If Phil is right, do the Yankees need Ubaldo?
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — That’s the question I’m pondering from St. Pete, just a few hours before the start of a four-game series against the Rays and just a few hours removed from a very convincing start by Phil Hughes.
Hughes looked awfully close to that 18-game winner from 2010 against the Blue Jays on Sunday, when he notched his first win and first quality start, retired eight of his final nine hitters he faced and registered just 80 pitches through six innings. He could’ve gone longer, but Hughes (pictured left by The Associated Press) went deep enough to make a very important point — he looks like an effective starting pitcher again.
Over the All-Star break, the right-hander worked with pitching coach Larry Rothschild on better aligning his stride towards the plate and adjusting his curveball grip. That grip gave him a much sharper breaking ball he was able to use as a reliable No. 2 pitch to offset his four-seamer (one that consistently sat in the 92- to 93-mph range and got better as the game wore on).
Now, the question: If Hughes truly is back, and he’s the 2010 version again, do the Yankees need Ubaldo Jimenez?
Here’s the thing about Jimenez: Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd doesn’t really have to move him. It reminds me a lot of the situation with Padres closer Heath Bell in recent years. Jimenez is under club control for a while (signed through 2012 with two additional club options thereafter), he’s awfully affordable (making no more than $8 million through 2014) and his stock is rather low (Jimenez is 5-8 with a 4.08 ERA in 18 starts this year — though he does have a 2.56 ERA since the start of June).
Since the Rockies are 9 1/2 games out of first place and the starting-pitching market is weak, it’s not surprising they would shop him. But considering all the above-mentioned factors, it’s no wonder Colorado seeks the sun and the moon for the services of Ubaldo (pictured right by the AP).
MLB.com colleague Thomas Harding says the Rockies are at least listening to offers for Jimenez, but a deal remains unlikely. Peter Gammons, meanwhile, put the chances of a deal at 10 percent. We all know how quickly things can change as the non-waiver Trade Deadline draws closer, though.
With regards to the Yankees, the names that have surfaced as potential pieces to a deal are the likes of Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Ivan Nova and Jesus Montero (though SI.com is reporting today that Montero wouldn’t be the centerpiece of the potential trade, since the Rockies don’t view him as a catcher).
Now, if Hughes is right, then the Yankees would have an in-house rotation of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Hughes at the top, with the final spots going to any two between Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia and Nova.
Would they still need Jimenez to make a return trip to the playoffs? And would it be worth it to give up what the Rockies would want in return?
Curious to hear your thoughts.
Some links from the series finale in Toronto …
* Efficient Hughes looks strong in first win
* Yankees Notebook, on Gardner, Dickerson, Teixeira and A-Rod
* Yankees intend to push Rays down standings