24 May 2017

Swapping In Kendall Graveman For Ubaldo Jimenez

To be fair, Ubaldo Jimenez is doing what he has always done.  The performance aspect, runs allowed, look worse, but it really is not much different than what Baltimore has seen from him in the past.  He has similar velocity, similar movement in his pitches, and similar placement.  Some of the major issues plaguing him are: (1) he appears to be getting squeezed. (2) he has worked the high end of the zone slightly more (which has worked out for him), and (3) he seems to be particularly vulnerable to low middle pitches, which is new.  Solutions to those issues would be (1) pair him with Caleb Joseph, (2) well, dealing high requires more control, so, eh (see: Miguel Gonzalez), and (3) maybe Joseph can help here, too.

However, a successful implementation of these strategies does not ensure success.  On top of that, how much rope does the club have left if they want to have a strong hand in the regular season march to a playoff position?  What else can be done?  Well, Jimenez is not a relief pitcher.  His issues with control and terrible ability to hold baserunners make him not much more than a junk inning pitcher.  As you may have noticed, the Orioles use all corners of their bullpen, so the club would be unable to protect themselves from Jimenez in that manner.

The club could simply designate Jimenez for assignment and release him.  Then they would be open to slotting Alec Asher into the rotation.  Asher has done well in the opportunities the Orioles have afforded him, but putting him in the rotation hampers the Orioles in needing to replace him in a bullpen that has not exactly been a strength.  More long term, the loss of Jimenez also means that the club has likely worse choices for a sixth starter.  As it is now, the rotation has six options ranging from Dylan Bundy to Jimenez (yes, I place Asher above Jimenez).  The batch in Norfolk simply does not look good.  Chris Lee has been revved up on MASN for a lack of runs scored on him lately, but his peripherals look terrible and he has benefited from pitcher's parks.

This leaves the option for a trade.  Of course, the Orioles do not have the depth they have had in years past when they had a healthy group of fringe prospects.  Based on my conversations with others, last year the team had only two off limits players: Chance Sisco and Hunter Harvey.  This year, the list is presumed to include those two plus Cody Sedlock, Ryan Mountcastle, and maybe Jomar Reyes.  That does not leave much left to dangle in trade discussions.

What could be done?  Well, the Orioles do have one area where they are clogged with talent: 1B/DH/pretend corner outfield.  In reality, Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo, and Trey Mancini all occupy the same space.  The Orioles need Chris Davis to play well to succeed and he has largely done that.  Trumbo is a bit of a luxury piece and is a commodity the Orioles could do without.  However, it is difficult to see anyone willing to hand the Orioles anything of note back.  A club wanting Trumbo would see themselves as a playoff contender and which playoff contender has an opening at first base, a belief in Trumbo, and quality starting pitcher to hand back?  In June?  I think it is safe to say that no one fits that description.

That leaves us with Mancini.  One of our own.  He is a player who has torched Major League pitching since given a cup of coffee last September.  His career slash line is 300/338/608 over his first 130 PA.  If Mancini has a rubbish career, then he would belong is a very small group of players who did so well so early only to have it fall apart.  A name that quickly rises to the tongue is Jeff Francoeur who over his first 274 PA slashed 300/336/549 with the caveat that Mancini does not have the fielding acumen that Francoeur had.

Mancini is also a player who has generated a great deal of confusion among scouts.  He does not look all that good.  He has regressed in his athleticism and shows less agility.  He is too tight and has a swing that can go long at times.  Mancini has done alright in the outfield, but he looks barely adequate out there and, long term, his place out there is highly questionable.  Basically, the scouting view is a player who is a fringe major leaguer, but his performance bumps him up to a 50.  In other words, he does not look good, but he has been getting the job done.

What this all means is that as well as Mancini has done, he is not highly valued.  He certainly is valued, but not highly.  A 50 rated player in his first year of control is quite valuable.  A discussion with some in the industry thought a one for one deal would be for a player like the Athletics Kendall Graveman or Marlins' Dan Straily.

Kendall Graveman would be an interesting target.  He is in his last year before arbitration and would not require a salary dump as he makes the same as Mancini.  Graveman's three more years of control are valuable with the Orioles' rotation currently in flux.  In Oakland, he has shown himself not to be an elite arm, but one capable of competently holding onto the backend of a rotation.  Graveman also likely gets a little more love for his use of a sinker.  However, a low to mid 4.00 ERA player may not exactly excite anyone when it costs someone who has performed as well as Mancini.

Straily has been similarly valuable to Graveman, but has experienced more ups and downs in his career.  His 90 mph four seamer also likely does not inspire much confidence from the Orioles front office.  He also has three more years of control as he enters arbitration after this season.  He tends to outperform his FIP, which either is a skill or a prolonged period of luck.  If skill, he is a mid to high 3.00 ERA pitcher.  If not, he is a high 4.00 ERA pitcher.

Picking up either for Mancini would make the Orioles better in 2017 (though maybe not in 2020-2022).  The Orioles have a redundancy with Davis/Trumbo/Mancini and are experiencing depth issues at starting pitching.  In a vacuum it makes sense to release Jimenez and take on a controllable arm like Graveman.  That said, it will be difficult for them to trade away their fourth most productive hitter.for someone who has produced at a level slightly less than Wade Miley this year.


18 comments:

Richard Hilman said...

Misleading comment. Ubaldo is irrelevant.

Boss61 said...

I agree with Richared Hillman. The headline is tantamount to click-bait. Mancini for a back-of-the-rotation starter with only three years until free agency sounds like lunacy, to put it nicely. The Norfolk options (Aquino, Verrett, Wilson, Wright, Nuno, etc.) are each better now and possess more upside potential than Ubaldo. Asher right now, to me, is no worse than a rotation #4. Real potential there.

Jon Shepherd said...

Meh.

Clickbait would be highlighting Mancini as the deal. People love them some Mancini.

What the title is, is holding the payoff under the fold. That, at best, is the opposite of clickbait.

Pip said...

Jon, I enjoyed the article quite a bit, and I understand it is too soon to annoint Mancini as savior or scrub. But he certainly seems to be offering considerably more than his cost.
Did you consider whether trading Trumbo might be a better option?
Trumbo is a competent first baseman, and would be a value even to the National League team, despite his underperformance so far.
I would rather keep Mancini for his cost and potential and unload Trumbo on somebody.

Jon Shepherd said...

Trumbo has been struggling overall. He is making about 13 MM a year. Not sure why a rebuilding team would want him. And a competitive team with extra pitching...Mayne the Dodgers. But you will probably have to take their dregs.

Jacob Smith said...

I think the Dodgers will entertain offers for Ryu before the deadline. He has value and they have no use for him. Unless at least one of their rotation members gets hurt for the long term - and maybe unless two go down - he's probably worth a lot more to them as trade bait. They'll probably want prospects, though. Granted, A-Gon is struggling this year. But he's been so consistent throughout his career it's hard to see that continuing. And I doubt Trumbo has the value to net Ryu in trade anyway. Mancini might. Maybe Trumbo could get Rich Hill in a swap of overpaid, struggling veterans in need of a change of scenery...

Richard Hilman said...

What ev's, man.

Roger said...

So let's look at this more realistically. First, I also think the headline is misleading. Second, the reliever argument with Asher is a delay not a permanent issue. What is most likely is that the O's do nothing until Britton comes back - essentially their deadline deal. When that happens, Ubaldo will be moved to long relief and Asher into the rotation. Ubaldo did do well in relief last year and that's how he got his mojo back for a September run that fooled everyone into thinking he was a decent pitcher. This is the most realistic and likely scenario. Most of the pen is performing back to their expected standard especially O'Day. Verrett, Ynoa, and Chrichten are decent rotating pieces. Hart and Givens have been overworked. Britton's return will solve that issue. (Note that Hart has looked good at AAA so far). And, like I said in a prior comment, the whole staff revolves around Gausman getting back to good. This team will only go as far as Gausman and Machado can carry them. If the O's can get a top notch relief piece (e.g. Brad Hand) then they can release Ubaldo. I think we already have our Graveman in Asher. Heck, at this point, Ubaldo doesn't have a lot of salary left to dump.

Jon Shepherd said...

Perhaps this was not clear. The Orioles do not like Jimenez in long relief. Jimenez does not like being in long relief. The people in other organizations think that Jimenez is a fringe starter and a minor league relief arm. I think I wrote this in the article, but his issues with control and holding runners makes him a minus reliever. Added to that, clubs have few chances to keep a reliever to junk innings. When Garcia was around it was easier because the whole pen was clicking. This pen ebbs and flows, so all arms are often on deck.

Jimenez really has two ultimate locations: the rotation or on waivers. He might see an inning or two in relief as the club bides its time, but it is rather improbable for him to find a home there with so many people inside the club, outside of the club, and Jimenez himself thinking it to be a terrible fit.

Regarding the headline, move on.

Roger said...

I know, Jon, but he did do pretty well last year in relief before going back in the rotation and flourishing. All I'm saying is that Ubaldo can do long relief until a better replacement is found (or promoted) and then he can be released. Really, everything is a kluge until Britton gets back.

Roger said...

See I told you so.

https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/05/al-notes-jimenez-kintzler-hahn-johnson.html

Jon Shepherd said...

What they have done has yet to contradict my remarks.

jacob Biglen said...

You really think Asher is Kendall graveman? If you looked at Asher's advanced stats you'd see how lucky he has been thus far. This blow up today is not surprising at all, he is at best a decent middle reliever. getting a Kendall graveman would be a huge boon to the orioles because we don't have anything like that competing for the 5 spot in our rotation. We're givIng a game away once a week trotting Jimenez or any of these other AAA arms out there. Mancini is redundant but it'd be hard to part with him right now, but he's really our only asset to deal. hindsight is 20/20 but we should've let trumbo walk. If we can dump trumbo we won't be getting any value back for him.

Mike Lefever said...

Asher is trash. Rotation is a mess. Need more than just a graveman or straily. Team
Going nowhere fast. Getting either of those guys doesn't really make them any better. Wanna get better? Go after a guy like Cole. Then again with an empty farm system the can't really put a package together for a guy like that.

Jon Shepherd said...

Which is why we don't bother with a name like Cole.

Roger said...

You guys are wrong about Asher because of one bad game. He's still young and has more potential then many of the others. But also notice that Ubaldo turned in a typical Ubaldo good performance in relief - gave 2 runs in his first inning and blanks the rest of the way. Granted it was in garbage time but it is how he turned himself around last year. Hopefully, we have just passed the "bad road trip" part of the season. Usually seems to happen in June or so. They did not look good against scrappy teams like Twins and Royals. Seem to do better against masher teams like Boston and NY. The Astros are just head and shoulders better than everyone else right now. The rotation is not that big a mess with Bundy and Miley doing reasonably well and Tillman still basically in Spring Training. If Gausman steps up then Asher would be a perfectly decent #5. They need to look at a guy like Brad Hand - top notch LH reliever who can do middle, close, or even start. The offense has not been bad with Castillo hitting the cover off the ball. But Manny needs to step it up and Adam needs to get well.

Jon Shepherd said...

Roger, please try to stick to fact and not feeling. Jimenez has a 5.61 ERA in relief for his career. There is no such thing as a typical Ubaldo good performance in relief. It really hurts your credibility when you try to force those things when what has actually happened in the real world is quite contrary to that. There is good reason, for which I have expounded on a great deal, why other clubs see him as a minor league reliever and a fringe major league starter. If we invent facts, then we really have no basis to discuss anything.

Roger said...

OK, I'll revise that to a typical "good" Ubaldo performance of any type giving up early runs and then stringing together some blanks - whether it be in relief or not. When he's the "good" Ubaldo, that's how it seems to go. That is why you call him a worse reliever than starter. The bad Ubaldo gives up walks and runs in every inning. He did turn around after being sent to the bullpen last year, although I'll grant that he didn't pitch all that well out of the pen (one of three good outings). And Tillman looked really bad last night. I stand by the rest of what I said. I have always said that the O's have to get whatever they can out of Ubaldo until he is mercifully gone.

Is there any reason not to use Kim as a trade chip? Seems like a better one than Mancini considering his current value to the team.