The interest in Ubaldo Jimenez is divided into two camps. There's the group of teams that views him through a glass-half-full prism: It values his overall talent, his window of dominance in 2010, his improved performances this season and his reputation for being a first-rate person. These teams are satisfied that he's healthy and are ready to make a deal for a player with a very team-friendly contract. The Tigers and Reds are among those teams.
Then there are teams that view him through a glass-half-empty prism: They see the diminished velocity and the overall dip in command and performance this year, and they wonder why Colorado -- a small-market/mid-market team -- would be willing to move a pitcher who is theoretically a No. 1 starter-type talent who has a tremendous risk-free contract. These teams are probably not going to step up and make a deal for Jimenez in the last hours before the trade deadline.
The Rockies are in a strange place today, which other teams consider to be pivotal in the Jimenez talks. If Colorado maintains its very high asking price for the pitcher, it may have difficulty making a deal. If the Rockies lower their asking price, this will serve as confirmation for some teams that Colorado is intent on moving the pitcher as soon as possible, rather than waiting until the offseason for a deal.
To review, Jimenez's numbers: 6-9, 4.20 ERA in 2011, after going 19-8, 2.88 in 2010. His month-by-month ERA this year:
In the thin air of Colorado this year, he has posted a 5.55 ERA, but on the road, his numbers are much better, with a 2.83 ERA. He ranks 84th among 110 pitchers in batting average on balls in play, at .298, which suggests he's been unlucky; last year, he ranked 12th, at .255.
His contract almost couldn't be more attractive for a team looking to acquire an experienced front-line starting pitcher: He's making just $2.8 million this year, $4.2 million in 2012, and he has a team option for $5.75 million in 2013. A 2014 team option for $8 million goes away if he is traded.
There is a perception among other teams that Detroit is desperate to deal for another high-end starter, given the struggles of Brad Penny (opponents have an OPS of .900 against him).
Jimenez would fit the Reds' restructured priorities; Cincinnati is trying to improve the team for 2011, but in light of the Reds' slide this week, any major acquisition would have to be able to help in 2012 and maybe beyond. The Reds are looking for a starting pitcher and a leadoff hitter, which is why they've been talking to the Houston Astros about Michael Bourn.
• The question of Jimenez's future is hanging over the Rockies, writes Troy Renck.
• Rival officials peg Hunter Pence's arbitration awards at about $10 million and $14-15 million over the next two years, which is why his trade value was never going to be higher than it is right now, and why it was the right move for the Astros to trade the outfielder now for a couple of high-end prospects.
And from the Phillies' perspective, Pence makes the Phillies better now, giving them the veteran right-handed hitter Charlie Manuel has pined for since spring training. Pence is a high-energy-type person, and it will be interesting to see whether his transition to the Phillies will be smooth -- certainly, he'll be surrounded by better and more experienced players -- or whether he'll have to cope with some anxiety, given the pressures of the situation. Some other teams had pegged Pence as someone not worth the price; we'll see.
The Phillies rounded out their club with the addition of Pence, writes
Jim Salisbury. Philadelphia kept Domonic Brown, as Jay Greenberg writes. This was the Phillies' latest buzzer-beater, as Paul Hagen writes.
Pence was emotional after getting word of the deal, as Zachary Levine writes.
From ESPN Stats & Info: How does Pence help the Phillies? For starters, he hits right-handed, and the Phils have struggled with lefties all season.
He also has four Defensive Runs Saved this season, better than either of the Phillies' corner outfielders: Brown minus-3 and Raul Ibanez minus-15.
Pence is hitting .308 this season, but he has been helped by an extraordinarily high BABIP. He's slugging .471, but his 8.1 percent home run-to-fly ball rate and .163 isolated power are by far the lowest of his career.
• The Braves missed out on Carlos Beltran, then Pence, so now they will presumably pluck one of the lower-tier outfielders available -- and in light of the injury to Nate McLouth and the physical problems that have nagged Jordan Schafer, acquiring a center fielder is a priority, which is why they have had interest in Bourn, Denard Span and Coco Crisp. Their level of interest in B.J. Upton is unclear, but the Rays are willing to move Upton at a price more modest than that of Pence.
Talent evaluators say the asking price for Bourn is high, and given the bloodletting done with Pence, it's possible the Astros might decide to keep Bourn, who grew up in Houston. While the Astros are clearly in rebuilding mode, incoming owner Jim Crane might not want to strip the deal down to its marrow.
"You still have to try to win games," one team official said.
But as with Pence, it's hard to imagine Bourn's trade value is going to get any higher than it will be in the next 30 hours; he will be eligible for free agency after next season, and his agent is Scott Boras, so there is a strong chance he will walk away from the Astros in 15 months anyway. Bourn is hitting .306, with a .367 on-base percentage, and for the Reds or the Braves, he would be exactly what is needed at the top of their respective lineups. Bourn has 39 steals in 46 attempts, as well.
• The Tigers are weighing a hefty price for a fifth starter, writes Lynn Henning.
• Hiroki Kuroda is known to be a smart and thoughtful person, and those who know him say if the Dodgers are going to trade him, they probably need to do so sometime today to give him time to process his options and decide whether he wants to waive his no-trade clause.
There is a strong belief among rival executives that Kuroda is going to be traded, to either the Yankees or the Red Sox -- although the Dodgers' initial asking price for a top catching or pitching prospect was viewed as very high, considering Kuroda is owed a significant amount of money for the rest of this year and he is expected to return to Japan for next season.
• The Yankees are still well-positioned to consider options for DH, as they did last year before the trade deadline, with the addition of Lance Berkman -- someone like a Carlos Pena of the Cubs, for example, if the Cubs look to move his contract.
• This is the time of year when opinions can be greatly swayed by one or two performances, and it could be that Jeremy Guthrie opened some eyes by beating the Yankees in Yankee Stadium on Friday. He is available, at the right price, although the Orioles do have a major concern about trading the right-hander. If they deal him, who replaces him, especially in 2012? The Orioles will have a very difficult time luring free agents to cozy Camden Yards to pitch against the AL East monsters.
• The Diamondbacks are staying patient as the trade deadline approaches.
• The McCourts' divorce proceedings could cost $35 million.
And today will be better than yesterday.