The Cleveland Indians have surprisingly made the biggest splash of this year's MLB trade deadline. It was tough to say whether they were going to pull off a trade or stick with what they have, but clearly they have shown that they would rather win now by trading for Ubaldo Jimenez.
The Indians acquire Jimenez in exchange for pitchers Alex White, Drew Pomeranz, Joseph Gardner and first baseman Matt McBride. As an Indians fan, I'm not used to being on this side of the trade market, but it was exciting to see the trade go down.
Having said that though, this was not the trade the Indians should have made if they're that focused on winning. It's a mistake that could cause trouble, and here's why.
The Indians traded four prospects to acquire Jimenez. Usually in trades with big players, you see a big name, a big upside player and a couple others. Instead, the Indians gave away two big farm names—Drew Pomeranz and Alex White.
Pomeranz was dominant at Class-A Kinston and has been good at Double-A Akron so far, while White was doing very well in the starting rotation this year before his injury. Both have ace potential, and they will definitely be major league starters even in Coors Field.
Trading two good pitchers for one doesn't seem to work no matter how good Jimenez may be, which brings me to point two.
Facts are facts: Ubaldo is 6-9 with a 4.46 ERA this year—a far cry from his great year in 2010 and the worst ERA of his career. It's a lot to give up for a pitcher that has had his struggles this year.
People will immediately jump on the fact that his road ERA is far better than his home ERA, and while that is definitely true and makes him appear more valuable, you can't blame Coors Field for everything; the fact of the matter is that he's lost his touch this year.
The main issue I have with acquiring Ubaldo is that he tends to be streaky. If it's a couple games here and there, then that would be fine, but here's his statlines the past two seasons:
2010,April-June: 14-1/1.83/102. 2010, July-September: 5-7/3.98/112
2011, April-May: 0-5/5.86/45. 2011, June-July: 6-4/3.03/71
That's quite a bit of jumping in only two seasons, and it wouldn't bother me so much if not for his contract.
When he's on, he's definitely dominant, but it would be easier if that was more consistent.
This trade is very much unlike that, as Ubaldo's contract goes through next year, yet there are team options. I like the contract in and of itself, but the message becomes muddled.
Is this a win-now trade, or someone who can help the pitchers grow so the Tribe can win next year?
I'm honestly not sure.
The problem with the Indians pitching rotation was not that it was young or lacked leadership.
Yes, that is a weakness, but White, Jeanmar Gomez and others have showed great promise. The problem is that the veterans who have great "stuff" just are not producing, and by veterans, I pretty much mean Fausto Carmona.
Mitch Talbot appears to be a one-season wonder, as he's been bad this season, and Carmona has exhausted the patience of everyone at this point. He can't seem to hit the plate and win games.
The starting rotation is a weak spot right now, but unless Jimenez can magically make Carmona better, other problems remain. On the plus side, he can take over for Talbot.
Admittedly, the further I got in this slideshow, the more I realized that perhaps this trade isn't so bad.
Yes, Carmona is still pitching terribly, Jimenez may shut off at a bad time, and the first draft picks that have been intelligently made in 10-plus years are gone, but is it a bad trade?
Perhaps not. After all, the Tribe needed an ace sooner rather than later, and Carmona is clearly not the answer. Justin Masterson will fit a lot better in a number two role alongside Jimenez, so that could give them a solid rotation.
We are not going to know how good this trade will be for a while. Perhaps Jimenez is the missing piece Cleveland never realized it needed. Perhaps, Alex White and Drew Pomeranz will be the one-two punch that got away.
All Indians fans can do now is just enjoy watching Jimenez pitch and hope that he is as good as advertised, and hopefully, my doubts about this trade are dashed soon enough.