Originally posted on Waiting For Next Year  |  Last updated 3/19/12

Everyone in the baseball universe has essentially said the same thing about the chances for the Indians to compete with the Detroit Tigers for the AL Central crown. They will not be able to hang unless Ubaldo Jimenez finds his old form and pitches like the the top of the rotation starter that Chris Antonetti thought he was getting last summer. Not that anyone has forgotten, but the Indians sent their top two pitching prospects – Alex White and Drew Pomeranz – to get him.

When the Tribe made the deal, there were whispers that Jimenez was hurt. His velocity, which when healthy was regularly in the 95-96 range, was more like 90-91. The command was very up and down. From start to start, the Rockies didn’t know which Ubaldo was going to show up. On top of that, it was well known that Ubaldo was not thrilled that the Rockies had taken care of their other young stars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez long term, yet he was still looking for his extension. Adding all of those things up, Colorado GM Dan O’Dowd decided to put his ace on the market with two and a half years left on a club-friendly contract.

The Indians, still right in the hunt for the AL Central, bit. The company line was they were acquiring an in his prime, top of the rotation starter with two and a half years left on his deal. I was on board with the deal when it came down. I saw what Antonetti was trying to do. He saw a two-year window and he was going all in for it. The Tribe’s top positional player prospects are essentially all here. The rest are in A ball level. The time to contend is now.

Now is also the time for Ubaldo Jimenez to show that he is the perfect compliment to Justin Masterson as the lead dogs in the Tribe rotation. But the big question on every Tribe fans mind right now is will Ubaldo ever be that guy?

I write off last season’s 11 start stint with the Tribe to Ubaldo not be completely healthy. In 65 innings, he was 4-4 with a 5.10 ERA, a 1.45 WHIP, striking out 62 and walking 27. This offseason we were told he was working closely with the team in his offseason throwing program and he publicly admitted that he was bothered all last season by a groin injury. So we entered Spring Training with a reportedly healthy and happy Ubaldo, who said being on the Indians was “heaven” to him.

If this is heaven, then his pitching this spring is somewhere south of there.

Jimenez has made four Spring starts. In all four, he has been shaky at best and has really had trouble with his command. The velocity is back up, which is a good sign, but if he doesn’t have his command, Ubaldo usually finds trouble. The numbers are ugly – 15 hits, 10 earned runs, six strikeouts, and nine walks in 9.2 innings pitched. That said, Jimenez doesn’t seem the least bit worried.

“Every time you go to the mound, you’re working on your pitches, the pitch count and get people out at the same time. But it’s not the same as the season,” he said.

I tend to agree. Spring Training games are for guys putting in the work and for a starter like Jimenez, finding that command. But I have to admit I am starting to get concerned. Seeing what Jimenez has become since his magical 2010 season where he started 15-1, started the All Star game for the National League, and finished 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA and 214 K’s in 222 innings, harkens me back to another 19-game winner we once knew.

Think back to 2007 when a big, strong right-hander burst onto the scene in Cleveland with a power sinker that nobody could touch. Start to start, there may have been no pitcher who was tougher to hit. Like Jimenez in 2010, he won 19 games and looked like the next great right-handed pitcher in baseball. He was going to be the future ace of the Indians staff.

That man was named Fausto Carmona. (and for the sake of this post, we will refer to him as Fausto Carmona)

A small difference between the two – 2007 was Carmona’s first year as a starter in Cleveland while Jimenez’s career year of 2010 was his third as a member of the Rockies rotation. We all know the direction Carmona’s career took after 2007. He’s gone 33-48 with an ERA north of five. Things had gotten so bad for him between injuries and mental issues that he was sent all the way back down to Rookie ball in 2009 to re-learn the mechanics of pitching. He never fully regained his form, yet was the Indians opening day starter last season. By the time 2012 rolled around, he was expected to be nothing more than the fifth starter and innings eater for the Tribe before his identity situation was exposed.

Is Jimenez going to follow a similar path? Its way too early to make any sort of judgment that way. I sincerely hope that he is correct, that these Spring Training issues are nothing to be worried about, and he comes out firing rockets and is the guy the Indians hoped he would be. But if he isn’t, and the 2010 Jimenez is long gone, it could be detrimental to this organization.

Only time will tell.

photo via Chuck Crow/PD

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: Adrien Broner uses Bruce Jenner zinger after win

ESPN explains reason for Dabo Swinney interview error

Brian Kelly: Kizer made right call on 2-point play

Jim Mora calls UCLA's upcoming schedule 'a complete injustice'

Tommy Tuberville returned to Auburn, lined up at Tiger Walk

WATCH: Arizona State pushes pile 20 yards on TD run


Jim McElwain still won't name Will Grier Florida's starter

Steve Smith has microfractures in back, out for Week 5

Cowboys want Brandon Weeden to attempt longer passes

Nebraska captain tells crowd 'I'm sorry we suck'

Report: Dolphins could fire some coaches if team loses to Jets

Georgia fans get #FireRicht trending on Twitter

Cormier tops Gustafsson at UFC 192

Robert Smith wants Braxton Miller back at QB

WATCH: Clemson, Swinney have locker room dance party

10 takeaways from Week 5 of the college football season

WATCH: Dabo Swinney interview awkwardly cut off

Ohio St. LB Darron Lee has message for fans after close win

WATCH: Swedish league player unties opponent's skates

Max Scherzer throws second no-hitter of the season

Ezekiel Elliott jokes he owes his OL a steak dinner

Mike Riley explains questionable pass play on third down

Torey Lovullo would be 'honored' by managerial offers

WATCH: Ohio State stops Indiana on 4th down to win game

McIlroy: Spieth, Day have made me hungry again

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

10 takeaways from Week 5 of the college football season

Rick Pitino and the shadows that never leave

Chad Johnson ... Steelers kicker?

Flacco deserves more from the Ravens

Time for Neymar's Barcelona

Seth Rollins, WWE depth, Divas and winning

Madison Keys and the future of women’s tennis

Most underrated games in NFL Week 4

What to watch in CFB Week 5

Starter strategies for final, tie-breaker and wild card games

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker