I don’t know that there are phrases in the English language that can adequately describe how horrendous Ubaldo Jimenez has been this year. Dumpster fire, complete train wreck, or utter embarrassment don’t even do it justice. As of right now, Jimenez has a 7.38 ERA in 17 starts, which doesn’t even tell the whole story of what a car crash this guy has been on the mound. As a result, seemingly any trade that would jettison him out of Baltimore would be welcomed by the fan base. This past week, the fever was created when Ken Rosenthal reported the Os had a deal in place to send Ubaldo to the Padres. Twitter went nuts supporting the idea of a trade including Jimenez and a prospect for Melvin Upton Jr. It didn’t happen, and Upton was ultimately traded to the Blue Jays.
I would like to see Ubaldo gone as much as anyone else, but this trade was not the answer.
In Upton, the Blue Jays get a player having a solid year with an albatross of a contract. Upton will make $15mil this year and $16.5mil next (more than Ubaldo’s $13mil next season). Upton has failed to hit better than .250 in a full season since 2008 (he played in less than 100 games last year). His speed makes him a commodity, especially for the Os who currently have a league worst 13 stolen bases (St. Louis is second to last with 24). However, $16.5mil is too steep a price for an inconsistent player with good speed. Upton just simply is not the player he was when he was in Tampa Bay but is still getting paid like it.
The idea of tossing in prospects for the expensive, inconsistent outfielder would have also been problematic. “Experts” say the Orioles have one of the worst farm systems in baseball, and with their history of sending solid future starters to other teams in return for under-performers, it was probably best they didn’t succeed in acquiring Upton.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m too skeptical because I feel like I’ve seen this story before (remember when Gerardo Parra was hitting .328 then came to Camden Yards and hit under .240, good times). Maybe Melvin will continue to rake and steal bases in Toronto, and make the Os regret not pulling the trigger (although I doubt it). Maybe Ubaldo will turn it aro… I couldn’t even finish typing that.
Ubaldo is awful, yes, but Upton is having the kind of year that Ubaldo had prior to getting his current deal. The success is a blip on the radar, for Melvin Upton Jr. and if it was believed otherwise, the market would have been more competitive for him. The Blue Jays have a history of way overpaying for less than stellar production. Plus, DFAing $13mil just sounds better than $16.5mil.