple of minutes. MLB network only updated this what seemed like 4 times an hour … poor job MLB Network. Maybe you can learn from this next year.

Speaking of MLB ….
It is shaping up to be another exciting year in baseball. We have already had a number of events happen. Griffey Retiring, Ubaldo Jimenez winning 11 games and being pretty much unhittable, and what seems like everyone in the American League East winning most all of their games (except the Orioles)

So for you baseball aficionados out there … grab your favorite beverage, and a snack and kick back tonight and see what the kid can do … a lot of people will be watching.

When Will The Nationals Call up Stephen Strasburg?

May 29, 2010

- See all 763 of my articles

No Comments

The blogosphere has been chattering about the potential of a Strasburg call up all week.  Strasburg, the top overall pick in the 2009 draft, has been dominating the minor leagues.  Strasburg is 6-1 with a 0.99 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings for the year – while allowing just 22 hits and ten walks.  He actually kicked his game up a notch after being promoted to AAA Syracuse – he has a miniscule 0.39 ERA with the Chiefs.

Earlier rumors had Strasburg in line for a start on June 4th against the Reds.  Later in the week, June 8th against the Pirates was the unofficial date.  The June 4th date made some sense.  It was the first home game after a road trip, and it’s late enough that it’s nearly certain Strasburg would not qualify as a Super 2.  (More on why Strasburg was sent to the minors here).  There’s some confusion on why the Nationals are choosing to push the date back until the 8th.  Strasburg seems to have nothing to prove in AAA, and they have pushed back his arbitration a year, there is no financial reason to keep him down.

The only reason I can fathom for delaying Strasburg’s debut is that he’ll have a better chance at a win.  The Reds are in first place in the NL Central, while the Pie Rats are on pace for their 18th consecutive losing season.  The Pirates don’t have the worst record in baseball yet, but they have by far the worst run differential – so it’s quite likely that Pittsburgh will be picking first in the 2011 draft.  The Nationals – laughingstocks for more years – on the other hand, are in contention in the NL East.  Can the positive energy of a Strasburg promotion push them to a division title?  I’m going to say no for this year, but watch for them in 2011.

How will Strasburg do once he is promoted?  Well, I doubt that he’ll post a 0.99 ERA in the Majors, of course.  In fact, I do think he’ll hit some rough spots during the season, once hitters get a second look at him.  Almost every rookie struggles at some point during their debut campaign.  I do think Strasburg right the ship and end the season with strong numbers – perhaps a 3.50 ERA.


The other member of the “young pitchers who signed big deals” club, Aroldis “Chappy” Chapman has experienced some struggles after a hot start to the season.  I expect the Reds farmhand to get a June call up after establishing more consistency.  It’s important to remember that the Cuban defector is adjusting to a new home country as well as playing baseball.

Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez continues to dominate the National League.  U-Ball gave up no runs in 8 innings on Wednesday night, pushing his record to 9-1 with a 0.88 ERA.  In 71 1/3 innings this year, Jimenez has given up ONE home run.  His only loss on the year was on May 9th against the Dodgers – Jimenez gave up one run in seven innings, but Clayton Kershaw and Jonathan Broxton combined for a shutout for LA.  Jimenez attempts to notch his 10th win of the year on Memorial Day against reigning Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum.  The Giants ace has struggled lately, and I’m hoping Timmmmmmmmmmmmmmy has another rough outing.

Speaking of struggles … Charlie Morton of the Pirates picked up another loss on Thursday night.  Morton is 1-9 on the year with a 9.35 ERA.  Morton has allowed 66 hits and 16 walks in 43 1/3 innings.  Morton has allowed 12 homers and has also hit four batters.  Morton’s only win this year was against the Cubs – who are somehow 1-5 against the hapless Bucs.

What Does Mitch Albom Know About Fantasy Baseball?

April 19, 2010

- See all 763 of my articles


On Sunday, Mitch Albom launched a surprise attack on fantasy baseball in Parade Magazine

Albom starts off by pointing out that on any given day, fifteen million people check fantasy baseball stats – more fans than are actually in the stands to watch a game that day.  Albom sees this as a bad thing.  The fire marshals probably see this as a good thing.  In order for fifteen million people to attend a game on a particular day, it would entail each of the fifteen games to have a million people in the stands.  That would be fine – except that the maximum capacity of most stadiums is around fifty thousand. 

Albom also seems to be splitting the followers of baseball into “fantasy folks” and regular fans.  Albom must know a different group of fantasy players than I do.  In my leagues, all of the participants are also big fans of a Major League team.  While I’d love to see my Yura Peeins or Bats in the Belfry teams win titles in their respective leagues, I’d much prefer to see the Colorado Rockies win the division.

Why, then, do I even bother with fantasy baseball?

First of all, to kill the dead time in the schedule.  I absolutely love baseball.  There are, sadly, a handful off days during the season on which the Rockies don’t play.  Being able to actively follow other teams on these days (as well as during the hours the Rockies aren’t playing on other days) staves off the depression that would otherwise set in from lack of Rockies.  While I have a defined order of preference for Major League teams, it’s fun to have some somewhat random players to root for.  (By the way, if you’re looking for an entertaining tale of fantasy baseball, check out Sam Walker’s Fantasyland.)

There is also the actual nature of fantasy baseball.  I consider it to be much more challenging than other fantasy sports.  In football, there is a reasonable correlation between yards and touchdowns.  In basketball, the best centers are going post strong numbers in points, rebounds, and blocks. 

This isn’t the case in baseball, though.  It’s extremely rare to see a player put up strong numbers in all categories.  Prince Fielder of the Brewers is a great offensive player, but he kills you in steals.  Conversely, Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners will give you steals, but few homers.  There is also the issue of positional flexibility.  In the other sports, the position is set.  A wide receiver does not suddenly become a quarterback.  However, in baseball, it is not uncommon to see players log time at a few different positions.  It can be advantageous to have a player who is eligible at multiple positions (so that he can fill in for injured players) even if his offensive ceiling is not as high as others.

Albom says that “if you program a computer correctly, it can play an entire fantasy season without you.”  While this is true (in fact, no programming is necessary), it’s very unlikely that you can WIN this way.  Fantasy baseball is very much an art – determining which of the inevitable sacrifices to make during the season.

Albom’s main assumption seems to be that people use fantasy baseball as a replacement for the real thing.  However, in my experience, this is not the case.  Instead, people use fantasy baseball to supplement the main activity of following their favorite team.

Sorry, Mitch, you struck out on this one.

The rosin bag

Rockies Nation was exuberant on Saturday evening.  26 year old staff ace Ubaldo Jimenez handcuffed the Atlanta Braves en route the first no-hitter in Rockies history.  Baldo’s control was lacking in the early innings.  He walked six batters in the first five innings.  At that point, pitching coach Bob Apodaca noticed that Jimenez was pitching better from the stretch (a shorter motion typically used only when there are runners on base) than he was from the windup.  Jimenez pitched the rest of the game from the stretch and didn’t walk another hitter.  Jimenez was still throwing in the high 90s at the end of the game (after touching 100 several times earlier in the game).  Ubaldo has flown under the radar of casual fans a bit, but many experts consider him to be among the elite pitchers in the game,

After I finished listening to the Jimenez’s no-hitter, I switched over to the Cardinals-Mets game.  The game had started at 3 PM Central time.  By the time I tuned in (thanks to a heads-up from The Angry Squirrel) the game was in the 14th inning, tied at 0-0.  Eventually, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa decided against draining his pitching staff any further (he had already used eight pitchers).  Shortstop Felipe Lopez  pitched a scoreless 18th inning.  Outfielder Joe Mather then took the mound in the 19th.  He surrendered run to the Mets, but Cardinals matched it in the bottom of the frame.  Mather finally took the loss after giving up a run in the 20th.

 I doubt that there was a more popular player in the clubhouse after the game, however.  The Cardinals had Sunday’s game to think about (they won that game) and someone needed to take one for the team.  As it turned out, La Russa didn’t need to worry about the bullpen for Sunday’s game – Adam Wainwright turned in a complete game.

The Baltimore Orioles, at 2-11, are 7 ½ games behind the front running Yankees in the American League East.  It may be time for Orioles fans to start looking at promising college sophomores and high school juniors, in anticipation of the O’s landing the top pick in next year’s draft.