Peter Gammons: Huge chip or not, Jimenez signing shows Orioles are determined to succeed

ubaldo jimenez

There remains a great to be determined in the Ubaldo Jimenez signing, $50M and four years’ worth. The Red Sox and Blue Jays say they did not make three year offers, or any offers for that matter. No one knows if a 30 year old pitcher who was 19-30 for three years then posted a 2.41 earned run average with a 9.6/3.7 strikeout/walk ratio from May 27 on last season really is permanently fixed.

Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway rightfully received a lot of credit for regaining balance in Jimenez’s delivery, and now he goes to another superb pitching coach in Dave Wallace. But over his career, Jimenez has had close to ten pitching coaches, and some of them had to be really good.

The rationale in giving up the 17th pick in the June draft was a pair of corner infielders signed out of the Dominican Republic and Mexico. The Dominican third baseman was so lightly regarded that he went unsigned last July 2nd, with no serious interest, and international scouting directors did not consider the Mexican first baseman a prospect.

Fine. But not the point. The point is that nearly the entire Oriole team was on the field Tuesday the day before the entire team was due in camp. With Nick Markakis off a healthy winter for the first time and up 15-20 pounds and Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Manny Machado, Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy, et al, the Orioles can be a legitimate contender. They have a core of players who play their behinds off, who love and respect the game, and because Davis, Wieters and Hardy are all free agents after 2015, their window is two years.

Two years, in a ballpark that changed sports, in a great, traditional baseball town, with a terrific local television deal…This is a city that deserves every effort to win one of these two years. Peter Angelos is a Baltimorian, he feels it, and he now is apparently willing to do what he did yesterday—spend—to return Camden Yards to those great moments in 1995 when Cal Ripken was playing a major part in bring baseball back from The Strike.

Tampa is the baseball people’s team to beat. The Red Sox are really good. The Yankees can be, as well. Toronto is a lot better than 2013. Why not the Orioles? The way Chris Tillman reported to camp, bigger and leaner, makes one think he might jump into an elite class. Gausman can be really good from June on.

It’s time to go for it. It’s time for Adam Jones to join Torii Hunter, Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw and Andrew McCutchen as the faces of the sport.

Why worry about Chris Davis replacing David Ortiz in 2016, or Wieters moving on. Win in 2014-2015, and the franchise of the Nineties can be back, good for Baltimore, good for the game. Jimenez may or may not be a huge chip in bringing the back in Orioles, but as we enter the spring of hopes and dreams, it returns both the hopes and dreams to a city that once was a crown jewel of baseball.