Hartnett: Hiroki Kuroda Better Fit For Yankees Than Ubaldo Jimenez

‘Hart of the Order’
By Sean Hartnett
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It’ll take a king’s ransom for any club to pry Ubaldo Jimenez from the Colorado Rockies.  Jimenez is set to earn $4.2M in 2012 and his contract includes two affordable club options in 2013 and 2014.  The Rockies hold all the cards when it comes to dealing their ace.  If a suitable offer doesn’t present itself, they can dangle him during the winter meetings or next trade deadline.

The Yankees or any club for that matter shouldn’t take the bait if Colorado demands two or more top prospects for Jimenez.  He surrendered five earned runs in five innings pitched in his last start and hasn’t been near his usual greatness in 2011.  After finishing third in last season’s Cy Young voting, Jimenez’s numbers this year have become bloated with a 4.20 ERA and batting average against raised 40 points.

There are other talented starters available and Hiroki Kuroda would be an ideal fit for the Yankees if they can convince him to move east.  He is said to be hesitant to leave the Dodgers and has a full no-trade clause.  A bevy of teams are reportedly targeting Kuroda and he’ll be able to dictate where he is moved but two teams that offer the best chance of a World Series ring: the Yankees and Red Sox are located on the opposite coast.

If the Yankees can work out a deal with the Dodgers, Kuroda would make a seamless addition to their rotation.  His 2011 ERA of 3.11 is a career best but his 13 losses are a NL worst as he suffers from weak run support and could do with powerful Yankee bats behind him.  Since his debut season in major leagues, he has been a consistent starter who also possesses the moxie needed to perform in the playoffs.  His disastrous 2009 ALCS start against the Phillies aside, Kuroda is as steady as they come.

If Kuroda somehow turns out to be a bad fit, the Yankees can simply walk away at season’s end as the 36-year old will become a free agent.  Other starters on Brian Cashman’s radar are Erik Bedard and Jeremy Guthrie.  Speculation is intensifying that the Red Sox will make a play for Bedard and rival Orioles owner Peter Angelos will prefer to keep Guthrie from the Yankees.

Kuroda simply makes the most sense for the Yankees out all trade block starters.  It’s a high reward, low risk proposition for Cashman as he wouldn’t have to part with a group of prospects equal to a deal involving Jimenez.  All Cashman has to do is meet the Dodgers’ asking price, pick up his remaining contract and he’ll likely be supplying Joe Girardi with a dependable playoff starter.

Which available starter do you believe makes the best fit for the Yankees?  Share your opinions below and send your tweets to @HartyLFC.

  • rskelley

    I think Kuroda would be a better fit for the Yankees because Cashman hates to spend on trades. However, he’s has no mound presence, he pitches in a pitcher’s park and he lacks the stuff to blow away playoff batters. Ubaldo may come at a higher price (in terms of prospects) but he’s a second-half pitcher who’s spent his career in an extremely unfriendly environment for righthanded pitchers and he’s got the overpowering stuff to succeed against skilled hitters.

    If it were up to me, I’d avoid giving up Montero and Banuelos and hand over a deep bag of prospects headed by Gary Sanchez and/or Austin Romine, Dellin Betances, Ivan Nova and/or Phil Hughes and Brandon Laird. Montero will fill their Prince Fielder fix in the near future while Banuelos finally gives them a knock-out lefty. Hughes is an NL pitcher–let’s face it– and I can’t see any club turning down a package that includes either Hughes or Nova, Dellin Betances, Gary Sanchez or Austin Romine and Brandon Laird.

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