As the first pitcher in ten years to win fifteen games prior to the all-star break, Ubaldo Jimenez has made a case as the best pitcher the Colorado Rockies have ever had. He has only made the case at this point, because theoretically everything could turn around and he may not win a game in the second half of the season.
That won’t happen of course because Ubaldo isn’t just winning by chance. He is dominating his opponents. Take last night for example; eight innings, three hits, one earned run. Ubaldo is bringing the excitement of dominating defense (if there is such a thing in baseball) to the Mile High
The only forseeable problem in the near future is management. See, the Monfort’s don’t have a history of having the most liberal pocket book, and they are getting an absolute steal with Ubaldo. Although for most people Ubaldo’s salary would be out of this world, by baseball standards it is nowhere near fair value. Comparing him to the top ten winningest pitchers in the league this year, it is easy to see that Ubaldo is likely the best value in baseball. (spreadsheets.google.com/ccc)
Of the top ten pitchers, Ubaldo is the third lowest paid out of all ten making $1,275,000 in 2010.
Even though he is not the lowest paid, his production indicates that he is actually a better value than the two that are paid less than he. Mike Pelfrey of the New York Mets will make $500,000 in 2010, but has only won 66% of the games that Ubaldo has with ten, has lost two more with three losses, has only 60% as many strike outs with 67 compared to 113 and has an ERA that is 54% higher. Phil Hughes of the New York Yankees is set to make $447,000 and has similar numbers to those of Mike Pelfrey.
Right now the Monforts are paying Ubaldo $83,333.33 per win and THAT IS IF HE DOES NOT WIN ANOTHER GAME IN 2010! If Ubaldo stopped winning today and the other top five pitchers on the list went on to pitch fantastic seasons and win 18 games in 2010, there would still not be a pitcher that came within $20,000 per win of Ubaldo. If Adam Wainright, making just under $5,000,000 per year, could win 18 games, he would still be paid more than three times as much per win based on Ubaldo’s mid season stats! C.C. Sabathia, who is ridiculously overpaid, would be paid $1,349,206.33 per win if he were to hit 18 wins this season, that’s more than Ubaldo will make all year!
All these numbers are not a mere exercise in mathematics. It’s to illustrate the point that Ubaldo Jimenez is the best investment in baseball this year. He has started in 18 games in half the season, if we reasonably expect him to start another 18, he would only need to win 5 or 27.7% of his remaining games to become a 20 game winner. Although he does not have the lowest ERA in the majors, at 2.20, it is the lowest ERA of any of the top ten winningest pitchers. I think almost any athlete will tell you, winning is everything. If Ubaldo had the highest ERA, and still had the most wins, he would still be happy. To have that low of an ERA is merely icing on the cake! It doesn’t stop at ERA either as he has the third most strikeouts, the third most innings pitched, the second lowest WHIP average, and the fewest losses.
So let’s go back to the Monforts. While they have stepped up on occasion and paid players, take Todd Helton making $17,775,000 in 2010 or Aaron Cook making $9,625,000, with such overpowering numbers by Ubaldo it is a virtual lock that teams will seek his services in coming seasons, and if a bidding war ensues, it is almost impossible to imagine the Rockies winning it. The Rockies currently sit two games out of first place in the NL west and it is due in no small part to Ubaldo Jimenez. The next best Rockies pitcher is Jason Hammel who has won only six games! If Ubaldo were pitching as
well as the rest of the Rockies pitching staff, it is not unreasonable to think that the Rockies would be five or six games out of first and not in a position to potentially take the lead in the NL west in the upcoming series against the Padres.
Unfortunately I feel that in the not too distant future we will see Ubaldo Jimenez in an opposing uniform. It is a shame for Rockies fans that at the end of the day the business side of baseball will likely overpower the emotional side and the highest bidder will reap the benefits of Ubaldo’s amazing talents.
If that scenario plays out, it will also be a shame for the Monfort family because without Ubaldo, the Rockies would find themselves where they traditionally have been; a mediocre to bad team that can’t fill a stadium, sell merchandise outside of the occasional baseball cap or make the playoffs, or continue
playing into the fall A revenue stream would begin to dry up. The potential return on investment from Ubaldo would far outweigh any up front cost in re-signing and paying what he is worth.