There is having a sack (edited version) and then there’s having a huge sack.
The Cleveland Indians are the latter.
The guts the Indians showed yesterday in acquiring Ubaldo Jimenez shows that they mean business. This isn’t just a one-time, happy to be here team that is enjoying their success this year after a few years of looking like mush. No, no, no, the Indians are going for it.
Jimenez was the most coveted pitcher of this trade deadline with the Rockies looking to get a huge package in return for a guy that is an ace even with questions about his mechanics and velocity. The Rockies got that and more by receiving super talented righty Alex White and possibly an ace in the making in lefty Drew Pomeranz.
That’s a lot of pitching to give up for one guy, but Jimenez might be worth it.
Jimenez has the talent to be one of the best pitchers in the game as he showed last year by winning 15 games and posting an era near 2 before the All-star break before having an off second half. He’s suffered through an injury plagued year going 6-9 with an ERA around 4, however he has regained some form lately. In his last ten starts he has a 2.58 ERA with 63 strikeouts in 66 innings and his velocity has recovered after he showed a considerable dip in arm strength early in the season.
Scouts were worried that he seemed to lose at least 3mph off of his fast ball when he had arm problems in April and May. However, his fastball has been topping out at 96mph lately, which has him looking like the Cy Young candidate that he was last year. They need him to be that Jimenez with two months left in the season and the Tribe a game and a half behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.
Even if Jimenez isn’t as dominant as he was last year it still shows how eager the Indians are to win and win now.
This deal combined with the deal for Kosuke Fukudome earlier in the week (which was just as huge because the Indians needed some type of positive outfield production) shows that the Indians aren’t happy with just winning a few games.
Their surprise season has them hungry for more than just a few pats on the back and some spots on sportscenter. The Jimenez deal shows their fans just how serious the team is about contending despite the concerns behind Jimenez.
Is he an ace or isn’t he? He is an upgrade in a rotation that desperately needed help outside of Justin Masterson and Josh Tomlin. He is also more of a reward than a risk; his contract is small market friendly as he’s only owed $4 million next season with a few club options that total $14 million over the next two seasons. Even if it doesn’t work out with Jimenez it’s still a very cost effective deal.
But that’s not what the Indians want out of this deal. They want the guy that made scouts drool over him last year with a combination of his big fastball and nasty off speed pitches. They want the guy that could be mentioned in the same breath as Justin Verlander, Josh Johnson and the other young and talented aces in the league.
They made this deal to acquire a pitcher who can carry them down the stretch and be counted on to go the distance when needed. If Jimenez can fulfill those thoughts then giving up two blue chip hurlers will have been more than worth it.
Even if he doesn’t at least the Indians tried. They pulled the trigger on a deal that the Red Sox and Yankees were afraid to make. The big dogs feared about Jimenez’s health and velocity and rather than give up prized possession they passed.
The Indians took a risk on a pitcher that can become one of the best in the game if he is fully healthy. They outbid two of baseball’s behemoths for one of its prized possessions.
They deserve props no matter the result.