As rumors swirl around the Rockies’ asking price for Ubaldo Jimenez and various teams’ interest level in the 27-year-old right-hander, Jimenez made it clear yesterday that he’s not looking to be traded and wants to remain in Colorado for the rest of his career, telling Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post:
As a player, you always want to be on the same team for your whole career. I’d like to finish my career here, but that’s something you can’t control. Baseball is a really good game, but there’s a business side. You want to be an example when you talk to other guys about being in the organization. You always want to set a good example for guys coming from another team or the minor leagues. They’ll do what’s best for the team.
Jimenez signed with the Rockies out of the Dominican Republic as a 17-year-old, so he’s been in the organization for 11 years. He also inked a long-term contract extension in January of 2009 that keeps him under team control through 2014, which has actually made him a more attractive trade target.
And unlike most pitchers Jimenez’s career numbers suggest that he wouldn’t benefit a ton from no longer calling Coors Field home, as he has a 3.68 ERA in 413 innings in Colorado compared to a 3.51 ERA in 425 innings on the road. His numbers would likely be better elsewhere because every pitcher would benefit from not having to pitch half his games at Coors Field, but so far at least Jimenez has been very well-suited for Colorado’s ballpark and the extra run support there has made him 29-19 at home versus 26-25 on the road.
Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.
While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.
Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”
He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”
Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.
According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”
Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.