Early on Saturday evening, reports circulated that Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) had been scratched from his scheduled start, so it appeared that a trade was about to go down. Then Thomas Harding of MLB.com did some digging to confirm that a collection of very good Cleveland prospects had also been scratched from their minor league appearances, so we had a few names to attach to the rumor.
The deal was done, it seemed. Jimenez to the Tribe.
But then Ubaldo was somehow un-scratched from his scheduled start against the Padres. You don't see that too often. New rumors circulated. The Red Sox were attempting to swing a deal, according to Gordon Edes.
Jimenez eventually took the mound for the Colorado on Saturday night. He was a mess in the first inning, allowing two hits, four walks and four runs, needing 45 pitches to escape the frame. The Rockies actually had Esmil Rogers(notes) warming up before Ubaldo had even thrown a pitch, clearly expecting a deal to be finalized. Seems a bit reckless to allow a trade chip like Jimenez to start under those circumstances, but that's not my call.
Finally, at the conclusion of his awful first inning, Jimenez was greeted on the dugout steps by well-wishing coaches and soon-to-be ex-teammates, his career in Colorado clearly over.
The deal is reportedly this: Jimenez heads to Cleveland in exchange for pitching prospects Drew Pomeranz, Alex White(notes) and Joe Gardner, plus first baseman/outfielder Matt McBride. For now, Pomeranz is a PTBNL in the deal, but he'll be officially named in mid-August. Jimenez still needs to pass a physical before the trade is complete.
The Indians are giving up two highly regarded young pitchers in this thing, as Pomeranz is considered the best lefty in their system and White the best righty. Shame those guys are moving to thinner air and a rougher ballpark. Gardner ranked as the No. 9 prospect in Cleveland's system in Baseball America's preseason review, so he's not exactly hopeless, either. (BA ranked Pomeranz at No. 4, White No. 2). McBride seems like a throw-in here, although he was hitting .297/359/.535 with 14 homers at Double-A. This deal is really a killer for the Akron Aeros, as all the kids moving to Colorado were on the same Eastern League roster. (White was there to rehab a finger injury). Pomeranz recently made the jump to Double-A; he's posted a 1.98 ERA across two levels this season, with 112 Ks in 91.0 IP.
As for Ubaldo...
Mixed league owners really can't be too upset with this move. Jimenez is leaving an unfriendly home park where he'd struggled this season (5.55 ERA, 1.67 WHIP at Coors). Plus he managed to dodge the A.L. East. That's a small win. The big ongoing worry with Jimenez is, of course, his drop in velocity. His fastball has lost nearly three full ticks from 2010 to 2011 (96.1 mph to 93.4), and he had nothin' on his pitches on Saturday. You should give him a mulligan on that start, though. He was understandably distracted.
Prior to Saturday, Ubaldo had given his owners two very good months, striking out 71 batters over 71.1 innings since June 1 while posting a 1.21 WHIP. He also has at least eight Ks in four of his last five outings; the fantasy stats have been OK recently, even if the radar readings have been ordinary. The schedule is brutal for the Tribe next week (at Boston, at Texas), so it's entirely possible that Jimenez's A.L. debut won't be a gem. The degree-of-difficulty drops later in August, however, as Cleveland gets a 13-game stretch against Seattle, Kansas City and Oakland.
This was an astonishingly aggressive move by the Indians, who trail the Tigers by 1.5 games in the Central. They've paid a huge price in terms of prospects, but Jimenez is under team control through 2013, so it's not as if this is a two-month rental.
If you have a complaint about any of this — perhaps regarding Ubaldo's one-inning bed-wetting on Saturday — please file it in comments...
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