I started a bit of a Twitterstorm among my followers Tuesday night when I sort of, kind of defended Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez.
I didn’t defend his start Tuesday night – six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings – or his maddening inconsistency that we see from game to game and sometimes from inning to inning.
What I did defend was the notion that the Orioles need to cut him after 45 innings this year and a 5.60 ERA in eight starts. It’s been a rough beginning, and when he can’t locate his pitches and turns into a nibbling machine, it is so tough to digest.
When you factor in that the Orioles gave Jimenez a four-year, $50 million contract before the 2014 season, it’s understandable that fans are frustrated, ticked, whatever you want to say.
But cut Jimenez?
No, that’s silly. And it can’t and won’t happen.
He is owed roughly $23.5 million or so over the next year-plus (his contract ends after 2017). That’s a whole lot of money. And though he likely won’t earn that going forward, his career as an Oriole has been — wait for it — serviceable enough that you have to take the bad and hope for the good.
Understand that Jimenez can’t be sent to the minors. And that another team isn’t going to trade for him unless basically most of that contract is absorbed. So just stop suggesting those options.
And understand that as bad as Jimenez has looked at times in his Orioles career, he had a 4.33 ERA in his two-plus seasons here heading into Tuesday night.
As much as fans have complained about Jimenez, his two, full season ERAs here are 4.81 and 4.11. Not good; not worth $13 million per year. Not justification of his contract. But, at this point, given the circumstances, enough to keep him in the rotation, unless better alternatives arise.
And they won’t, because there will be games when Jimenez is very good. And will tease everyone with the possibility that he is about to go into one of his good stretches.
That constant tightrope act is certainly not what the fans, the Orioles or Jimenez want. But it is the reality of the situation.
He’s going to get the ball every fifth day. Certainly until Yovani Gallardo comes back and most likely beyond that.
Jimenez is what he is. And what that is, frankly, is an Orioles starting pitcher. Like it or not.