Ubaldo Jimenez was traded on July 30, 2011, and the unthinkable became reality for Rockies fans.
Rockies’ management must have rocks in their heads.
In Ubaldo, you found your man.
He was one of the most loyal players in Colorado Rockies history, taking a low salary compared to other pitchers at his level, yet he was happy to be with the team that gave him his first chance.
In Ubaldo Jimenez, the Rockies found their ace, the guy with insanely nasty overpowering stuff that could buckle the knees of the most accomplished of hitters.
For their first decade and a half of existence, the Rockies searched for their ace; someone, anyone that could not only survive in the rareified air of Coors Field, but thrive at a mile high.
Colorado found that ace in Ubaldo, and he finally emerged as one of the best pitchers in baseball in 2010, when he won a franchise record 19 games, even though he stumbled down the stretch. Make no doubt about it, Jimenez’s 2010 campaign was the best single season pitching performance in Colorado Rockies history.
Ubaldo’s wins (19), Strikeouts (214), WAR (7.2), Walks and Hits per IP (1.155), Hits per 9 IP (6.659), Shutouts (2), and Hrs per 9 IP (.406) were all franchise records, while his 2010 season ranked him 2nd in ERA (2.88), 5th in Strikeouts per 9 IP (8.69), and 6th in winning percentage (.704) in Rockies history.
There’s a reason why Ubaldo Jimenez was the starting pitcher of the 2010 All Star Game, at 15-1 at that point, and he was the first Rockies’ starter in an All Star Game in the franchise’s history.
But all that is in the past now.
Ubaldo Jimenez has pitched his last game in the Rockies purple pinstripes.
And what a game it was. Colorado threw him out onto the mound expecting him to throw strikes even though everyone in the Rockies’ dugout knew he had already been traded.
Ubaldo said himself, “I was very surprised because before the game, everybody knew it (the trade already happened), even me.”
He was lit up and it was a dastardly disheartening way to send off the greatest pitcher in franchise history, but that’s just the business of baseball I suppose.
Ubaldo went on to say, “It’s really hard to get traded,” traded from the team he saw himself retiring with one day.
The adopted hometown hero is gone forever, we can only remember his perplexing pitching prowess, his simple style but above all, his humility and warm, broad smile.
Yes, the Rockies got a whole heap of prospects (three pitchers and a first baseman/outfielder as explained by my colleague Travis Lay), but will any of them make the Rockies roar?
The best player in the deal, Drew Pomeranz, relies on an above-average curveball, but will it break in the mile high thin air?
This deal stinks.
Not just in the eyes of Rockies fans as they lose their beloved Ubaldo, but on a deeper level.
It stinks because in the last two years, the team has taken a step backwards. The Rockies have fallen off a precipice and into a deep abyss, from the face of a new generation to a team that has turned an about face.
Jim Tracy was the feel-good story of 2009.
He stepped in and admirably befriended his team as brethren, winning over their trust (as evidenced by many a late game embrace with a player), and he won over fans by just winning at all costs.
Dominant, disciplined defense, amazingly aggressive base running and hitting in the clutch were on the ’09 Rockies’ resume. Colorado ran off 74 wins (compared to 42 losses) under Tracy that year, and they made the wildcard with another wild finish out West.
Since then, Tracy’s Rockies are a mere mediocre 133-135 and the manager has seemingly lost his team; those two team meetings called earlier in the year were a red flag that the captain had been walked off the plank.
Let’s face it, Tracy wasn’t the greatest replacement manager after Clint Hurdle (who wasn’t that great in his own respect), but Dan O’ Dowd and the Monforts stuck with him after his historic run to the postseason in 2009.
Now O’ Dowd has to save his own skin once again.
Dan O’ Dowd’s fake facade of a strong farm team is falling in front of him (as seen this year) and this move was made in desperation.
In O’ Dowd’s nearly 13 years as the Rockies’ General Manager the team is a less than mediocre 902-987 with two playoff appearances birthed by breathtaking runs.
A look at O’ Dowd’s first round draft picks is a small window into what’s wrong with the Rockies.
Matt Harrington, Jeff Francis, Ian Stewart, Chris Nelson, Troy Tulowitzki, Gregory Reynolds, Casey Weathers, Christian Friedrich, Tyler Matzek, Tim Wheeler, Peter Tago, Kyle Parker and Tyler Anderson are the names on that list, only three of which have truly made an impact on the organization.
Is getting great talent from the first round less than 25 percent of the time a good goal?
Of course not.
But O’ Dowd knew that if he could turn Ubaldo into four prospects, immediately bolstering his failing farm system that he would buy himself some more time, even if that means sacrificing another manager in Tracy.
The bottom line?
The Rockies are destined for the bottom of the division for years to come with O’ Dowd running the show, and Colorado’s fans deserve better.
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