Looking back at last year’s trade deadline, the big name connected with the Yankees was starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. Supposedly, the Rockies wanted a package of Jesus Montero, Ivan Nova, Manny Banuelos, and Dellin Betances. As ridiculous as that sounds, initial prices are meant to come down, and by the end of July the package appeared to be a couple of those top prospects. Back then the deal sounded great to me, a couple unsure pitching prospects for a guy under cheap team control with an absurdly low FIP, how can you go wrong? Well the Indian’s rookie GM Chris Antonetti took the bait, and boy did things go wrong.
Even before Jimenez was traded to the Indians, we heard that the Yankees lost interest in the right hander when the Rockies refused to offer a preliminary physical to Brian Cashman. For a pitcher who’s fastball dropped 2-3 mph on average that year, refusing a physical is a huge flag, but now we see that Jimenez’ problems stem even deeper. After joining the Indians, the 27 year old pitcher gave the team 65.1 innings with a 5.10 ERA. In this year’s Spring Training, the righty was only sitting between 90 to 92 mph, and now we learn that he battled with Colorado’s front office and teammates. He was unhappy that while he received a 4 year/$10m extension, Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki received 7 year/$80m and 6 year/ $118m (7 year/$45m as well) respectively. There’s no other way to look at this other than as a case of jealousy, and it’s hard for me to sympathize with someone who is upset about getting $10 million.
On Sunday, Jimenez finally got to meet Tulowitzki on the mound, and sure enough it ended with a benches clearing hit by pitch. Not only did he do it on his first pitch to the shortstop, not only did he do it on the first pitch of the game, but he did all this in front of Commissioner Bud Selig. There’s no better way to earn a 5 game suspension, and there’s no better way to prove that the Rockies were right in losing a bad clubhouse presence. It’s the Indian’s problem now, and while we deal with shelving Michael Pineda for a few weeks because of a sore shoulder, remember that it could be the Yankees who traded their farm system for the belligerent pitcher. In a few weeks we might have one of the youngest most competent pitchers back on the team with the same stuff he had last year, but for the Indians, do they really know who they have in Ubaldo? Sure he’ll only miss one start after the suspension, and he could regain his velocity, but who’s to say he won’t retaliate when Carlos Santana gets an extension? It’s easier to heal a sore shoulder than a swelling ego, and I’m thankful Cashman chose Pineda.