Ubaldo Jimenez off to Cy Young-winning start at 8-1 with 0.99 ERA

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Ubaldo Jimenez left last night’s start after a season-low 92 pitches because of hamstring cramping, but not before holding the Astros’ lowly lineup to one hit over seven shutout innings. Jimenez is now 8-1 with a 0.99 ERA through nine starts, with his only loss coming on May 9 when he allowed just two hits over seven innings of one-run ball only to see Clayton Kershaw shut out the Rockies.
Plenty of players have amazing numbers six weeks into every season, but I was curious about how Jimenez’s blazing start stacks up against recent Cy Young winners. Here’s what the past 10 award winners did through their first nine starts:

YEAR     CYA WINNER          W     L      ERA
2009     Tim Lincecum        3     1     3.45
2009     Zack Greinke        7     1     0.82
2008     Tim Lincecum        5     1     1.92
2008     Cliff Lee           7     1     1.50
2007     Jake Peavy          5     1     1.64
2007     CC Sabathia         6     1     3.65
2006     Brandon Webb        6     0     2.78
2006     Johan Santana       4     4     3.23
2005     Chris Carpenter     6     2     4.07
2005     Bartolo Colon       5     3     2.67



Jimenez has more victories through nine starts than any of the past 10 winners and only Zack Greinke last season had a lower ERA. Greinke ended up with just 16 wins last season because the Royals’ lineup and bullpen repeatedly let him down in the second half, but he was 7-1 with a 0.82 ERA through nine starts and 8-1 with a 0.84 ERA through 10 starts. Jimenez would need to throw 11.2 shutout innings in his next start to get his ERA down to 0.84.
In general though, Jimenez in definitely off to a Cy Young-winning start, as the past 10 award winners have averaged 5.4 wins, 1.5 losses, and a 2.57 ERA through nine outings. Of course, when Livan Hernandez is right on Jimenez’s heels with a 1.62 ERA it’s probably way too early to start thinking about such things.

Mariano Rivera to get his plaque in Monument Park on August 14

Mariano Rivera
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The greatest closer in history is going to get the ultimate honor the New York Yankees bestow on August 14. That’s when Mariano Rivera will get his plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium before a game against the Rays.

There was some chatter in the last year or two about whether the Yankees were somehow lowering their standards out there, what with guys like Tino Martinez getting honored. But if that’s something you care about it won’t matter in this instance. Rivera would’ve been worthy even if the old snobby ways had held and only inner-circle types got a plaque, what with him being a key member of five World Series-winning teams and his status as the all-time saves leader in the regular season and the postseason.

The Yankees retired Rivera’s No. 42 in 2013. He’ll get his plaque in August. Then, on the first ballot for which he is eligible, he’ll be voted into the Hall of Fame, likely with a percentage in the mid-to-high 90s.

Dodgers “trying to trade” Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero
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Alex Guerrero is a potentially good right-handed bat without a position to play in Los Angeles, so Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that the Dodgers are “trying to trade” him makes sense.

Guerrero, who signed with the Dodgers out of Cuba for $28 million in October of 2013, spent last season in the majors hitting .233 with 11 homers and a .695 OPS in a part-time role that generated 230 plate appearances. He logged a total of just 355 innings defensively, mostly as a left fielder and third baseman.

Guerrero could be intriguing–particularly to an American League team for whom his defense isn’t much of an issue–because he hit .329 with 15 homers and a 1.113 OPS in 65 games at Triple-A in 2014 and was consistently a .300 hitter with an OPS around 1.000 in Cuba. He’s also 29 years old, so Guerrero is no doubt looking to play regularly.

The New Zealand World Baseball Classic team performs the Haka

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It’s World Baseball Classic time again. Just the qualifying rounds. The actual tournament happens in 2017. Qualifiers will happen in Sydney, Australia, Mexicali, Mexico, Panama City, Panama and Brooklyn, N.Y., periodically, between now and September.

The Sydney round just got underway yesterday, so yes, some actual baseball is going on. As I’ve written and ranted before, the WBC is not my favorite thing that happens in baseball and certainly not the most important thing, but it’s pretty fun. Especially when there are displays of enthusiasm and pageantry and the like.

Such as the Haka, which basically every New Zealand sports team does and which never gets old:

 

Down in Sydney, the Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and South Africa teams are competing in a six-game, modified double-elimination format. In the other three qualifying rounds, Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany, Nicaragua, Colombia, France, Panama, Spain, Brazil, Great Britain, Israel and Pakistan will compete. Each qualifying round puts one representative in the WBC.

Those four qualifiers will compete in the WBC itself against countries that performed well enough in the past that they need not submit to qualifying: Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela.

Someone make sure Jon Morosi is well-hyrdrated. It’s gonna be a long year.

Yovani Gallardo and the Orioles are both “optimistic” about a deal

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Multiple reports Wednesday had the Orioles and free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo deep in negotiations on a multi-year deal. Nothing has been finalized yet, but Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com says “both sides appear to be pretty optimistic still.”

Ghiroli adds that the “ball is in the Orioles’ court,” although that may simply reveal her likely source to be Gallardo’s agent. Whatever the case, Baltimore is apparently now willing to forfeit their first-round draft pick to sign Galllardo and he may lead to a domino effect in which they also forfeit a second-round draft pick to sign outfielder Dexter Fowler.

The idea being that if you’re going to cough up the 14th overall pick to sign a mid-level free agent with spring training right around the corner you might as well cough up a lower draft pick to sign a second one. Gallardo has shown signs of decline, including a big dip in strikeout rate, but he logged 184 innings with a 3.42 ERA for the Rangers last season.