Orioles demote Ubaldo Jimenez to the bullpen

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The Orioles’ four-year, $50 million deal with starter Ubaldo Jimenez is already looking like a disaster.

Jimenez registered a 4.83 ERA and 1.55 WHIP over his first 20 outings this season and now MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli reports that the right-hander has been demoted to the bullpen for the stretch run. Miguel Gonzalez will return from Triple-A Norfolk this weekend to fill Baltimore’s vacant rotation spot.

Jimenez was one of the best starters in baseball in 2010, when he finished third in the National League Cy Young Award voting after posting a 2.88 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 214 strikeouts across 221 2/3 innings for the Rockies. But a lack of command has always been a major issue — even in that standout 2010 season — and he’ll finish out 2014 as a mop-up man.

Kyle Schwarber is “probably, arguably” in The Best Shape of His Life

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Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.

Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.

To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.