More often than not this column is about who to pick up, who to believe in, who's on the rise. But today, we're going in the other direction, we're getting mean, we're writing out a pink slip.
Today, I implore you to drop Ubaldo Jimenez. Cut the cord. Write out the pink slip. Kick him to the curb. Move on with your life, give another pitcher a chance.
Jimenez had another messy start in Tuesday's loss at Chicago, allowing eight hits and seven runs (four earned) over 4.2 messy innings. What's more of an indictment: walking six against just one strikeout, or giving up three hits (including a homer) to Gordon Beckham? You decide.
The stats and the scouts are all in agreement on Jimenez: he's a hot mess in 2012. His surface stats are crushing fantasy teams (5.02 ERA, 1.74 WHIP, 20 walks against 14 strikeouts) and it's not like he's tricking hitters (21.4 line-drive rate, 4.9 percent swinging-strike rate). His fastball velocity, which was in the 94-96 range for the best of his Colorado days, averages 92.0 this year. His wonky delivery is all over the place, anything but repeatable.
I knew market confidence in Jimenez was dead two weeks ago, when he was offered to me three separate times in unsolicited trades. Jimenez for Jose Valverde? Sorry, buddy, I have a TV and the Internet, too. Jimenez has since been dropped in that league.
Starting pitchers tend to be a fickle lot, of course. Maybe Jimenez is hurt right now, or maybe there's a simple mechanical tweak that will fix him down the road. But in a typical mixed league, there's no need to struggle with a collapsing starter – you can always find acceptable replacement pitching elsewhere. Let Jimenez be a problem for someone else. In the words of the timeless Norm Peterson, give him the one way ticket to Dump City.
Jimenez is still rostered in 78 percent of Yahoo! leagues, a number I find shocking. Come on, gamers, you're better than that. Time to go shopping. Jimenez has wrecked your ratios enough for one quarter.
While you're pointing and clicking for a new pitcher, here are some other roto stories from the Tuesday sandlots:
• Heath Bell finally gave us the smooth 1-2-3 handshake we've been pining for, though he got some breaks at San Francisco. Brandon Belt swung at two pitches out of the strike zone in his three-pitch at-bat, a curious approach given how much Bell has struggled with control this year. Belt ultimately flew out to right and Nate Schierholtz skied to center. Ryan Theriot followed with what looked to be a clean double inside the right-field line, but first-base umpire Jerry Meals waved the ball foul. The game then ended on a routine grounder to second. Considering the three-year, $27 million deal Bell signed, he's going to get plenty of chances to make this closer gig work.
A handful of other struggling Marlins got off the skids: Jose Reyes reached base twice, stole a base and scored a run, Hanley Ramirez had a hit, bag and RBI, and Giancarlo Stanton finally launched his second homer. My stance on them going forward hasn't changed: I think Reyes will be fine, I'm always worried about something going wrong with Ramirez, and I'd sell on Stanton as soon as you can find something worth selling. You'll probably have to accept a loss on Stanton if you work off his March price — everyone knows about the knee problem — but I think it's still worth it. You can't be married with how you viewed these players on May 15, the values are forever fluid.
• When I saw Dee Gordon's home run show up on the Tuesday ticker, I thought for sure it had to be an inside-the-park job, a line drive to the gaps of Colorado. Alas, it was a no-doubter all the way; Baby Flash absolutely crushed a juicy offering from Jhoulys Chacin. The rest of the lineup found Chacin just as hospitable (4.2 IP, 11 H, 7 R, 4 BB, 3 K, 3 HR); although the Colorado righty still has a nifty strikeout rate, his control problems and gopher-ball issues push you away.
The hosts made the things interesting in the late innings, but the Dodgers eventually secured the game with their original bullpen blueprint. Kenley Jansen worked the eighth (allowing one run and a couple of hits) and Javy Guerra closed up, striking out three of the four men he faced in the ninth. Guerra's game-ending strikeout of Carlos Gonzalez might have been a pivotal moment in this bullpen; if Gonzo gets a hit, perhaps the Dodgers are looking at a closer change going forward. Instead, it's business as usual.
• I watched every pitch from Adam Wainwright (something I'm wont to do) and I saw the same guy we've observed for most of the season. His fastball is still a few ticks off where it used to be in his glory days and more importantly, he'd not commanding it as well as he'd like to. But he's not walking anyone and he's still getting strikeouts, and the final line was useful, especially with a victory attached (7 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 6 K, 2 HR). Jose Tabata and Arcade Propaganda Item Pedro Alvarez (seriously, go get him) went deep off Wainwright, and Rod Barajas crushed a fastball off the center field wall, missing a dinger by a few feet. I'd still trade for Wainwright in a second if you can find a nervous owner looking to sell. Better days are ahead.
Allen Craig's 2012 debut had a slow start (two early strikeouts) but he rallied late, producing a couple of singles and a stolen base. He knocked in one run and drove in one. Craig started at first base, showing that versatility we know and love; he's played every position on the diamond during his career except shortstop, pitcher and catcher. Just find a way to get him into the lineup, Mike Matheny.
• I had another long look at Jarrod Parker and it's easy to be impressed. He's got three decent pitches and remarkable poise, and he didn't flinch one bit working in Fenway Park against what might be the AL's best offense. Parker worked into the seventh and finished with a strong line (6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K). Here's your scouting video, see what you think of it.
To be fair, it was a rainy night in Boston and the wind was gusting in, crushing just about anything hit in the air, but that's not going to stem my conclusion. In any standard 12-team mixer where the innings or start cap isn't crazy-low, Parker should be on a roster. Use him for all the Oakland turns, be judicious on the road. He's in the majors to stay.
Parker's first win almost didn't happen because Grant Balfour blew up in the ninth, allowing four of five men to reach. Lefty Jordan Norberto was summoned for the final two outs (Brian Fuentes worked the seventh), whiffing Lars Anderson (I guess James Hetfield was unavailable) and getting Dustin Pedroia to ground out. Kevin Youkilis was shown limbering up and stretching out prior to the Anderson at-bat, but it either was a ploy from the Boston dugout or it turned into a fruitless mission. The wait for Will Middlebrooks goes on (perhaps we'll see him as soon as today).
• Jon Niese couldn't find his best form at Minute Maid Park, allowing five runs and a couple of homers over three washout innings. It's hard to concentrate in Houston, what with all the pretty girls in the stands. Jed Lowrie clocked a two-run homer and added three walks; the only skill he's lacking in his short career is "health" but otherwise, I'm completely sold on him. Brett Myers and his ZZ Top beard rocked the ninth inning, throwing 11 stress-free pitches and getting a 1-2-3 handshake. Don't mess with Tejas. I just hope Myers can sneak out 20-25 saves before the Astros start to aggressively shop him around.
• A quick word about those buzzy Washington Nationals; you know, the guys with Strasburg and Harper. This team can't hit — at least, it hasn't hit a lick through five weeks. The Nats rank 28th in three key offensive categories (runs, batting average, home runs), and their .323 slugging percentage is worst in the majors. Injuries are part of the story, sure, but even when everyone is hale, there will be holes in this lineup. Teasing Trevor Cahill strolled through 22 outs in Washington on Tuesday (6 H. 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K), collecting 17 ground-ball outs along the way. Are you rolling with Joe Saunders as a Wednesday streamer? I didn't go that route because I don't like his strikeout potential, but I can see the pro side of the argument.
Speed Round: Maybe it's time for Luke Hochevar to go Fraggle Rock full time, because he's not getting anyone out. The Tigers threw 12 hits and nine runs at him Tuesday, pushing the ERA up to 7.36. At what point do the Royals accept that Hochevar needs a shot in the bullpen? . . . Phil Hughes is who we thought he was (batting practice), but somehow Brian Matusz buzzed through The Bronx with hardly a scratch (6.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K). I'll need more evidence from Matusz before I entertain a pickup; there's too much bad history here, and the division is a nightmare for a pitcher . . . Ty Wigginton only had one hit at Atlanta but it was good for two runs. His lineup spot is a little more secure with Jim Thome landing on the disabled list, and Wiggy always brings plenty of positions to the table (first, third, outfield). The Godfather of the Waiver Wire is still free in 83 percent of Yahoo! leagues . . . The Fernando Rodney leash keeps getting longer and longer. Rodney sealed up Tuesday's win with a three-strikeout ninth (that sideways hat drives hitters crazy), while Kyle Farnsworth (elbow) was shifted to the 60-day disabled list. Farnsworth can't return until the first week of June at the earliest, and he hasn't started throwing yet. Just accept the new reality: the Rays have fixed Rodney, and he's headed for 30-plus saves. If you own him and don't believe these things, trade him to me, I'll pay up . . . A start against Minnesota is good work if you can get it. Jerome Williams rolled through the Twins with a three-hit shutout (1 BB, 6 K), needing just 109 pitches. Send it in, Jerome! Underrated lefty Jason Vargas is a possible stream against Minnesota, drawing a Safeco start on Friday . . . This entire column was composed while listening to Radiohead. If you don't like Radiohead, donate your ears to science.