Let this glorious tradition continue for another year as the Rockies and Orioles agreed to a three-player deal this morning, with Baltimore sending Opening Day starter and acknowledged sneakerhead Jeremy Guthrie (three out of the last four years!) to Colorado for reliever Matt Lindstrom and starter Jason Hammel. Feel the excitement!
I just can’t muster much enthusiasm for a swap of a generic innings eater for a generic innings eater and a throw-in reliever.
— David Cameron (@d_a_cameron) February 6, 2012
Jeremy Guthrie is precisely what Mr. Cameron describes above: an innings eater. Guthrie logged more than 200 innings over each of the last three seasons, ranking him in the top 20 in baseball. That’s good, right? Look at all the lavish praise heaped upon pitchers like Gio Gonzalez for his durability during his extended trade window.
Sadly for Jeremy Guthrie, “innings eater” takes on a pejorative form here because, well, he doesn’t really do much else well. Guthrie goes out and pitches. He gets his brains beat in but, galldarnit, he takes the ball every fifth day like a hero. All those innings give Guthrie extra opportunity to serve up home runs, it seems. The righty has 88 home runs to his name since 2009, the third highest number in baseball.
Moving to Colorado should certainly…not change a thing. Oriole Park at Camden Yards is a home run haven with park factors of 118 for left-handed batters (100 being average) and 123 for righties. Coors Field might serve as a slight home run reprieve for Guthrie (113/117), though its vast expanses lend to more triples and doubles.
Jason Hammel is a slightly better pitched by FIP and other metrics but he doesn’t make nearly as many starts or pitch as many innings. Hammel is more of a ground ball pitcher with experience in the AL East already under his belt. Sure, that experience was one of pain and agony but at least he has been there before, right?
Matt Lindstrom used to be a decent little reliever, even making his way onto the 2009 American World Baseball Classic roster. Lindstrom was the nominal closer for the Marlins at times during 2009 & 2010. He has a solid career shutdown/meltdown ratio of 96/45 but his strikeout rate took a serious dip last year. He gives the Orioles another non-Kevin Gregg option at the back of their bullpen, for whatever on Earth that is worth.
This deal is really about salary. The O’s and Guthrie were headed towards salary arbitration with $3 million dollars between their respective offers (the O’s offered $7.25m, Guthrie countered at $10.25m.) the newest Rockies pitcher reportedly agreed to a deal with his new club, putting all that ugliness behind him. Update: The deal is one year, $8.2 million.
For the Rockies…they get another pitcher? Much is made of the peculiar position the Rockies enter this season and this move doesn’t clear too much up for me. The Rockies essentially trade their number 2 starter for…a number two starter. They lose a season of control by swapping Guthrie for Hammel and but gain a pitcher with a higher ceiling.
The Rockies must believe a pitcher like Guthrie — who shows occasional flashes of better-than-goodness — will benefit with a more to the Senior Circuit. A few extra starts in some of the windswept parks of the NL West and his numbers just might take a real bump. Which would be nice, but does it make them that much better for 2012?