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July 31, 2011 at 10:13 am ET
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Ubaldo Trade: Townie’s Thoughts

Dude may look like Lurch from Hot Fuzz, but he’s also the most talented pitcher in Rockies history, which left many scratching their heads as to why Colorado would even contemplate exporting him from the rarefied Coors Field air, let alone have the Tribe swoop in as surprise takers.

With expectations high since their 2007 World Series appearance, coupled with the overall disappointment of the past two years, the Rocks decided to use one of their chips to stockpile for the future, both short and long-term.

We went from disbelief that Jimenez was being dangled, to asking a Big League Stew scribe and esteemed alum whether he’d offer his thoughts should a deal go down, to actually posing the questions from a movie theatre just because…that’s where I was when it became official.

So, loyal and learned B&C reader, please welcome back Mark Townsend:

Great questions. Really made me put some good thought into the trade and I came away from answering them feeling even better about it!

Let me start by saying it’s great to be talking baseball with you Lando and it’s great to be back here on Bugs & Cranks.

First of all, why deal Ubaldo?

Well, the cold, hard truth is general manager Dan O’Dowd has misjudged some talent the past couple seasons. That, coupled with the injury to Jorge De La Rosa and the regression of several prospects, has left them dangerously short on big league ready talent. The organization definitely needed a shot in the arm to keep that problem from overwhelming them.

Ubaldo was the biggest chip they had. He could bring them a return to not necessarily rebuild with, but to contend with as soon as next season. It’s a bold move, and not without some risk, but the status quo wasn’t going to work much longer.

Are teams a bit reactionary these days? One down year and players are out. Wouldn’t it be better to build a rotation around Jimenez?

I do think teams have gotten a jumpy in recent years. Often times to the detriment of their organization. However, in this case, I think the Rockies have thought the whole process through and have made some harsh evaluations of their own system. They see what’s broken, and they’re attempting to correct it before they sink too far into mediocrity. As a fan, I appreciate that, because I look at what Jim Hendry is doing in Chicago and know his unwillingness to make those same evaluations (admit his mistakes) is keeping that organization from moving forward.

To build around Jimenez would have been ideal. Unfortunately, it got to a point where there wasn’t enough to build around him with, so you replenish.

Do you feel the haul will pay off?

Drew Pomeranz and Alex White are two pitchers many executives believe will make impacts. Both ranked in Baseball America’s Top 50 prospects this season, so to land both of them is exciting. My fingers are crossed it’ll work out the way Dan O’Dowd envisions it, but I promise you Dan will be spending the next several months on the edge of his seat. His future is very likely tied to this move.

With Tulo and CarGo and De La Rosa, and all the prospects, do you feel the Rockies are on the right track?

I think so, or I at least feel this is a big step towards getting back on that track. There is still some fat to be trimmed and a couple older bullpen arms that I believe could be turned into decent prospects. I’d like to see those moves made hopefully by the time this goes to print, but this move should help.

As you mentioned, there’s elite talent at the top of Colorado’s roster. Even throw in Todd Helton, who has been phenominal this season. It’s really all about reshuffling that second tier of talent and hopefully expanding that tier. When you look at it now, who’s there? Jhoulys Chacin and Huston Street for sure. Dexter Fowler is working his way back up, but it’s not nearly what it was 12-24 months ago.

Do you think Colorado runs the risk of players quitting because the club shipped a cornerstone, or perceived cornerstone?

That’s not a concern. In fact, I expect it to be a motivating factor. All of those players and coaches hugged a great teammate and a great person goodbye on Saturday night, and a lot of it is directly tied to how poorly they’ve performed. Each of them should feel responsible to a degree, which I would hope they turn into a renewed focus, rather than an excuse to mail it in.

Also, with the solid leadership in place — Helton and Tulowitzki — I expect things to be handled professionally in the clubhouse and between the lines.

Did the Boulders get enough in return?

I was hoping they could find a way to secure a major league ready bat in the deal, but overall I’m very comfortable with this haul. To get three arms (throwing Joe Gardner in that mix) you believe can contribute for you in relatively short order, I’ll take that. Of course success is not guaranteed for any of the three, but I feel if they hit a home run with Drew Pomeranz, the move will be remembered very fondly much like Carlos Gonzalez coming over for Matt Holliday. Pomeranz is the key.

What are the most times you’ve refilled your popcorn at the movies? (I’m about to catch a flick, and I couldn’t believe there were refills or how many people use, though it was tempting to head out to the lobby about half-way through the show to ask them to “top it off.”)

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve gone to the movies. Really long time. I do remember back in high school going with a date and refilling frequently. Probably not so much because me or my date were hungry, but because I wanted to see as little of the movie as possible. I can’t remember what the movie was though. Late 90s chick flicks for $1000, Alex.

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