Originally written on Burning River Baseball  |  Last updated 11/15/14
Coming out of the 2012 season, it seemed a big question whether or not the Indians would use the first of Ubaldo Jimenez's two team options and bring him back for $5.75 million. To this point, Jimenez had been historically bad, but had shown flashes of excellence in individual starts. Willing to take a chance for the relatively low price, the Indians brought him back and he had his best season since 2010 when he came in third for the NL Cy Young. While it seemed almost a certainty at this time last year that the Indians would never keep Jimenez around for 2014, all of a sudden things are not so clear. Jimenez is entering his final year of the six year deal he signed with the Rockies in 2009. He has a team option for this final season that would have him making $8M for the year with a guaranteed $1 million upon his release. This means that as far as the Indians are concerned, it is really a $7M decision since they will have to pay him one million either way. If it was guaranteed that Jimenez would pitch as he did in the second half of 2013 (1.82 ERA and 100 K's in 13 games) and not like the first half (4.56 ERA and 53 walks in 19 games) the Indians would snatch him up in a second, but nothing is guaranteed. With a normal pitcher, there would always be a risk of injury or a decline with age, but with Jimenez there is the added uncertainty of who he really is. Considering WAR, Ubaldo has still had more seasons of giving his team less than one extra win over the proverbial replacement than he has where he has given them more than one. No team would want to pay $8M for a one win player, but Jimenez still has that potential to be the 7.5 WAR player he was in 2010. The first step in determining which version will pitch in 2014 is to find the real difference between his first and second half of last season. Mickey Calloway has rightly been given a lot of credit for the turnaround, but there isn't a pitching coach in the league who can make that big of a difference by himself. The most obvious difference between the two halves on the surface was his walk to strike out ratio. Control has always been a big issue with Ubaldo and he found it in the second half, going from a 1.77 K/BB rate to a 3.7. His 10.7 strike outs per nine inning overall were also very helpful in that regard, but the reduction of unnecessary base runners was so much more important. This increase in control, and through that overall effectiveness, may have been a result of major mechanical changes during the All-Star Break. Over the course of his Indians career, Jimenez has had problems with consistency, which likely had much to do with his inability to hit the strike zone. One thing no one has ever said about Jimenez is that he didn't have the stuff to make it. With a consistent delivery, Jimenez didn't have a single bad game during the second half and only allowed more than two runs a single time, when he gave up three in seven innings against Atlanta. Of course, keeping the same delivery and release point through a couple months while starting every five days and throwing bullpens in between is much easier than keeping it steady after a long off-season. The question now is whether or not the Indians front office believe this is repeatable. Luckily, this is not a question of luck or a fluke season as Ubaldo has always shown flashes of brilliance, proving that the talent is there, even if the consistency isn't. The Indians will have an advantage here over any other team that would happen to sign Jimenez since they have already fixed him once. Not only that, but the man responsible, Calloway, will still be the Indians pitching coach in 2014. Both the pitcher and the coach deserve credit for the turnaround, but one would have to think there is a much greater chance of continuing the success if the pair stay together. Jimenez does have the option of declining his option, but that might not be a smart idea for the question marks listed above. There is no guarantee that any team would be willing to give him a long term deal after being so undependable during the past three seasons. However, a strong season back with the Indians in 2014 would make him a prime candidate for a big free agent deal in the following season. The era of Terry Francona has begun and brought with it a new emphasis on winning. If the Indians are truly all in to win in 2014, then they will resign Jimenez. At $8M, he would be much cheaper than most comparable pitchers on the free agent market and there is more than enough room in the rotation for an arm of his caliber. If they would prefer to focus more on making an even stronger push to the World Series in 2015-17, then Ubaldo should be let go, with his starts being distributed between young starters, readying them for what looks to be a very bright future.  
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Clint Trickett retires due to concussions, hid two

Drew Stanton likely out for the year, postseason included

Byron Scott: ‘Idiots’ think Lakers are better team without Kobe

Undrafted QB Connor Shaw to sign with Browns, likely start

Report: Alex Smith out Week 17 with lacerated spleen

Belichick: Garoppolo has better understanding of NFL

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Lionel Hollins: 'Honored and blessed to coach Kevin Garnett'

Curt Schilling gives Johnny Manziel advice on Twitter

The last time the Lions won in Green Bay

Carmelo Anthony: The Knicks are dying

Andre Johnson willing to take pay cut with Texans?

Mets star David Wright reaches out to sons of slain NYPD officer

Video: Rudy Gay tosses half-court alley-oop to McLemore

WATCH: Craig Sager is touched by outpouring of support during leukemia fight

Hiroki Kuroda returns to Japan, ditches Yankees

Kevin Garnett: ‘Very weird’ to see Celtics without Rajon Rondo

Report: New Jersey Devils fire head coach Peter DeBoer

Mark Richt confirms Todd Gurley will leave UGA for NFL

Frank Gore: Colin Kaepernick is 'not broke'

The story of Morgan Bulkeley and birth of National League

Five breakout stars in 2014

The 2014 NFL All-Help Offense

Five things the world learned about the NBA on Christmas

What if Bear Bryant coached in the NFL?

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.

Five breakout stars in 2014

The 2014 NFL All-Help Offense

Five things learned about NBA on X-Mas

What if Bear Bryant coached in the NFL?

Carmelo Anthony: The Knicks are dying

The last time the Lions won in Green Bay

Year's most notable sports media stories

'Roberto Gronkowski wishes fans Feliz Navidad

Are the Seahawks back on track?

Wright reaches out to slain officer's sons

Q&A with Rich Eisen; TNF, DirecTV and living in LA

Dan Le Batard sums up Miami's relationship with LeBron

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.