Though the Orioles’ offense failed to score a run (at one point going 19 outs between base runners), the real story of Saturday’s 6-0 loss was Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez, making his second start since returning from the disabled list, walked the first two batters he faced, and gave up three runs in the first inning. I could go further into the “not so lovely totals,” but there is no point. In short, we have seen this film before. We know how it ends.
So yes, the “offense” was abysmal, but it was not the story in this game. This game was about the Orioles’ $50 million man choking again. The same guy whose return to the 25-man roster resulted in Miguel Gonzalez (you know, one of the starters who does not consistently implode?) being optioned to the minors.
At some point, something has to give.
First, let me acknowledge that the options are terrible, and the decision is not easy. With a lot of money and three years left on his contract, Jimenez cannot simply be cut. This is an albatross the Orioles are going to have to fix or live with. Additionally, sending him to the bullpen is not an ideal solution, because it requires sending an arm that has proven to be a quality one down, so that a failed starter can be avoided as much as possible. Worse yet – at some point that seventh man in the bullpen is needed.
But as “sub-optimal” as sending Jimenez to the bullpen might be, it is a better option than simply giving up on every fifth day. Maybe that would have flown on a Trembley team, but not a Showalter one. Not a Showalter team making a run for the playoffs. The stakes are simply too high to allow a pitcher who is lost on the mound to put your team hopelessly behind each time he pitches.
After Saturday’s loss, Showalter was asked about Jimenez’s role moving forward. Can’t accuse the Orioles’ beat writers for pulling punches in this instance.
Showalter said if Jimenez is pulled from the rotation he will hear it from Buck first. In other words he wouldn’t answer the ? Directly
— Dan Connolly (@danconnollysun) August 17, 2014
This is not about overreacting because the Orioles lost a couple of games, now that we’ve been spoiled by such a high level of play. No one is breaking the glass to get to the panic button. This is not about a lack of understanding of the dollars, psychology, and roster complexities that go into a personnel decisions at the major league level.
This is about a playoff-bound team that cannot afford to limp through August and September. It is about a fan base that deserves better, as the window begins to close.
Ubaldo Jimenez hurts this team as a starter right now. He can do far less damage in the bullpen. Let the Orioles figure out how to salvage him as an asset for the remainder of his contract at some later date. Instead, make the tough decision now that benefits the last 41 games of the 2014 season.