The Colorado Rockies' Ubaldo Jimenez had the most impressive season for any Rockies starter in the franchise's history. He finished third in the NL Cy Young voting, was an All-Star and flirted with 20 wins before finishing with 19 on the season. He was a 7.1 WAR player according to Baseball Reference in 2010, best among all starting pitchers. The future is prime for an Ubaldo-domination, right?
Not so fast, if you read Rob Neyer's candidates for top starting pitchers over the next decade. Neyer cites Jimenez's home runs per nine innings (0.48) as one reason he should be considered, but then turns around to Tim Lincecum, whose HR/9 is slightly higher than Jimenez's. He writes glowingly of Lincecum for several paragraphs, but then Neyer makes another turn and believes the Seattle Mariners' Felix Hernandez will be the top starter over the next decade.
But arm issues can always arise at a moment's notice. Jut earlier today, news broke that Adam Wainwright needs his pitching elbow examined and could wind up having Tommy John surgery.
So when Jimenez and his agent sit down with the Rockies this offseason to discuss a contract extension, the Rockies will need to think carefully about how well Jimenez's arm will hold up. Jimenez signed a four-year, $10 million in 2009 with a total of $13.75 million in two options years. It was a nice bargain for the Rockies, but now Jimenez will want to hit his payday.