Of the many headlines of the 2011 baseball season, the story of Ubaldo Jimenez is one of the most surprising.
His 2010 campaign was incredible—he finished third in the National League Cy Young vote. All signs pointed to another great season in 2011.
The signs pointed the wrong way.
Jimenez got off to a disastrous start, boasting an 0-5 record through May. His ERA was above 7.00 at times during the first two months of the season.
Since then, he's begun to bounce back—his record stands at 5-8 after holding Milwaukee to two runs on Thursday. His ERA is at 4.08, higher than we are used to from Ubaldo, but given his start to the season, respectable.
Given the ups and downs of the season, the Rockie ace has had his name circulating in trade rumors, and now that he seems to have fixed the kinks in his pitching, his value is rising again.
The Rockies are in third place in the NL West, and at the time of this writing, are 8.5 games behind the first place Giants. They trail the Braves by an even 10 games in the wild card.
For all intents and purposes, Colorado will not be playing postseason ball, which could justify shipping Ubaldo to a contender.
The jury is still out on whether or not Jimenez is really on the block. According to ESPN's Buster Olney, one evaluator said, "It has to be something that makes sense for the Rockies [right now]." This evaluator put the odds of Ubaldo wearing a new uni at 25 percent.
Meanwhile, another evaluator told Olney, "My guess is it's more trolling than intent on moving."
I don't know what's more surprising, the notion of Jimenez being traded, or a professional baseball team being called a troll.
With the rumors circulating, some teams have been rumored to be interested in Jimenez, most notably the New York Yankees.
SI.com's Jon Heyman tweeted that the Rockies have interest in Yankee minor league catcher Jesus Montero, while also saying that minor leaguers Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, as well as pitcher Ivan Nova, are off the table.
Heyman also informed us via Twitter that the Rockies have "probably" spoken to the Red Sox, Tigers, Reds and others about Jimenez.
Teams are interested. The Rockies have had talks with the Yankees. But will Ubaldo be pitching away from Coors Field for the rest of the season?
Colorado does not necessarily need to surrender Ubaldo to the highest bidder before the deadline. They might decide to hold on to him until the winter meetings, where more teams will be throwing money their way for the 27-year-old's services.
A lot of contenders need pitching down the stretch, and Jimenez is a premier starter. He could benefit any team he ends up with, whether before the July 31st deadline or after the 2011 World Series Champions are crowned.
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