With the Tigers in first place again and a new pitcher and second basemen in tow, they head to the mistake by the lake to face off against the 3rd place Cleveland Indians tonight.
And they do so facing Ubaldo Jimenez for the third time this year and have been handcuffed by the man they were unwilling to trade for at the deadline last year, trading for Doug Fister instead.
Jimenez has pitched well against the Tigers this year and no one else. In fact, the trade for Jimenez has been a disaster for the Indians as Jimenez has continued to lose velocity on his fastball, his control is terrible (5.5 BB/9, a career worst) and he is actually a negative WAR player this year and was also down the stretch for them last year.
I bring this up because the Tigers just traded for Anibal Sanchez to improve the rotation at this year’s trading deadline and because many Tigers fans wanted the team to go out and get Jimenez at last years deadline.
Instead of Jimenez the Tigers traded for Doug Fister, who was magical (official baseball term) down the stretch for the Tigers, leading the staff while the team demolished the Central Division. Although he has been on the DL twice this year already, he has still contributed and is in prime form to pitch strong down the stretch again for the team as they march towards back to back Central Division titles.
Many felt that Dave Dombrowski was unwilling to meet the Rockies demand (which at the time included Jacob Turner) and moved on. However, after the deadline had passed and the division was wrapped up, Dombrowski hinted that they chose Fister over Jimenez and in hindsight, were clearly correct.
The pieces that the Tigers gave up for Fister have not amounted to anything in Seattle for the Mariners, Casper Wells was supposed to be a MLB ready outfielder who has been marginal at best. Chance Ruffin was a MLB ready releiver with a future in the closer’s role written all over him yet he has struggle mightily in triple A ball. Charlie Furbush has pitched adequately out of the bullpen…and when that is the best value a team has traded away, they made the correct choice.
Not that the pieces the Indians gave up have amounted to much for the Rockies so far, but the fact that Jimenez is pitching so poorly and they were unable to use those prospects to acquire something of at least SOME value (by not trading Turner last year, the Tigers were able to get Sanchez for him).
Jimenez is a pitcher with an xFip (short explanation: what the pitcher’s ERA would be based on a statistically average defense) of 5.29(!) which is rate BELOW awful…HE’S WORSE THAN AWFUL!!!!
Not only did the Indians give up prospects worthy of what was considered one of the top trade deadline pitching targets, they now are stuck with him in the rotation because they do not have better options because of what they traded away!
So, remember that as the teams square off tonight, that Ubaldo Jimenez was the fan’s choice to land in Detroit last summer and we should all be VERY thankful that he did not.