Closing a chapter in Rockies history: Reflecting on the Ubaldo Jimenez trade

Justin Edmonds

The departure of Drew Pomeranz closes a frustrating chapter in Rockies history as each of the players Colorado received for one of its most beloved figures - Ubaldo Jimenez - has now been issued a new uniform.

The centerpiece - and last remaining piece - of the Rockies famous Ubaldo Jimenez trade is now no longer a Rockie.

Drew Pomeranz, along with mid-level prospect Chris Jensen, was shipped to the Oakland A's last night in return for promising but oft injured LHP Brett Anderson. This finally brings an end to the "hoping-guys-we-got-in-the-Ubaldo-deal-pay-off" era.

There is a ton of ambiguity in assessing trades, but I feel this move pretty much locks the Ubaldo deal into the "bad trade" category as its success had become contingent on Drew Pomeranz being able to produce in a meaningful way for the club. He never did.

Alex White, the other main piece in the trade, was mostly a mess for the Rockies and was flipped for Wilton Lopez, also mostly a mess so far.

One could make the argument that since most of us agree that the Brett Anderson trade is a slam dunk win, in a round-a-bout way trading Jimenez landed Anderson, and therefore was still worth it.

Essentially, this move means the Rockies traded Ubaldo Jimenez in 2011 for the rights to Wilton Lopez in 2013 and Brett Anderson in 2014 and little to no production in between.

That's a tough case to make as Ubaldo is likely to earn much more money next season than Anderson - due in large part to his wicked end to the 2013 season and his ability to stay on the field - and if he were on the trade market right now would probably net a bigger return than did Pomeranz.

This is not to say Ubaldo Jimenez will be a better pitcher in 2014 than Brett Anderson, I could see that going either way, but the market says Ubaldo is the more sought after commodity.

Of course the question can be asked "if Ubaldo had stayed a Rockie would he have ever regained his form?" I honestly don't believe there is any way of knowing that for sure one way or another, so I won't speculate. What I will say, is that the Rockies could have used the player that Ubaldo actually was during his tenure as an Indian.

Jimenez stopped being an ace a long time ago, but he always remained a threat. He surely would have taken a dive in the rotation, but Jimenez would have easily held a spot over the cavalcade of pitchers that came in and out of the final two spots in the Rockies rotation since his departure.

The carousel of pitchers who were either way too young - or way too old - or way too injured - or way too Jeff Manship have pretty much kept the Rockies out of contention the last few seasons.

Meanwhile, in Ubaldo Jimenez's worst season (2012 for the Indians) he accrued a positive contribution of 0.1 fWAR, while tossing 176.2 innings and pitching into at the seventh inning five times. He managed eight times in 2013.

Those numbers may not seem that impressive but here is the entire list of Rockies pitchers - outside of the Jhoulys de la Chatwood triumvirate - who accomplished that super-human feat last season:


Jon Garland, April 18th against the Mets

Juan Nicasio, July 12th against the Dodgers


And that's it.


Yes, Ubaldo has mostly been a shadow of himself until exploding at the end of 2013. But despite the fact that many days he showed up to the park and would walk the bases loaded in the first inning or allow a parade of doubles, some days he showed up to the park and gave his team a very legitimate chance to win.

RhosdIslandRoxFan posted a video segment on November 5th regarding the Rockies window for contention that is even more illuminating in light of recent events. In the comments section, he offers this observation:

The guys in the rotation behind Chacin, De La Rosa, Chatwood, and especially Nicasio were just awful and killed the team. Now because of some injuries, Chacin, JDLR, and Chatwood only represented 50% of the Rockies starts instead of 60%. In those 81 games started by these three horses, the Rockies went 49-32. However, in the other 81 games, the Rockies went an abysmal 25-56. Far too many times, a back end of the rotation starter who gave Colorado almost no chance to win took the mound.

The Rockies don't need to replace these guys with an ace, they just need guys who can give the team a chance to take close to half the games not started by the big three. If the Rockies went just .500 in games not started by Chacin, JDLR, and Chatwood, they would have won 90 games. Again, much like the Drag Factor scores, this represents an enormous potential for improvement through just middle of the road talent taking the back end rotation innings....

...Somebody who can throw in the 170 / 180 innings neighborhood and not lose the game. They don't have to be dominant (although that would be nice), but they do need to give the offense and bullpen a chance to pull out the "W" more often than not.

It's hard for me to believe that Ubaldo Jimenez couldn't have been at least that guy.

And if it turned out that his performance had nothing to do with anything but him being a streaky pitcher who sometimes gets tagged and sometimes goes a month of being dominant - and had he given the Rockies his 3.2 fWAR in 2013 - maybe that 90 win total RIRF mentioned wouldn't have been completely out of reach.

Alas, that ship has long since sailed and now the Rockies turn to Brett Anderson for that job. Here's hoping he's up to it.

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