Thursday, March 8, 2012

Plain and simple: Ubaldo Jimenez acted unprofessionally

The big story involving the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday centered around the article Tracy Ringolsby wrote for Fox Sports where we learned more details about the departure of Ubaldo Jimenez last July.

Among the new pieces of information revealed by Ubaldo Jimenez himself...

1. He felt disrespected when the Rockies chose to extend Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez and not him.

"I read in the paper that the Rockies said they were only going to sign two guys, they couldn't do three guys," Jimenez told "I was the third guy. They signed the two guys they were going to sign and they gave them more (years) and bigger (salaries). "

2. He arrived to spring training with the intention of being traded.

3. He forced himself to pitch through an infected cuticle on his thumb and a strained groin because "I was not going to get traded if I was on the disabled list."

4. He then continued to pitch with a fatigued arm for the Cleveland Indians after the trade.

Listen, I can completely understand why a person would feel slighted when overlooked for a promotion or an opportunity they felt they earned, especially if they felt like the employer wasn't doing a good enough job communicating their plans and his status directly. It's not fun. Most of us have been there ourselves or we've seen someone close to us being put in that position, so it's very easy to sympathize with that.

However, this is the same player who took a two week vacation to Europe during the offseason that the club wasn't exactly thrilled to learn about. Granted, I thought the whole vacation story was overblown in terms of his on field performance (this story basically confirms that), but it's not like the lines of communication were strong going either direction during this critical period of time. So we have a two-way street here. Lapses in judgment were committed on both sides.

I won't excuse the Rockies for falling short on their end. I won't excuse them for their handling of Ubaldo on the day of his trade, throwing him out there to be embarrassed by the San Diego Padres when we all knew what was about to become official. They absolutely should have taken the lead and assured Jimenez that he remained a big part of their future plans going forward, and when things broke down, they should have given him a better exit.

But it also doesn't speak well for Ubaldo that he allowed those extensions to bother him that much, for that long. His initial disappointment was natural, but his focus should have then shifted to proving he was worth the money he wanted, not to pout and torpedo the organization that signed him as a 16-year-old (even agreed to pay his college tuition if baseball didn't work out) and treated him very, very well for 10 years.

Ubaldo Jimenez was under contract to the Colorado Rockies, he was being paid well under the current terms, and his job was to give them his best effort every damn time he took the baseball. He didn't fulfill that while pitching injured for selfish reasons.

The Rockies job is to make smart baseball and business decisions that help them get closer to winning a World Series. It's a game and it's a business, and we all know the Rockies have entered into several bad business agreements with pitchers in the past, and in Ubaldo's case they were wisely being cautious in their effort to avoid doing it again.

With Ubaldo basically locked up through 2014, they had time to evaluate him further and time to make a good sound decision. It really shouldn't have come as some big surprise to Jimenez that extensions for Tulowitzki and Gonzalez would be higher priorities during that offseason. Especially when, let's face it, he'd reverted back to being inconsistent during the second half of 2010 after those historic first three months.

It wasn't a slap in the face. It wasn't a vote of no confidence. It wasn't the organization planning to move forward without him. It was more so a challenge to come back strong and to give Colorado 30+ good starts, not 18-20. Honestly, it's more than a little alarming he wasn't willing to accept that challenge, just as it's disappointing he allowed it to play out as poorly as it did on his end.

Also, I don't really buy into the sentiment that the Rockies have attempted to paint Ubaldo as the bad guy in this picture. Sure, the Rockies didn't handle the situation cleanly (it's established that they rarely do), but they could have done more to make Ubaldo look bad in the eyes of the fans if they wanted to. But they just kinda moved on, and then we all moved on not knowing the whole story until Ubaldo filled in most of the blanks himself.

Ubaldo Jimenez is the one who openly admitted that he didn't do his job professionally for the entire 2011 season. While I acknowledge his honesty now, there's no way I could excuse that. It doesn't necessarily mean he's a bad person, or that I won't continue to like him, but I expected more. I expected better.

I expected more maturity in the face of this perceived adversity.

I expected him to act like the ace we all believed he was becoming.

Physically: We know he's already there.

Mentally: ....

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Jerry said...

Hey Mark. Can't say I disagree with anything you wrote about Ubaldo. I was shocked when I read the Ringolsby article even though I knew there was probably more to the story than what we knew. Wasn't expecting to hear it was just as much Ubaldo being selfish as it was the Rockies being the Rockies.