Sunday, July 31, 2011

Colorado Rockies trade Ubaldo Jimenez to Cleveland Indians

The Colorado Rockies scored 10 runs on Saturday night in San Diego. Their offense looked good. They came up with clutch hits, they pitched well, they looked in sync.

However, that was the last thing anyone paid attention to, as the Rockies shipped off their first true ace to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for two former first round draft picks a Double-A sinkerballer and a utility infielder. Whether the move will be good for the Rockies long-term will remain to be seen.

It's easy to think with your heart when trades like this happen. It's easy to point fingers and talk about what a mistake it was, or what a great move it was. However, that doesn't really make the emotions that come along with what happened go away.

Much like the Matt Holliday trade to Oakland after the 2008 season, there is an incredible feeling of loss for anyone who truly loves the Rockies. There is a sense of betrayal from a team that fans feel they have been loyal to, paid their hard-earned dollars to, and spent their summer evenings rooting on.

Many fans will point to April 18, 2009 as the day they became bonafide Colorado Rockies fans, and Major League Baseball fans. As Jimenez sliced and diced his way through an Atlanta Braves offense, getting a little help from Dexter Fowler along the way. The snapshot from that day, however, is not Jimenez marveling at Fowler's catch, or Brian McCann grounding out to Clint Barmes, the memory is of Jimenez being surrounded by teammates, who were more than teammates at that moment, they were friends, and celebrating as if they had clinched a playoff spot.

Many fans will look back to the 2007 season, when Jimenez was called up before the club would have liked to have him on the roster. As a bright-eyed rookie he showed the poise of a veteran and helped guide the Rockies to a pennant. He could have folded under the pressure, but he calmly composed himself through a second-half that required the Rockies to be as good as any team in baseball just to have a shot at the playoffs, and then continued to get better as the Rockies rolled through Philadelphia and Arizona on their way to the World Series.

Jimenez defeated the odds and pitched his way nearly into the history books in the early part of 2010, winning 10 games before June began. He did something that many baseball experts would have thought impossible when baseball came to Colorado when he was named the starting pitcher in the All-Star game that year.

He was the first pitcher the franchise ever had that could be depended on. His stuff was nasty, his determination even nastier. Yet, when it was time to face the media after the game, the last thing anyone would guess he had done that day was throw 100 MPH fastballs past confused and frustrated batters.

His smile lights up the room. He never made a single excuse. He never pointed the finger at teammates in bad times, and he never pointed the finger at himself in good times. A man who possesses more talent than most Major League pitchers would dream of was as humble of a man, by all accounts, as anyone who has walked into a Major League clubhouse.

So while it is somewhat comforting to banter about the trade, whether it was wise or not, whether the Monforts want to win or not, whether this team will ever hang on to their stars, the reality is, Ubaldo Jimenez took off a Colorado Rockies uniform for the final time on Saturday night, after one inning of the most awkward baseball in team history, and made his way to Cleveland where he will join his new team, a team that is fighting for a chance at the playoffs. That is the only thing about the trade that is a reality at this point.

There is no doubt that as the division races tighten up and the summer turns to fall, many Rockies fans are going to be pulling for the Indians, and for Jimenez to once again show his talent to the world and help another team do something extremely special.

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