There's an article in today's Denver Post about the Colorado Rockies trade of Ubaldo Jimenez a year ago to the Cleveland Indians. Columnist Troy Renck makes the pronouncement that there have been no winners yet after this trade occurred. I would argue differently. I believe that simply by trading away Jimenez, the Rockies eliminated a lot of money off the payroll while also getting rid of a negative presence on what would have been a young, impressionable club this season.
Trade Was a Shock When It Happened
I still remember that Saturday afternoon when news first broke that a Jimenez trade was imminent. The Rockies fans that I was with that afternoon thought it was a hoax. Yes, Jimenez was having a down year, but they felt he was still a great pitcher. He had won 19 games in 2010 and should have won the Cy Young that season (if Coors Field is used as an argument to hurt hitters' stats there, it should help the argument of pitchers who actually pitch well there). He had won 27 games over the two years previous to that. He was the Rockies' ace on the staff.
However, I actually thought it was a great idea at the time. Something was clearly wrong with Jimenez in in the first half of the 2011 season. He was 6-9 with 21 starts and a 4.46 ERA when he was traded in the middle of a game against the San Diego Padres on July 30. We know now he was simply upset at the Rockies over the fact that he hadn't received a contract extension when they went out and gave big, lucrative contract extensions to their young stars, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.
A Year Later, Jimenez Still Hasn't Found Form
The Cleveland Indians have paid Jimenez $5.1 million this year alone and the pitcher has given them his worst year ever in the major leagues. He's 9-15 with a club-high 5.58 ERA. Remember, this is a guy who was supposed to be the new ace on the Indians staff. It's highly doubtful that he'd be much better pitching at altitude still in Colorado, either, because it sure looks like his wheels have fallen off.
In that trade, the Rockies received minor league pitchers Drew Pomeranz and Alex White, both first round draft picks by the Indians who were in the first few years of their careers in the minor leagues. The Rockies have kept both of these young guys with their major league club, pushing their development along faster than if they had stayed with the Indians. The biggest reason for that is that the Rockies simply need pitching in a very bad way, especially with all the injuries and poor performance issues in 2011.
White has struggled (2-8 with a 5.38 ERA) as a starter in his first full year as a major league starter, but he has had only 28 starts in his career at this time. Pomeranz has pitched well at times but doesn't have the stats to back that up (1-8 with a 4.93 ERA). Keep in mind that, in Pomeranz's 17 appearances, the Rockies are 5-3 in games in which Pomeranz did not get a decision. Despite the questionable performances this year, both young men have shown flashes of potential. They're being forced into learning their craft at the major leagues instead of in the minors like many young pitchers. Long-term, I'd much rather have the potential of these two guys than the moody, on the backside of his career, Ubaldo Jimenez.
Julie is a featured sports contributor and writes about the Colorado Rockies for the Yahoo Contributor Network. A lifelong baseball fan, she started rooting for the Rockies upon moving to Colorado in 2001.