WIll Ubaldo Jimenez' Struggles Motivate Jhoulys Chacin?

ed. In light of the interesting commentary on Jhoulys Chacin from Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd, we reached out to Venezuelan beat writer Rafael Rojas Cremonesi for some input on the situation. Rafael graciously obliged, and has contributed the following look at Chacin.

Rafael is formerly of Viva Colorado and currently writes for the Venezuelan newspaper Meridiano.

A promising Rockies pitcher spends his offseason in a far away place. He gets to enjoy the sights; then goes and visits his family and his native country. When he reports to Arizona, question marks start to appear. Is he in good shape? Did he work out enough during the offseason? Or did he really enjoy his time off just a little bit too much?

That's what many fans are reasonably wondering after statements made by General Manager Dan O'Dowd about righty Jhoulys Chacin in an interview with The Denver Post's Troy Renck.

O'Dowd is upset by the way Chacin handled his offseason schedule, and the fact that Chacin needs to lose weight. The Venezuela native is presumably weighing 226 pounds; one year ago, he reported to Scottsdale at 218 pounds.

This panorama might look terribly familiar, even moreso in an offseason that has seen so many members of the 2011 club traded away to other teams or simply unsigned and released to free agency. Dan O'Dowd has a plan that could resonate inside of the proper clubhouse culture, and as such, has questioned the character of many of his more unsuccessful players, resulting in so many moves. Not just the moves of this offseason though, but also at the trade deadline, when Ace Ubaldo Jimenez was moved..

Assembling the puzzle of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade looks eerily familiar. The Dominican hurler, after winning 19 games in 2010 went on a two-week voyage to Europe. He visited the Eiffel Tower and met with Pope Benedict XVI at The Vatican. After a contrasting 6-9 record, he was shipped to the Indians for Drew Pomeranz and Alex White. There was plenty of talk about Jimenez, questioning his commitment to baseball during the winter. It sounded shocking in the first place, especially after so many articles and footage dedicated to his remarkable work ethic and character.

No one is questioning if Chacin will be in shape when pitchers and catchers report to Salt River Fields on February 19. And no one did when Jimenez did the same last year. But in a year in which the Rockies are showing all the signs of an organization in transition, and the not-too-subtle message is that no man is safe from being on the trading block is resonating louder every time, it wouldn't surprise anyone if Chacin, one of the most promising young pitchers the franchise has seen recently, ends up wearing another uniform during this year.

Chacin already has 53 Major League starts over the course of three seasons with the Rockies. An impressive feat for a 24-year-old who has proven (with several exceptions, most especially late last year) his ability to survive the minefield that Coors Field can be for any pitcher. Right until Jeremy Guthrie came to the Rockies, he was the main candidate for becoming the rotation's ace.

In the meantime, Chacin is patiently practicing and working for being at his best for the moment when it will all officially begin. Too bad a clock will be behind him, ticking louder every time. His former teammate, now with Cleveland, experienced it before.

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