Because the Indians won’t go away and no one else in the AL Central will step up and take control, Cleveland has made a flurry of moves to solidify itself as a legit contender and not just a hopeful, plucky team.
The Indians may have trumped everyone in landing Ubaldo Jimenez, perhaps the prize of this year’s trade deadline, for a chance to play deep into October.
Sure, you can point to the numbers that Jimenez has put up since going 15-1 with a 2.20 ERA in the first half last season (by the way, he is 10-16 with a 4.03 ERA since making the All-Star Game start in Anaheim last year). Or you can considerhim an ace pitcher who is under club control until 2014. The latter of which Cleveland assuredly did.
However, in giving up four highly-touted prospects to Colorado, the Indians may be performing a reversal of fortune from nine summers ago.
That was the year when Cleveland sent Bartolo Colon to Montreal in a similar fashion.
The Expos were hopeful that Colon’s power arm would inch them closer to the playoffs as they were 6.5 games out of first place at the time of the deal. It didn’t work as Montreal finished 19 games out to a surging Atlanta squad. Colon was dealt to the White Sox the following January. (Although he went 10-4 with a 3.31 ERA in his stint north of the border, eh.)
The Indians landed an impressive haul for Colon: Lee Stevens, Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips. Stevens was the only proven major leaguer at the time of the deal and by proven we mean he played more than he should have. He was an all-or-nothing hitter who often ended up on the latter end of that term.
Of course Sizemore – a three-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glover – has been a cornerstone in Cleveland ever since the deal. (And, he ended up showing off his, umm, physique.) Lee won a Cy Young in Cleveland in 2008 and then brought several prospects from Philadelphia in 2009 and Phillips was sent to Cincinnatiwhere he became a 30-30 second baseman.
So, while Cleveland may be hoping to sow its postseason oats with the Jimenez trade, a better indication of its value may rest in what – or whom – the Rockies got.
Drew Pomeranz was drafted fifth overall in the 2010 draft by Cleveland and dominated Class A ball – 3-2 with a 1.87 ERA in 15 starts – before recently being moved to Class AA.
Alex White, a righty who was the Indians’ first-round pick (15 overall) in 2009 has a 1.90 in four starts at Class AAA this season. Last year he had a 2.45 ERA in 25 starts at two different levels of the Cleveland farm system.
Joe Gardner is a hard-throwing right-hander who was a third-round pick in 2009 and in his first taste of Class AA ball is 7-8 with a 4.99 ERA this season. But, last year in two different Class A leagues he was 13-6 with a 2.75 ERA. Plus, he comes from the best college in America. (The photo below shows some UCSB sluts folks during the annual “Undie Run.”)
And,Matt McBride, a second-round pick in 2006, has languished in the minors for the past six years, but you never know. Maybe he can figure it out. Maybe not. He is not the jewel of this group coming to Colorado.
Maybe Ubaldo Jimenez will carry Cleveland into the postseason this year. Maybe he will be a part of three Indians postseason runs over the course of his contract.
Or – and this is a more likely scenario – Colorado will take the good, young players they received and use it to propel itself forward. That’s what Cleveland did in 2002. More than likely, Colorado will get at least two major league players out of this deal and will be more formidable in the future when the Indians have to reset, rebuild and refocus after Jimenez is gone.
Hey, it happened before.