2011 MLB Trade Deadline: Why Ubaldo Jimenez May Be the Steal of the Deadline

Asher ChanceySenior Analyst IJuly 28, 2011

PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 24:  Starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez #38 of the Colorado Rockies pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on July 24, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Diamondbacks defeated the Rockies 7-0.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Gather 'round, kiddies, whilst I blather on about my favorite topic:

The Blindness of Conventional Wisdom.

You see, kiddies, it seems a while back the Conventional Wisdom got wind of a story out of Denver, Colorado, that the Colorado Rockies Major League Baseball club had taken to a new and amazing procedure for remedying what has heretofore been known as the Mile High Problem.

And now, it does not have to do with getting two people into an airplane bathroom without drawing the stewardess' attention.

The Mile High Problem, of course, pertains to the impact that Denver's elevation has upon a batted baseball: it (the air) tends to make it (the ball) take off. Like a rocket. Or even a missile.

Over the years, the Mile High Problem has led to some hilarious consequences. Like, for example, Dante Bichette hitting 31 home runs at home but only nine on the road in 1995. Or Todd Helton hitting .391 at home and .324 on the road in 2003.

But, a few years ago the Powers That Be in the Rockies' front office came up with an ingenious plan to store baseballs in a giant humidor prior to game time. This would keep the balls from drying out, and make them less likely to fly out of the park off of a Neifi Perez check-swing. And you know what?  

It worked. For a while.

Things seemed to even out pretty well for the Rockies under the humidor experiment, and for the first time in their brief history the team experienced sustained success in the form of its exciting run to the 2007 World Series, where they succumbed to the mighty Boston Red Sox.

And that, kiddies, according to the Conventional Wisdom, is the end of the story. The humidor has saved baseball in Colorado, and there is no longer any reason to take the Mile High Problem into consideration when judging baseball in Denver.

But we know better, don't we kiddies? We know about the Blindness of Conventional Wisdom.

For example, we know that in 2011, the Rockies are hitting .279 with an .803 OPS as a team at home, while hitting just .230 with a .659 OPS on the road. The Rockies have also scored 288 runs in 52 home games in 2011, but just 176 runs in 52 road games.

The Rockies, it would seem, are once against hitting the easy missiles out of Coors Field.

The individual home/road splits for Colorado's hitters have been even more staggering.

Take, for example, Carlos Gonzalez. At home, CarGo has 10 home runs, 38 RBI and a .333 average to go with a .984 OPS. An All-Star and even maybe an MVP candidate at home, Gonzalez's road numbers are shocking: .231 average, .669 OPS, five home runs, 18 RBI.

Catcher Chris Iannetta, who appears in all respects to be having a breakout season, is a dandy at home, hitting .289 with a .987 OPS and seven home runs in 40 games. On the road, though, he is hitting a mere .150 with a shoot-me-in-the-head .566 OPS.


Which brings us to Ubaldo Jimenez.

In 2010, Jimenez showed us, for most of the season, that he is one of the elite young pitchers in all of baseball. Jimenez started the season on a 15-1 rip through his first 18 starts, during which he posted a 2.20 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .198 batting average while striking out 113 batters in 127 innings.

Jimenez's last 15 starts were not as successful as his first 18, but he still finished the season with a very respectable 19-8 record and 2.88 ERA. It was distantly the best pitching season in Rockies history.

If you have been paying attention to the Conventional Wisdom, then it is no secret to you that Jimenez has struggled in 2011, and he is currently sitting on a 6-9 record with a 4.20 ERA through 20 starts for a Rockies team that has faltered after an exciting finish in 2010. Indeed, the fates of the Rockies and of Jimenez have put Colorado in the position of a seller as we approach the trade deadline, and have potentially put Jimenez on the trading block.

According to MLBTradeRumors.com, there are currently no less than five teams interested in Jimenez, including the Yankees, Reds, Red Sox, Indians and potentially one or two other unnamed National League teams.

At this point, the Rockies are said to be highly motivated sellers, to which we must ask:

Is this a joke?

You see, kiddies, the Rockies' hitters are not the only players on the Rockies roster to have suddenly become impacted by the apparently lack of humidity in the Colorado game-balls.

Get a load of these numbers:

Jimenez at home: 3-5, 5.55 ERA, 51 strikeouts and 78 hits in 61.2 innings.

Jimenez on the road: 3-4, 2.83 ERA, 65 strikeouts and 38 hits in 60.1 innings.

These numbers are preposterous, and they demonstrate pretty conclusively that the problem with Ubaldo Jimenez in 2011 is not Ubaldo Jimenez. It is Coors Field, or more specifically, the Coors Field game balls.

When you throw in the fact that Jimenez is signed through 2012 for approximately $2.5 million per year, with team options for 2013 and 2014, he is an incredibly valuable commodity, and even if Colorado gets exactly what they want, the team that acquires Jimenez will be underpaying for his services.

And that is why, kiddies, Ubaldo Jimenez will be the steal of the 2011 Major League Baseball trade deadline, not just in 2011 but for years to come.

You heard it here first.


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