Indians

Indians Weekend Wrapup: Injuries, More Injuries, The Chiz, and What To Do About U

Ubaldo Jimenez

Ubaldo'h Jimenez

We have now passed the Memorial Day checkpoint, and your Cleveland Indians (27-21) are still in first place by the narrowest of margins. The red hot Chicago White Sox pounded the Tribe into submission over the weekend and moved themselves just a half game back at 27-22. The onslaught was stunning to say the least, considering the fact that the Indians are built to win with their pitching. But that’s what makes baseball such a great game. You just never know how things are got to take shape.

Luckily for our boys in Wahoo red, white, and blue, they won’t see the White Sox again until late September, and they were fortunate enough to return home for a visit from the Kansas City Royals, one of their favorite punching bags.

The long weekend had lots of interesting action both on and off the field. Despite the sweep on the south side of Chicago, the Indians will be just fine. So let us jump right into the weekend that was in Wahooland.

The pitching was lit up during a series for the first time all season, but of course there is only one guy I am concerned about; Ubaldo Jimenez. The White Sox offense, led by alltime Tribe killer Paul Konerko (44 homers, 165 RBIs in his career against them), put up a whopping 35 runs on Indians pitching during their three game sweep of out boys. Derek Lowe was due for a bad outing. Jeanmar Gomez has only struggled now twice this season – both in starts against the White Sox. So I am not going to to dwell on what happened to them. Ubaldo on the other hand is a completely different story altogether.

I am running out of things to say about him. After watching another absolutely horrific performance on Sunday with the Indians bullpen needing a rest, it is time consider real alternatives for what to do with this guy. Ubaldo could only muster four innings, allowing seven runs on seven hits while walking four more. The Indians brass, GM Chris Antonetti in particular, continue to tell us that his issues are mechanical.

“In terms of the consistency in which he’s executed his delivery, that’s probably been the biggest difference. When we saw him – obviously the day we traded for him he was pitching after the trade as a little atypical – but in the starts prior to that, there wasn’t anything materially different.”

Didn’t we hear that he had worked all of the mechanical stuff out in winter ball and this spring? The numbers tell you everything you need to know. Get ready to be sick.

In 10 starts this season, Ubaldo has an 5.79 ERA, a 1.79 WHIP, 42 walks to just 30 K’s. In 10 starts, he has yet to go more than seven innings, and he has accomplished that feat just twice.

In first two innings this year, Jimenez has a 7.65 ERA, allowed 24 hits and walked 14 in 20.0 IP. He’s averaging of 40.6 pitches. (I just went Underwood on you!).

He leads all Major League pitchers in walks (42) and has the third highest ERA of any AL pitcher who has made 10 or more starts.

His road and home splits are staggering. In five road stars, Jimenez has an 9.00 ERA, and opponents are hitting .358 against him. Yet him five home starts, he has a 3.38 ERA, whole opponents are hitting .171. Very odd.

Last but not least, in 21 starts as an Indian, Ubaldo Jimenez is 9-8 with a 5.64 ERA.

This is the guy Antonetti hitched his wagon to. Brilliant.

At this point, you really have to consider moving Ubaldo to the bullpen and letting him work out the kinks as a long man. Zach McAllister has done a nice job filling in for Josh Tomlin and certainly was doing a better job of saving the Indians bullpen than Jimenez has. This division is ripe for the picking, but it could come down to the end. A game here or there could really mean something. I don’t know how much longer the Tribe can let a guy go out there every five days not knowing of he can get past the fifth.

Did I mention the Indians traded their top two pitching prospects for this glorified fifth starter?

Serenity Now!

The Indians are a banged up crew right now, but despite that, the offense showed some surprising life. After Friday night’s thrashing by the White Sox, the Tribe was about to face life without the middle of its order. Asdrubal Cabrera left the game with a sore left hamstring. Carlos Santana was drilled on the mask by a foul ball (is it me or has he taken a ton of punishment this year?) and also had to leave because if dizziness. They were already without DH Travis Hafner who didn’t even make the trip to Chicago because of a sore right knee and Jack Hannahan who still hadn’t returned because of a back strain.

So over the next three games, we saw lineups and people we would never expect to see.

Juan Diaz, a AA shortstop who to be honest was not on my radar screen, was called up just to add a warm infield body. Little did we know he’d be the starting shortstop Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Luke Carlin was added from Columbus with Santana being placed on the seven-day concussion DL. Luke would get to see some unexpected PT of his own when Lou Marson was forced to leave Sunday’s game after being drilled in the cheek by a again Floyd pitch. Then Monday morning, Hannahan had to be placed on the 15-day DL with a strained calf, allowing the article to call up its top prospect, third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall.

Meanwhile, Acta had to put a lineup card together without the meat of his order. You know things are bad when Jose Lopez and Casey Kotchman are your 4-5 hitters. But you know something, this offense responded much better than anyone would have anticipated.

Acta said it best himself: “If you would have told me going into Chicago that we’d score 16 runs, I probably would have guaranteed you that we’d win the series.”

Lopez had two more hits and three more RBIs in yesterday’s 8-5 win over the Royals. He has been a godsend for Acta over these past two weeks. Carlin even had three hits in six ABs the last two games. But it was Chisenhall who made the biggest splash with his arrival.

In his season debut, Lonnie took Royals starter Nate Adcock deep in his first at-bat of the season with the big club, a rocket shot that got out of Progressive Field in a hurry. Starting at DH and hitting seventh, Chisenhall went 2-4. With Hannahan on the DL, Lonnie will find himself in the lineup every day, whether it be at third base or DH. He arrived in Cleveland hitting .324 for AAA Columbus and has made some nice strides. It should be very interesting to see how the 23- year old responds in his second tour of duty with the Tribe.

Kudos to the offense, who have scored 21 runs on 32 hits over the last three games without the Cabrera/Hafner/Santana 3-4-5 trio.

Meanwhile, how about Jason Kipnis? Does anybody love playing in his home city more than he does? Yes, the Indians got smoked by the Sox, but it certainly wasn’t Jason’s fault. He hit two more jacks and drove in 4 runs in the three losses, hitting third in Cabrera’s absence. Then on Monday, he delivered the biggest at-bat of the game, a bases loaded single which plated two and gave the Indians a lead they would never relinquish. He had three hits and moved his average up to .285. He now leads the Tribe in homers (eight), RBIs (30), and steals (nine).

Can you say All-Star?

And now on to two of my favorites (sarcasm font needed). Yes, I know Johnny Damon hit a three-run homer on Sunday, but save for that one at-bat, he continues to look completely lost at the plate. The bat speed just isn’t thee anymore. He plays every day and just isn’t getting the job done. Johnny is hitting a weak .152 while playing a brutal left field.

I’ve been saying for a couple of weeks now that Damon would be the one who would go when Grady Sizemore comes back, but it appears that we shouldn’t be getting out hopes up that this will occur in the near future.

Remember when we heard the “Grady will be back by June” bit and we saw video of him taking swings in the cage last week? Manny Acta was asked before yesterday’s game about the possibility of Sizemore going on a rehab assignment to get ready for a return to Cleveland. His response was “not anytime soon.”

Next year the Indians should just make things easier on themselves, take $5 million in cash, and light it in fire. Would be less frustrating.

Before you all jump all over me, I loved the healthy Grady. I wish he still existed. But that guy doesn’t work here anymore and that $5 million could be the difference in landing a guy at the trade deadline like a Carlos Lee (hitting .305 with 23 RBIs) or not.

OK, back to happier things. We should know more about Hafner and Cabrera later today, but the hope they could be back in the next two or three days. The Tribe will take their stabs tonight at another obscure lefty they have never faced (yeah!), KC lefty Will Smith (0-1, 13.51 ERA). Acta will counter with Justin Masterson (2-3, 4.62 ERA) who is coming off of his best performance since opening day.

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Image Credit: David Banks/Getty Images

  • EyesAbove

    Not that anyone has noticed, but White and Pomeranz arent exactly mowing people down either. Maybe the Tribe brass realized that their top 2 pitching prospects were nothing special, and decided to flip them while they still had value. In the end they may have ended up trading 2 crummy pitchers for 1 crummy pitcher. We’ll see. Im not defending Ubaldo because he’s been lousy, but the trade itself was still a risk worth taking. I dont think White and Pomeranz were some once in a lifetime prospects that we’ll never be able to replace. White is a sinkerballer who has trouble keeping the ball down, (Carmona anyone?) and Pomeranz is a lefty who throws 91 and has 2 pitches. Ive seen this trade compared to some of the all time worst, but in the end we may well have flipped David Huff and Fausto Carmona part deux for Jack McDowell. Bad trade? Yeah maybe but I doubt it ends up in the same category as Nolan Ryan for Jim Fregosi or (insert name of bad trade here).

  • Harv 21

    Don’t like where the Ubaldo situation is going. Really seems like Antonetti made a rookie error by not focusing on a crucial question: why did Colorado want to dump a supposedly dominant starter with a club-friendly contract? Now we’re stuck, because it will be a long time before another team will offer value for him in a trade.

    And if Ubaldo pouted in Colorado when teammates received bigger contracts, doubt he would react well to a bullpen demotion. Whole scenario is just yuck, and will get yuckier if we remain in contention deep into the season and he’s the weak link as the pressure ratchets up.

  • mgbode

    4-8 vs. White Sox
    10-2 vs. everyone else in AL Central
    23-13 vs. everyone else in MLB

    stupid White Sox

  • mgbode

    agree that it doesn’t become and alltime worst trade unless one of those two pan out.

    Alex White is showing that he likely won’t.   I think the Rockies are screwing it up with Pomeranz.  There was a reason the Tribe didn’t think he was quite ready to go up to MLB level, but Colorado (as they do with their prospects) rushed him up anyway.

  • mgbode

    and thanks for noting Kipnis putting the offense on his back.  

  • Harv 21

    To me the pathetic hope is it becomes the Robbie Alomar trade. That is, holy ____, he just hit .330, still plays superb defense and all we got was Matt Lawton, Alex Escobar, Jerrod Riggan, Billy Traber, and Earl Snyder?  Oh, well, since Alomar then tanked, even if no one suspected that would happen, no biggie.

    I really doubt Antonetti suspected his two first-round prizes were duds, given that they were both pitching well here when the deal was made.

  • EyesAbove

    I really doubt that Antonetti is so dumb that he didnt see the red flags with Ubaldo. Yes it is/was very peculiar that the Rockies wanted to trade an “ace” pitcher with a club friendly contract. Maybe the Indians thought he just needed a fresh start, who knows?  They knew it was a gamble, a high risk/high reward scenario.
     
    Maybe Im giving them too much credit, but I think they saw more of the same in White/Pomeranz as they had gotten from Carmona, Westbrook, Huff, Sowers, whoever. I also dont think they would have parted with White AND Pomeranz if they really believed that one or both would become an ace themselves. 

    Trades are a funny thing, sometimes you get Choo for Broussard, sometimes you get LaPorta for Sabathia, and sometimes you just trade junk for more junk. I think, or at least hope, that this trade ends up in the latter category. That is if Ubaldo never finds his old form. 

  • Markn95

    Count me as the rare Indians fan who actually wants to see White and Pomeranz thrive in Rockieland.  I say this for a very particular reason–we drafted both of them in the first round.  Brad Grant has had some impressive drafts since taking over in ’08.  Jason Kipnis, for example, is the best position player the Tribe  drafted since Manny Ramirez in 1991.  And Lonnie Chisenhall, whose solid AAA stats translated at least to yesterday’s game not be far behind him.  (And then of course there’s Lindor who has somehow managed to exceed expectations in his first 2 months of pro ball).  If White and Pomz can emerge as at least decent MLB pitchers, then Grant and the Tribe FO have built a solid resume that they can hopefully replicate in the next few years.

  • 5KMD

    But it doesn’t matter if those two crap out. You have to compare it to what the tribe could have gotten for them if they had looked elsewhere. And the only ones who know the answer to that would never share that info with us.

  • BuckeyeDawg

     The good news, as mentioned in the article, is that we don’t see them again until September. 

  • Humboldt

     “Someday we’ll figure out how to beat those guys”

    /Lou Brown’d

  • EyesAbove

    Its certainly possible that we could have gotten more for those players had we waited. But, its also possible that they had reached their peak trade value. What could you get for White or Pomeranz right now with the way they are pitching? Not much, not even a former ace with mechanical issues.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Funny… we got a lefty DH to replace Hafner, a switch-hitting SS to replace Cabrera, and a switch-hitting C to replace Santana.  Saying nothing of the quality of those particular players, that’s just interesting in and of itself.

  • Steve

     Because they have a bad team and needed to rebuild. Did the Indians trade Cliff Lee because they thought he was going to blow up?

  • Steve

    I don’t know what the constant complaining about Jimenez (or Sizemore too for that matter) does. We all know the guy is not pitching well (or is still hurt), the constant griping about it doesn’t do a damn thing. If you want to promote a conversation about alternatives, then do so, but don’t use one quick paragraph going “maybe we can try this” as a reason to write a gnash your teeth over and over.

    Also, Sizemore is getting paid like a below-average starter this year. Let’s not pretend that he is completely limiting what this team can do. In fact, they made larger offers to other players this offseason after signing Sizemore, so we know for a fact that the $5 mill isn’t preventing furthur spending. I know pointing this out is less fun than useless non-sensical rants like “Next year the Indians should just make things easier on themselves, take
    $5 million in cash, and light it in fire. Would be less frustrating” but it’s still important to point out.

  • Steve

     Grant’s ability doesn’t depend on the success of White or Pomeranz. Also, a lot of things can happen to a guy (especially a pitcher) along the path from being drafted until the majors.

  • Steve

     Well it does matter if those two crap out, because one of the likely alternatives was keeping them on the roster. In fact, it was probably option #2, as the only other guy moved at the deadline last year of any real note was Pence (Beltran refused to come here), who has now reverted back to the slightly above average player he was before last year.

  • kjn

    Seconded.

  • mgbode

    being completely fair, Hunter Pence would sure look good in LF

    (also, I have no idea if Houston would have given him to us, but it’s at least possible)

  • Steve

     Sure, he’s an upgrade in LF, but he’s a 3-3.5 WAR player. Good, but not worth giving up the entire farm for.

  • Avory

     Absolutely on the money; it’s frustrating to hear people say, “ah, no biggie, Pomeranz and White (and Gardner, for that matter) don’t look like they’ll work out, so it’s a wash.”  NO, THAT’S NOT THE POINT!  When we dealt those guys, they fetched us the reputation of Ubaldo Jimenez.  Really now, had we packaged those three young pitchers together and targeted an equally young high-upside LF (or two?) and THEN everyone tanked, I would say, at least we tried to get something we needed and there would be equal risk all around.  There was never any plausible reason the Rockies would give up an ace pitcher under control for 3 1/3 years for a bunch of prospects.  It never made any sense at all.  And it never made any sense for the Tribe not to pursue young position players of need rather than the lost magic of Ubaldo.

  • Sasha66

     C’mon Steve, it wasn’t anywhere near the same thing; did we have Lee for 3 1/3 years of control like the Rockies did?  Think of that: 3 1/3 YEARS!  On a friendly contract!  When he was traded, that was reduced to 2 and 1/3 years, with a player option on that 3rd year.  And guess what, now that he totally sucks WE get him for that 3rd year because he sure as heck will opt for it the way he’s going!  Oh goodie! 

    It absolutely strained credulity that Colorado would trade Ubaldo for the same reason we wanted him.  Made no sense then, but it sure as heck makes sense now.  They knew how weak and fragile Jimenez was and they didn’t want that to become more evident so they moved him as quick as they could.

  • Steve

     Strange how everyone now knows that Jimenez was weak and fragile, but he looked fine at the time of the trade.

    And we paid a premium for those extra years. The Rockies got our top 2 pitching prospects, and maybe our 3rd. This argument that Colorado wanted to dump Jimenez is a fallacy. They weren’t going to contend, and they received a lot in return. There’s no need to add myths on to make the story more exciting