Ubaldo Jimenez Continues to Struggle Mightily

The Ubaldo Jimenez experience in Cleveland is rapidly coming to an end — or at least a long pause.

Yours truly and many I know immediately declared the July 31, 2011 deadline deal a blunder the night it was made, as did many MLB experts.

The stats have proven us prescient.

Ubaldo Jimenez

In 254 innings with the Indians, Jimenez has an ERA over 5.50 (closer to 6 since opening day 2012), with nearly five walks per nine innings. Tuesday night was his second debacle in three starts so far in 2013. The right-hander yielded seven runs and five walks to Boston in fewer than two innings of work.  He also allowed seven runs to the Yankees April 8.

Apparently, seven full days of rest didn’t resolve his issues.

Jimenez entered 2012 with a career ground-ball rate near 50 percent, but saw that mark plummet to just 38 percent last year. His once-blazing fastball dropped from an average of 96.1 mph from 2009-10 to just 92.5 mph in 2012. The 29-year-old’s 4.8 walks per nine innings in 2012 was a career-worst, and he’s averaging more than eight so far in 2013 with a laughable 11.25 ERA.  Moreover, Jimenez led the American League in both losses (17) and wild pitches (16) last season for the Tribe.

In spite of all those damning statistics, Indians general manager Chris Antonetti and team President Mark Shapiro capriciously dumped long-time DH Travis Hafner (absolutely tearing it up in New York thus far) and exercised the club option on Jimenez as last season closed (nearly $6 million for a franchise with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball) in a desperate hope he could rebound to something resembling the ace-caliber pitcher he was back in 2010.

I’m certainly a doubter.

Cleveland gave Colorado two young arms and four players overall in exchange for a guy who essentially had two good seasons and was deteriorating by that time in 2011.

Money aside, it’s time to skip Jimenez’s next start or demote him (hopefully temporarily) to Triple-A Columbus. You can’t win a division in April, but even in the mediocre American League Central, you can lose it.  That is especially true with an improved Kansas City Royals team that beat out Cleveland by four games for third place in 2012.

Otherwise, consider every fifth day one where all the Indians’ quality offensive offseason acquisitions — one already injured — must put on their best hitting shoes and the bullpen should be ready for lots of work.

About AJ Kaufman

A former schoolteacher and military historian, A.J. now works in public relations. As an MSF columnist since 2009, he supports anything baseball-related. Raised in San Diego, A.J. has since resided in numerous parts of America, including Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio and Washington State. After departing the coasts in 2005, he's traveled the back roads of all 50 states and prefers the Heartland. Married to Maria, A.J. is the author of three books and enjoys reading presidential biographies.


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