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Indians Indians Archive The Ubaldo and Fausto Show
Written by Jonathan Knight

Jonathan Knight

Carmona_FallsAs the father of two young boys, I’m used to being ignored. For instance, a request I made eight months ago for my oldest son to brush his teeth was just fulfilled last night.

And yet I expected more from Chris Antonetti.

Two weeks ago, when I pleaded with him to trade no prospects in the hopes of scoring an immediate payoff, I truly believed he would listen and grant my request.

I was even willing to look the other way when he made the bizarre trade for the even more bizarrely named Kosuke Fukudome.

But then he went and did exactly what I asked him not to. Albeit not in the way I imagined.

The last thing in the world I wanted the Indians to underestimate how far they still had to go before they could be considered a contender and trade away a rising star from the farm system. To say nothing of trading the one at the top of the list.

Technically, Chris Antonetti didn’t do that. He traded away the top two rising stars in the farm system.

Over the weekend we heard all the benefits of landing Ubaldo Jimenez – how prospects rarely turn out to be as good as we think and that when you’re offered a sure thing in exchange for a potential sure thing, take it. We were reminded of how we turned down Pedro Martinez after 1997 because we were sure Jaret Wright and Chad Ogea were going to be the next Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.

This time, the Indians traded two birds in the bush for one in the hand. Common sense and longtime baseball wisdom says it’s the right move.

In theory, it is. The problem is, every time I look at that bird in the hand, I see Fausto Carmona.

I see a pitcher who had one fantastic year (posting the identical 19-8 record that Carmona put together in 2007 – tell me that’s not a clear warning signal) and is already showing signs that he will never be that good again.

Jimenez joins the Indians with just one more win this season than Carmona and two less than hard-luck Justin Masterson and ball-of-rage Carlos Carrasco. Jimenez’s 4.49 ERA is almost two full runs higher than Masterson, a half-run higher than Josh Tomlin, and just a smidge lower than Wild Thing Carrasco.

Well, some have tried to explain, he’s been hurt.

So you’re saying we just traded our two most promising minor-league pitchers for a guy who’s not healthy? Yeah, that makes me feel better.

And, they continue, the only reason Jimenez was shellacked in his one-inning, four-walk, four-run debacle on Saturday was because he was distracted by all the trade talk that was swirling around him.

Another plus – a guy who takes his off-field worries to the mound with him and pitches according to his mood. We’ve all seen what a mental rock Fausto’s been this year the second he faces adversity.

I’ll admit Jimenez has a good track record – better than Carmona. He played a key role in helping the Rockies get to the World Series in 2007 – even started three games and pitched 16 innings in their improbable postseason run and only allowed four earned runs.

Though he was a .500 pitcher in 2008 and 2009, his ERA was under four both years. And of course, he became a national sensation following his incredible 15-1 start last year.

Since then, his record is 10-16. And even more disturbing, for reasons no one can explain, his velocity is down.

The year after his breakthrough 19-8 campaign, Carmona suffered through an injury-riddled 8-7 season. Then a 5-12 season. And he stands before us today at 5-11 with a 5.31 ERA.

Who would have predicted that after 2007? Particularly after his epic performance against the Yankees and the midges in the playoffs? At the time, we knew C.C. Sabathia had one foot out the door, but it was no big deal because Fausto was going to take his place.

Yup. And we thought Jaret Wright was going to be better than Pedro Martinez.

And, much as I hate to say it, here we go again, only this time it cost us two guys – at least one of whom I can almost guarantee you will be a better pitcher than Jimenez in 2013.

Jimenez almost certainly won’t plummet as hard or as fast as Fausto. But can’t you just feel it in your gut that he jumped the shark at 15-1 and is gradually meandering toward a Joanie Loves Chachi spin-off?

What’s more, it’s not like the Jimenez trade is going to pay off instantly. That is, unless he’s also able to bat fifth and sixth and hit .275 and knock in 50 runs from this point on in addition to pitching three shutouts a week.

So this trade – and the Indians doing nothing to address their glaring offensive needs – is more about next year than this year.

Or perhaps more accurately, was more about making a trade than making a good trade.

Like a little kid with a new bike, the Indians got overly excited about the prospect of going into August still a part of the Central Division race and tried to pop a wheelie over a parking space barrier with the training wheels still on.

What they got was a busted bike, two skinned knees, and the memories of a pitcher who had one great season with another team.

This overexcitement also glistened in the goofy “Mad Max Beyond Fukudome” trade, in which the Indians essentially swapped four quarters for a crumpled dollar bill. They were in contention at the trading deadline, and teams in contention at the trading deadline are supposed to make trades, aren’t they? They don’t necessarily have to make sense.

I wasn’t so enamored with Alex White and Drew Pomeranz that I considered either of them untradeable. The Wright/Ogea fiasco made that pretty clear.

But if you’re going to trade both, you’d sure better get more than a pitcher who’s posted a losing record over the last 12 months, who may or may not be fighting through a long-term injury, and who can’t throw the ball as hard as he could a year ago.

The odds of pitching prospects tell us that White and Pomeranz won’t both turn out to be top-notch pitchers. It’s possible neither will. But more than likely, one will emerge as a bona fide ace, and will probably still be a bona fide ace long after Jimenez has left the Indians to be somebody’s inning-eating No. 3 starter.

Be that as it may, I offer a hearty welcome to Mr. Jimenez, who I sincerely hope listens to me as much as my kids do and is about to prove me hopelessly wrong.

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