Burning Fantasy Baseball Questions: Cleveland Indians
What happened to Ubaldo Jimenez?
Basically, the coils in his heater were unable to reach max temp. The right-hander's average four-seam velocity lived in the mid-90s in seasons prior, but in 2011, it dipped below 94 mph. He didn't seem to have as good a feel for it, and speculation abounded as to the reasons why.
You might say that an average fastball velocity at 93-something still ain't too shabby, and that's true. But when you're used to working with a premium brush and it loses a few bristles, it affects your strokes. And sometimes even confidence in your strokes, especially because your changeup becomes less effective, and particularly when your slider also loses some bite.
Jimenez's two-seamer was unusually hard and effective in 2010, but it lost a bit of steam last year, too. His use of it and the results suggest that it still wasn't a pitch he could feature consistently.
Jimenez, 28 in January, has always had a problem with walks, but because he can strike out so many and keep batted balls on the ground, he can achieve above-average or even elite results. The latter skill may not help him in Cleveland as much as it did with the Colorado Rockies, but his ability to record the punch-out didn't desert him.
The foundation of a very good pitcher is still in there. Cleveland believes that much of the problem lies in the consistency of his mechanics, particularly in his lower half, according to a report. The Tribe has had him focus on those concerns in limited winter-ball innings. In only 2 1/3 innings thus far, the results haven't been good, but the results aren't the concern.
Roto owners interested in Jimenez must bid with a certain amount of faith: Some semblance of a bounce-back is in order. Early indications are that the crowd isn't eager to test that, however. This knowledge, plus the possibility of a nice payoff, should make you willing to take the plunge.
What is there to make of Grady Sizemore?
This story sounds kind of familiar: Entering last season, most fantasy baseball owners had pretty much given up on an outfielder. He'd gone through two seasons in which serious knee problems affected his ability and availability. He was close to being an afterthought in mixed leagues.
But the thing was, Carlos Beltran learned how to manage his right knee by the tail end of 2010. He spent the offseason strengthening the areas around it. All that going under the knife and pain had taken a heavy toll on the outfielder with an injury-prone rep and a history of problems with both knees, and it took awhile to recover, with no certainty that it would.
There are no guarantees that Sizemore is out of the woods. His 2009 elbow surgery and sports hernia are ancient history. He's a year and a half removed from microfracture surgery on his right knee. Last year, he again had problems with the knee, but they weren't considered related or serious, and he had a second sports hernia surgery. In 2012, though, he'll actually enter ST in good health, and with a semblance of an offseason.
Sizemore, 29, signed a one-year, $5 million deal to remain in Cleveland and attempt to boost his free-agent appeal after 2012. He can earn an additional $4 million in incentives. He bet on himself. In order for an investment to pay off, all he has to do is play. Think about that.
In mixed leagues, rotisserie players can get him for practically nothing. In AL leagues, few people will be willing to throw serious bucks at him. Sizemore's ticket comes with long odds, but he may be a better bet than he appears, and that kind of wager can pay pretty well.
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570. Follow @NicholasMinnix
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