Should the Indians have re-signed Ubaldo Jimenez or Scott Kazmir?

Patrick Smith

Ubaldo, Kazmir, Harang... All gone. Did the Indians make the right pitching decisions this offseason?

The Indians starting rotation is off to a shaky start. Justin Masterson was great on Opening Day, but has had two bad outings in row. Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister each had trouble in their first appearance, but have both done well in their last two starts (McAllister especially). Danny Salazar has had dazzling innings in each of his three games, but his walk rate is ugly and he's allowed at least one home run each time out. Carlos Carrasco has been bad twice, and already has many calling for him to be moved to the bullpen again.

Trevor Bauer did well when called up for a spot start due to a short-notice doubleheader, and has two good games for Columbus under his belt. He's making a convincing case for being promoted permanently. Josh Tomlin, on the other hand, has struggled in his first two minor-league starts of the season, uncharacteristically walking 7 batters in 12 innings. There's not anyone else on the farm right know whom I can fathom being brought up anytime soon unless a lot of things have gone very wrong.

There are three other pitchers who could have been in the rotation though, had they been re-signed (in two cases) or let go at the end of spring training (in one case). Ubaldo Jimenez declined a qualifying offer and signed a 4-year, $50-million deal with the Orioles. Scott Kazmir wasn't given a qualifying offer, and signed a 2-year, $22-million deal with the Athletics. Aaron Harang was brought into camp on a minor-league deal, but let go once it was decided that the fifth spot n the rotation would go to Carrasco. Harang then signed with the Braves.

Should the Indians have kept one of those three?

Jimenez has made three starts for Baltimore, and so far he's looked like the Ubaldo we came to dread throughout most of 2012 and the early stages of 2013. His ERA is an ugly 7.31 (his FIP is an only marginally less ugly 6.73), with a league-leading 10 walks already, along with 4 home runs allowed. I'm 99% sure he's going to do better than that over the rest of the season (he won't survive the rest season if he's not better than that), but I'm also quite happy the Indians didn't commit to him for four seasons. I bet if you creep close and listen carefully while Ubaldo is sleeping, you can hear him whisper, "Mickey... help."

Kazmir has made three starts for Oakland, two of them very good. His first outing came against the Indians in the second game of the year, when he threw 7.1 shutout innings at them. His next game wasn't as smooth, as he walked four (but limited the damage to 3 runs over 6 innings). He bounced back with 6 shutout innings on Sunday, with 9 strikeouts. It's easy to say Cleveland made a mistake by letting him leave, but Sunday also served as a reminder of why many were leery of a multiyear deal, when he left after only 82 pitches because of soreness in his forearm. The concern with Kazmir isn't so much how well he'll pitch, it's how often he'll pitch.

Harang has made three starts for Atlanta, and has been great. He's gone 6+ innings in each of those games, allowing a total of two runs. He's recorded 17 strikeouts while issuing only 6 walks, and he hasn't given up a home run yet (which is saying something, given that he allowed the third-most home runs in baseball over the previous ten seasons). American League fans are always quick to point out that pitching in the NL is easier, which is true, but there's no arguing the fact that Harang has pitched very well. If Bauer isn't ready, or if Salazar continues to struggle, or if someone else is injured, I'm going to wish we had a Harangutang available.

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