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Jerry Coleman Passes Away

Padres broadcaster, Frick award winner, Marine Corps Colonel, World Series Champion, and class act human being Jerry Coleman has passed away at the age of 89.

No official cause of death has been announced as of Monday January 6 at 12pm EST. The Associated Press mention a “breif illness,” citing a statement from the Padres, but details beyond that are not currently available.

His death has unleashed a torrent of feelings and farewells from all over the web. Among the tributes is a very hearfelt goodbye and reaction from Ted Leitner, who worked alongside Jerry for decades and is the most public facing person that knew Jerry well.

One should expect the tributes to culminate in a very somber ceremony at Petco Park, perhaps on Opening Day. I am personally of the mind that this season’s jersey should include a patch in remembrance of Coleman, who was not only an exemplary human being but is part of a generation of greater, tougher and braver men than are rising to prominence today.

I suggest the insignia of the Marine Corps rank of Colonel.

colonel insignia

Please make a correct uniform decision for once, Padres. A legend such as Col. Coleman deserves your best judgement. May they hang a star with the retired numbers as well.

Goodbye, Jerry. You gave us nothing  but good to remember you by.

[RA ROWE]

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Know Your Trade Candidate: Ubaldo Jimenez

weak front side = no ground balls

Picture of Ubaldo Jimenez’ super weak front side courtesy of the Associated Press.

Even with this season’s weak free agent class, there were deals to be found for the rotation in need of an excellent arm. Brandon McCarthy, Dan Haren and Shawn Marcum were probably the best high-upside bargains. While Marcum is still out there, Washington was able to snag Haren on a one-year “prove-it” deal worth $13MM, and McCarthy signed a back-loaded two year pact worth $15.5MM, heading to Arizona. With options dwindling it seems increasingly likely that teams looking to improve for less dough will have to part with more than money by exploring upgrades via trade.

The Candidate

One of the worst players on the block market is Ubaldo Jimenez. Many fans may remember him from his electric first half in 2010. But he is no longer that pitcher. Though just 28 years old, the right-hander’s skills are fading rapidly. In 2012 he was one of just three starters to throw 175 innings or more, and still produce less than .5 WAR.

Click to nerd out on numbers. Stats from Fangraphs.

Click to nerd out on numbers. Stats from Fangraphs.

Heater in Trouble

Ubaldo Jimenez’s average fastaball velocity was the highest among starting pitchers from 2008-2010, peaking at 96 mph. That was in 2009. Last season, his heater clocked a tic below Jeremy Guthrie’s at 92.5 mph. The Major League average was 91.8 mph. In terms of pitch values, Ubaldo’s fastball was 18 runs worse than average last year. What happens when a fireballer loses his fireball?

For Jimenez, it has meant doubling the use of his change-up (18% of the time), and adding a splitter in 2010. He has also relied more heavily on a two seam fastball (its slower avg velocity does not count against that of the four seamers). But the effort to shift away from his most troubled offering has not paid off.

The Deeper Problem

Felix Hernandez was tops with an average fastball velocity of 96 mph in 2007. Last season, his heater averaged 92.4 mph. But Felix hasn’t struggled through his velocity dip. What is different about Jimenez?

Hernandez has great control and terrific secondary stuff. Over time, Ubaldo’s slider has lost depth, and hitters have become more selective against him, while he has become more erratic. In 2008, Jimenez’ slowest pitch was 20 mph behind his fastball. That differential shrunk to 15 mph in 2012. The real setback has been an inability to keep the ball on the ground.

To have your splitter produce groundballs just 35.6% of the time, which Ubaldo accomplished last season, is a special feat on its own. But his fastball and slider each produced ground balls at a rate below 30%, something none of his pitches had done before 2012. The collapse of his GB%, and rising BB/9, along with the fact that hitters no longer have to worry about the steep differential between his pitch velocities, have combined to destroy a pitcher who seemed headed for stardom.

If your team trades for Ubaldo, hope the Indians pay that salary and that you only have to give up a fringe prospect or a spare part to get him. While certainly not disastrous (because of the low projected cost of completing a swap), any deal for Jimenez will be a waste of time.

The Bright Side

Maybe time travel will become commercially available at some point during the 2013 season, and a lucky GM can go grab 25-year old Ubaldo Jimenez, passing him off as the late model for long enough to make a push for the post season. Personally, I’ll be going back for a 19 year old Satchel Paige, but I’m a little old fashioned.

[RA Rowe]

*All amazing stats by amazing Fangraphs

Casey Kelly to Debut

Casey Kelly

Casey Kelly will be the 15th pitcher to start a game for the Padres this season.

Tomorrow night Padres right-hander Casey Kelly will make his Major League debut. He’ll go against Paul Maholm of the Atlanta Braves. It will be a tough assignment, facing a contending club in his first start, but the Padres have a seven game win streak in their sails and have been playing all facets of the game very capably.

He will take over the rotation spot vacated by Jason Marquis, after he became the latest Padres starting pitcher to hit the DL (broken hand). Kelly was traded to San Diego as part of the package of prospects involved in the Adrian Gonzalez trade back in 2010. At the time he was considered the most elite piece headed in the Padres’ direction. We will finally begin to see if it is Kelly or Anthony Rizzo that is most deserving that title now.

The 22 year old has pitched only 31.2 innings this season because of an elbow injury, and nine of those were in rookie ball during his rehab assignment. He showed tremendous stuff in Spring Training this year and then struck out 32 batters in 28.2 IP en route to compiling a WHIP under 1. His rehab innings went smoothly and he looks ready enough to come up to a big club desperate for quality starters.

The young pitching keeps bubbling to the surface for the Padres. If the young arms can stay healthy, we’ll be looking at a rotation that could include:

  • Anthony Bass (25 next year)
  • Cory Luebke (27)
  • Andrew Cashner (26)
  • Joe Weiland (22)
  • Casey Kelly (23)

Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richards will be the old men of the staff at ages 30 and 29, respectively.

[RA ROWE]

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