If only change didn’t hurt so bad.
Last Saturday evening, the Rockies traded its greatest pitcher in franchise history, ace Ubaldo Jimenez to the Cleveland Indians. When the news was announced late during Saturday’s game against the Padres, I must admit I was shocked at first and then saddened at the news of the trade. With his long consecutive winning streak he dominantly put together last year and holding the franchise’s only no-hitter, Ubaldo was our ace in Colorado, even if he continued to struggle this season.
I think we all felt that he needed to catch the fire he caught last year and he would be back on top as one of the league’s best fireballers. We know he has it in him, but for some reason, he couldn’t find his groove this year. He finished in Colorado with a 10-16 record and an ERA of 4.18 and with the team hovering around 10-12 games back of the National League West Division lead, it was time to make some changes. Ubaldo was the one to bring the most bang for the buck.
For Jimenez, the Rockies grabbed four players from Cleveland including their top pitching prospects Drew Pomeranz and Alex White. The Rockies also received Double-A sinkerballer Joe Gardner and first baseman Matt McBride.
According to The Denver Post, trade talk began two weeks ago as a way to motivate Ubaldo but the talks grew into serious trade discussions as the Rockies continued their unimpressive season. Trade proposals came in from the Reds, Red Sox and Yankees and finally, the Indians came through with what Rockies General Manager Dan O’Dowd felt the team needed: More pitching.
The deal gives the Rockies a way to bring in more pitching to its farm system, which looks bleak when it comes to the area of starting pitching.
“This was a very difficult decision for us to make, but our focus with this deal was to make our team better in the very near future and we feel like we were able to do that in this situation,” O’Dowd told The Post.
Pomeranz pitched at the University of Mississippi and was the fifth overall pick in last year’s draft. The lefty throws upwards of 94 miles per hour.
White pitched at the University of North Carolina and has gone 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA in three starts. He was on the Indians’ disabled list with an injury to his right middle finger but was scheduled to start last weekend before the deal was brokered.
Since the trade was finalized, O’Dowd has said more than once that the trade was to help the team in the near future. That this trade isn’t a so-called rebuilding trade in which the front office management is scrapping the current season and looking to improve in the coming years. I truly hope O’Dowd isn’t throwing in the towel on this season yet. Yes, the Rockies have been a disappointment, yes they are mediocre at best but yes, they still can make a strong push to the end of the season and make the playoffs. We’ve seen it happen before, so why not? Right?
“This isn’t rebuilding, this is restocking,” O’Dowd said. “Even if we were 10 games up instead of 10 games back, it would have been hard to say no to this deal.”
Let’s all hope this mid-season restocking will work. As of Tuesday evening before they took on the Phillies at Coors Field, the Rockies were sitting at 10 games behind the division leading Giants.
I had hoped the All Star break would be the rest the Rox needed to start the second half of the season on the right foot but they are still playing lackluster baseball. Since the break, the Rockies have gone 8-10 with some impressive wins yet, they have some really, really disappointing losses.
Take Monday’s home opener against the Phillies for instance. One of the National League’s top teams rolls into Coors Field and Rockies pitcher Jhoulys Chacin puts together a nice outing for 7 and 1/3 innings, only allowing one run. Of course, Rockies closer Huston Street couldn’t close out the game and gave up a game-tying homerun in the top of the ninth. After that, the damage was done and the Rockies went on to lose in the 10th inning. Why didn’t we trade Street? That loss turned a pleasant night out at Coors field into a waste of time for me, Chacin and anyone else who watch the wretched game.
The night before that loss, against the Padres, was much the same. After leading most of the game, the Padres put up six runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to win. That game was the Rockies 15th straight Sunday loss. (Perhaps more of them need to go to church?)
There are numerous deficiencies the Rockies can’t seem to get past this year. When their starting pitching does well, they can’t score runs. When they score runs, their opponents score more. The bullpen can’t be trusted. Huston Street is a blowhard and can’t be trusted with a lead. Perhaps their biggest problem, though, is that they can’t get the clutch out or the clutch hit to win the game.
The Rockies were once a clutch team, perhaps the best clutch team in baseball. It’s time they find that magic again before this season is a bust.