Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ubaldo Jimenez dominates Braves while rumors swirl

Baseball is a business.

Nothing will remind the average fan of that like news that no fewer than 17 teams had scouts in the stands watching Ubaldo Jimenez.

As rumors swirl about the ace, he insists he will go about his business in the exact same way that he always has. He proved that to be true on Tuesday night as he completely dominated the Atlanta Braves. Behind six runs of support in the first three innings, the subject of trade rumors pitched 6-2/3 innings, giving up two runs on seven hits. He struck out nine and walked just two. The final part of that line being the most important.

When Jimenez is ahead in the count, he is able to mix in all of his pitches. When he is behind in the count, he is forced to throw his fastball, which doesn't have the same life that it did in 2010. Throwing fastballs being down in the count is a recipe for disaster for any pitcher. Jimenez has done a great job in his last three starts of staying ahead in the count.

Make no mistake, despite what some national baseball experts are saying, the Rockies are not actively shopping Jimenez.

This is the same team that has been extremely hesitant to deal the likes of Eric Young, Jr. and Chris Nelson because they want to see what they can do at the Major League level. There is no way that with a team-friendly contract like Jimenez is locked into, the club is going to deal him because his velocity is down and he isn't having the best season.

The only reason that Jimenez will be dealt is if the Rockies know something about the right-handers health that no one else does. If there is something that would suggest to them that he will never regain his previous form, and on top of that, he will continue to regress and possibly suffer a major injury.

That said, if the Rockies do deal Jimenez, fans should be upset at the loss of their first-ever true ace, but they should know that the return that they get for the Dominican will be so good that the club could not refuse the offer. It will go a long way to help the depth issues that the team has been experiencing for the first time in the past few seasons.

At this point, it is easy to forget how good Jimenez can be. Frankly, he is a major reason why the Rockies won't be playing in October. In a season full of expectations, Jimenez was the first sign of trouble for the club, as he just didn't seem right in the opener.

However, if Jimenez doesn't have an injury that no one is making public, the Rockies should be very hesitant to deal him. Even with his velocity way down, he is still very effective at 95 MPH, with a great curveball.

In short, the Rockies might be tempted to deal Jimenez. If they do, it will be tough to see him go, but the Rockies are smart enough, and hesitant enough, to make sure that they get a deal that they can't refuse if they did choose to move him.

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