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Indians go all in with Ubaldo Jimenez acquisition

Jul 30, 2011, 9:40 PM EDT

Ubaldo Jimenez Getty Images

After selling off CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee in recent years, the Indians actually went out and got an ace this time, trading LHP Drew Pomeranz, RHP Alex White, 1B Matt McBride and RHP Joe Gardner for Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez.

The deal certainly carries some risk.  Jimenez was the game’s best pitcher during the first half of last season, but including tonight’s bizarre one-inning cameo, he’s 10-16 with a 4.18 ERA since.  It’s not all bad: he entered Saturday with a 116/47 K/BB ratio and a modest 10 homers allowed in 122 innings this season.  But the drop in his velocity is scary.  His fastball, which was as potent as any starting pitcher’s in the league last season, is down about 3 mph this year.

And in return for Jimenez’s services through 2013, the Indians are giving up the two best pitching prospects they’ve developed in years.  Pomeranz, the fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft, had a 1.98 ERA and a 112/38 K/BB ratio in 91 innings between high-A Kinston and Double-A Akron this season.  He has definite No. 2 starter potential with his low-90s fastball and hard curve.

White, the 15th overall selection in 2009, had a 1.90 ERA and a 28/5 K/BB ratio in 23 2/3 innings for Triple-A Columbus and a 3.60 ERA in three starts for the Indians before going down with a finger injury.  He’s healthy again now, but the Indians were planning on letting him spend the rest of the season as a reliever rather than try to stretch him back out as a starter.  His ceiling isn’t much lower than Pomeranz’s, though he probably is the weaker bet to stay healthy.

McBride is the third known prospect in the deal, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if the PTBN turns out to be a superior property.  McBride hit .297/.359/.535 in Double-A this season, but he’s already 26 years old.  While he might serve as a stopgap if Todd Helton gets hurt next year, he shouldn’t ever be a candidate to supplant the potential Hall of Famer.

What should make the Indians especially nervous is that the Rockies traded Jimenez even though he had more value to them than to any other team.  His 2014 contract option at the bargain rate of $8 million can be voided by Jimenez now that he has been traded.  So, while the Rockies had him at $18 million for 2012-14, the Indians will get him for $10 million for 2012-2013.

It’s nice to see the Indians rewarding their fans by making every effort to take what appears to be a very winnable AL Central.  They had already acquired Kosuke Fukudome, and all indications are that Ryan Ludwick will be acquired Sunday.  Still, this has the potential to really come back and bite them.  In general, even the best pitching prospects are no more than 50-50 bets to go on to fine major league careers.  But if Jimenez’s velocity dips further, the Indians may be wishing they had their two big-time arms back by the middle of next season.

  1. derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 9:45 PM

    not only did the Sox and Yankees badly want him, but how badly do you think he wanted to go to one of those powerhouses? instead he gets traded to a flash-in-the-pan team that has been steadily faltering since its hot start and will miss the playoffs this year and beyond. lucky him, he gets stuck in that sinkhole of an organization (if they were actually run like they were in Major League things couldn’t possibly be worse) for this year and probably 2 more. gotta feel sorry for him

    • Chris Fiorentino - Jul 30, 2011 at 9:58 PM

      If they truly do suck next year, and he pitches like he is capable of pitching, the Yankees and Red Sox will be knocking next July don’t worry about that.

    • Ari Collins - Jul 30, 2011 at 10:00 PM

      Tell us what you really think about the Indians. Don’t hold back.

      • derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 10:02 PM

        Chris, my thoughts exactly. but I know Ari the all-knowing disagrees

    • ispysomething7 - Jul 30, 2011 at 10:07 PM

      Huh???

    • takemytalentstosoutheuclid - Jul 31, 2011 at 10:04 AM

      Sinkhole of an organization? The Indians have produced 2 Cy Young winners in the past 5 years, were within 1 game of advancing to the World Series in 2007 where they would have, as many have said, crushed your Rockies just like the Sox did, They have spent the majority of this year in first place, and have not been below .500 all year outside of the first week of the season. You should be feeling sorry for the Rockies. Your GM is throwing in the towel, and with the disappointments suffered by the other franchises in town (Melo and Billups traded away, oh, and let’s not forget the brilliant trade of Peyton Hillis and a draft pick for Brady Quinn) Denver fan must really be in a severe state of depression over their sinkhole of an organization in all 3 major sports.

      • philriverslovespenis - Jul 31, 2011 at 12:49 PM

        I am in no way condoning the comments derp made, & I do not agree with him, but are you seriously going to bring the Nuggets & Broncos into this argument when you have the Cavs & Browns? The Cavs greatest achievement since I (and probably you too) have been alive was the Mavs beating the Heat in the finals this year. The Browns are more well known for their failures than successes (The Drive, The Fumble-oh yeah, to none other than the DENVER BRONCOS). You might want to think a little bit before you go popping off yourself. That being said, I really like the direction the Browns are headed in (I personally think they should’ve kept Mangini), but the Cavs have a ways to go. In closing, I’d just like to say good luck to your Browns, your welcome for Peyton Hillis (if I ever see Josh McDipsh*t in person, it’ll be worth the jail time to punch him as hard as I can), and I hate LeBron James for what he did to your city/state.

  2. dixon29 - Jul 30, 2011 at 9:56 PM

    derp,

    What you just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that can be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points and may God have mercy on your soul. (Billy Madison).

    7 Division Championships, 2 A.L. Pennants in the last 16 years, even in the movie Major League that you referred to the Indians won the division. Thanks for playing.

    • derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 10:01 PM

      22-36 since starting 30-15 sounds like a flash in the pan to me, but thanks for ripping into me without offering any thoughts on what was wrong with my statement. you think Ubaldo wants to take the ball for a team with 3 batters hitting over .250 or for a team that can put runs on the board?

      Im well aware they win the division in that movie and that’s why it is a movie. my guess is a team actually run like that would not do to well, but that’s just my opinion……..

      • Ari Collins - Jul 30, 2011 at 10:12 PM

        Sure, they’re not a great team this year, but they’re 2 GB in a division without any really good teams, and this trade makes them significantly better. I’m not sure how they’re a sinkhole of an organization. Or how you can be sure they’ll miss the playoffs this year. And I have no idea how you can be sure they’ll miss the playoffs next year.

        If he cares about making the playoffs, he’s probably pretty happy to be traded from a team that stood no chance this year to a team that’s got a good chance.

        I’m a Sox fan too, and I’m disappointed Boston didn’t get him. But you sound like you’re really really bitter about it, and that’s leading you to trash a team that’s got a good shot at the playoffs and an organization that’s had plenty of past success.

      • derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 10:18 PM

        ok, perhaps sinkhole was a bit much, but Im not sure how many teams would want to be run by their front office. let’s call them average at best. however, Im not sure what you’ve seen of late that indicates Cleveland is going to the playoffs. they’ve been faltering since their hot start and like I said the offense is more of a concern than the pitching. I say they won’t make the playoffs this year because most of their overachieving players are falling back to earth and the addition of Jimenez doesn’t change that. if their roster is no different next season then I see very little to indicate they are poised to make the playoffs. Im sure most baseball fans without bias would look at the group they have and come to a similar conclusion

      • Ari Collins - Jul 30, 2011 at 10:24 PM

        Well, I don’t think I’m biased. I’m a Sox fan. But the fact that their offense has been poor doesn’t mean their pitching couldn’t use a #2. He’s a huge upgrade. He’ll probably add a couple wins over the rest of the season, and they’re now only 1.5 games bak.

        I’m not saying they’re a great team. But when you find yourself surprised to be in a playoff race in late July with a mediocre roster, you might as well go for it. Especially when you’re behind a team with a mediocre roster themselves. And you’re not giving up the future; in fact, you’re adding to it.

      • derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 10:28 PM

        I guess at this point all we can do is wait and see how it plays out. if Jimenez plays to his potential the Central should be an interesting race to watch. I still think he won’t play out his contract there though

      • derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 10:31 PM

        however, in a 4-for-1 deal it’s hard to say they’re not giving up the future

      • FC - Jul 30, 2011 at 10:40 PM

        The Indians objective is likely to just to make the Playoffs, excite the fan base and see if that doesn’t translate into some more dough for the next couple of years. Maybe get more pieces. If they do get Ludwick they are addressing some of their offensive issues (whether successfully is another matter entirely)

      • 1943mrmojorsin1971 - Jul 30, 2011 at 11:05 PM

        The question isn’t whether or not Jimenez will help the Tribe but can he help them enough to get back on track and make a playoff push?

  3. Ari Collins - Jul 30, 2011 at 10:03 PM

    I wouldn’t characterize this as “all-in” considering he’ll anchor their rotation through 2013.

  4. hbdbrowns33 - Jul 30, 2011 at 10:07 PM

    Matt LaPorta just hit a 3 run walk off so ROLL DAMN TRIBE

    • ispysomething7 - Jul 30, 2011 at 10:09 PM

      Onions!

  5. mikeinthevine - Jul 30, 2011 at 11:31 PM

    They mortgaged the future to win this year. Unfortunately, this team is more pretender than contender. Without a bat, this trade’s a non-starter.This is coming from a tribe fan.

    • tolbuck - Jul 31, 2011 at 12:10 PM

      How did they mortgage the future? Jimenez is under contract for another 2 1/2 years. White and Pomeranz have proven nothing. Not to mention the organization’s depth is pitching. The Tribe has enough arms in the system to handle trading away a couple of prospects.

  6. polegojim - Jul 31, 2011 at 12:08 AM

    Mr. O’Dowd – time to make something of all this rebuilding. Seriously.

  7. pisano - Jul 31, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    1943mrmojorsin1971…. I agree, also love the screen name, Jim would be proud.

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