Cleveland Indians: Should the Indians Keep Ubaldo Jimenez?

Evan VogelContributor IIISeptember 12, 2012

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 31: Starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez #30 of the Cleveland Indians pitches to Ian Kinsler #5 of the Texas Rangers during the first inning at Progressive on August 31, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

On July 30, 2011, Cleveland Indians management and ownership "went for it" by dealing four players (Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Matt McBride and Joseph Gardner) to the Colorado Rockies for right-handed starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. At that moment, Indians fans were excited, posting to message boards such fine exclamations as: "The Tribe have the starting pitching now to compete," "not sure if they'll pull together this year, but this should be a sign of good things to come for the future," and, my favorite "the Indians getting Ubaldo shows they are a serious contender."

From the time the Indians traded for Jimenez until the end of the season, the Tribe went 27-31, going from 1.5 games out on July 31 to 15 games back after losing to the Detroit Tigers in the final game of the season. Needless to say, Ubaldo Jimenez did not help the Cleveland Indians compete and he certainly has not helped the club be a contender, while many fans now worry about the future. They have good reason to worry, as management dealt four young prospects in return for what has turned out to be a dud.

Ubaldo Jimenez is 13-20 with a 5.40 ERA over 40 starts with the Indians. His 16 losses so far in 2012 lead the league. Jimenez has 18 quality starts since joining the Tribe, just 45 percent of his starts.

Jimenez is now 23-36 in 76 starts with a 5.08 ERA over 354.2 innings since the All-Star break in 2010. In the first half of 2010, Jimenez was 15-1 with a 2.20 ERA. Things clearly haven't been the same since then.

Currently 9-16 with a 5.52 ERA for the Indians in 2012, is it wrong to question whether the Indians should pick up the option on Jimenez for 2013?

Jimenez is due $5.75 million in 2013 or a $1 million buyout. The Indians could certainly do worse than paying Jimenez that amount (see Derek Lowe's 2012 output for $5 million). You also can wonder whether Jimenez will return to pre-All-Star-break-of-2010 form in 2013, when he will still be just 29 years old.

Needless to say, dealing four players on a team which clearly needs to start over again for a single player who has not produced, has been an awful deal for Indians G.M. Chris Antonetti. Maybe he deserves the benefit of the doubt, hoping Jimenez would return to form on a team that was contending at the time. Maybe he should have seen the warning signs that many other teams saw from the 10-16 record and 4.18 ERA over 217.2 innings in 36 starts after the 2010 All Star game prior to being traded to Cleveland.

So, is Jimenez worth $5.75 million in 2013? Is he worth the $8 million option for 2014? Would anyone even give the club solid prospects in return for Jimenez if they were to pick up the option and trade him? Should they just give him $1 million to walk away and start the rebuilding process right away?