Putting Ubaldo Jimenez's start in perspective

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Thumbnail image for ubaldo jimenez throwing.jpgAs Aaron noted this morning, Ubaldo Jimenez has been nothing short of amazing to begin the season, going 10-1 with a 0.78 ERA so far. He has now put in 11 straight starts in which he has allowed two earned runs or fewer. Astounding, yes. But unprecedented?

Alas, no.  At least not in terms of the low earned-runs streak. As Raphy at the excellent Baseball-Reference Blog noted after yesterday’s game, one guy actually started his season with 12 straight games in which he allowed two runs or fewer.  The man: Edinson Volquez in 2008.  Wasn’t expecting him.

The others on that list are an interesting lot.  Juan Marichal’s 1966 actually makes Jimenez’s 2010 look rather pedestrian, as Marichal had an ERA of 0.59 through ten starts and a 60/8 K/BB ratio.  No one was touching the Dominican Dandy in the early going that year.

But I guess the most striking thing on the list is what’s not there: truly historic seasons. Yes, there’s a Cy Young award in there — Greinke’s 2009 year — but no seasons that people remember forever like Bob Gibson’s 1968 or any of Sandy Koufax’s big years.  As Raphy notes, just about all of those guys fell back to Earth a bit after their fast starts, some of them in a pretty major way (see, Moore, Barry; 1969). Really, Marichal’s was the only big time season there, and even then he was bested by Koufax in the long haul that year.

This isn’t to rain on Jimenez’s parade. What he’s doing is fantastic and, at the moment, he’s got to be considered the favorite for the Cy Young award (sorry, Roy).  But it is premature to call his season historic for the simple reason that such streaks aren’t generally sustainable and there’s a lot of baseball yet to be played.

Jose Canseco to join NBC Sports California as an A’s analyst

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Hey, I have a new coworker: Jose Canseco has been hired by NBC Sports California as an Athletics pregame analyst.

OK, maybe he’s not technically a coworker, as the folks at NBC Sports California — formerly CSN Bay Area — and I do not hang out at the water cooler, have potlucks in the conference room or exchange secret Santa gifts at Christmas time, but dang it, I’m gonna TELL people I work with Jose Canseco. The only downside will be people assuming that, because he and I are on the same team, my performance is something less than authentic. Or, perhaps, Canseco may write another book and tell all of my secrets.

Anyway, Canseco will be part of NBC Sports California’s A’s Pregame Live and A’s Postgame Live shows. Live TV can be hard. I’ve done a bit of it, and there is certainly more to that gig than meets the eye. You can’t always prepare for what happens on the fly. I’m sure Canseco will do well, however, as he’s great with coming up with the best stuff off the top of his head.

2017 Preview: Cleveland Indians

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Cleveland Indians.

The Cleveland Indians almost won the World Series without their best hitter for the whole season and two of their starting pitchers for the playoffs. This year that hitter — Michael Brantley — is back and the starters — Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar — are healthy. Oh, and they added arguably the best free agent bat available in Edwin Encarnacion.

Baseball teams love to downplay their expectations, but given where the Indians are at the moment, anything less than another American League Pennant will have to feel like a disappointment, right? Fortunately for the Indians, they stand as the favorites to do just that.

They didn’t lose much in the offseason. Yes, World Series hero Rajai Davis is gone, but the Indians outfield will be fine if Brantley remains healthy. Mike Napoli‘s loss will be felt but it will be made up for with Encarnacion’s bat and probably then some. Coco Crisp left too, but he was not a key part of the equation.

The biggest losses are guys from last year who will start the year on the disabled list, most notably Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall. Kipnis is just starting to work out following time off to rest his sore shoulder. Chisenhall ran into a wall the other day and is being evaluated. There is no sense that either will miss extended time, however.

Otherwise, the lineup should score a lot of runs, with on-base machines Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor setting the table for Encarnacion, Brantley and Carlos Santana, who is entering his walk year. The Indians trailed only the Red Sox in runs scored in the American League last year and they should score a lot of runs this year as well.

The strength of the club, however, remains its pitching. Corey Kluber looked like his old Cy Young self last year, particularly in the playoffs. Danny Salazar built on his excellent 2015 season in the first half before falling prey to injury. Carlos Carrasco posted an ERA+ of 141 before breaking his hand and Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer both stood out for fourth and fifth starters.

The bullpen is excellent too, as relief ace Andrew Miller is joined by Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw and newcomer Boone Logan make up one of the relief corps in baseball.

Pitcher health is probably the biggest uncertainty for any contender, but the Indians have the best pitching in the AL if everyone stays healthy. And maybe even if one or two guys don’t.

It’s hard to find much fault with the 2017 Cleveland Indians. They are the class of their division and, while the slog of the regular season turns a lot of surefire contenders into hash before it’s all said and done, there is no reason to look at the Indians right now and think of them as anything other than the best team in the American League.

Prediction: First place, American League Central.