Birds set Guthrie free

Written by on February 8, 2012 in Orioles - No comments

The Baltimore Orioles said goodbye to one of their leaders on and off the field as they traded starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie to the Colorado Rockies for pitchers Matt Lindstrom and Jason Hammel. After thinking about this trade all day, I still wonder about it.

Guthrie, who will turn 33 in April, was scheduled for an arbitration hearing Monday. He wound up agreeing to a one-year deal with the Rockies worth $8.2 million. Had he won the arbitration hearing with the Orioles, he would have gotten more than $10 million.

Guthrie, a right-hander, spent the last five seasons in Baltimore. His 47-65 record over those years isn’t that impressive, but, well, he did pitch for the Orioles.

His 4.12 ERA over that span of time was very respectable, especially considering he battled day in and day out, throwing over 200 innings in each of the last three seasons.

He was the Number One starter for the Orioles, and he isn’t exactly your prototypical staff ace. On most teams he is a solid number three, but Baltimore asked a lot from him, and he answered the call, pitching his heart out in the tough AL East.

Jeremy Guthrie

One could have assumed Baltimore was going to move Guthrie at some point this year before he became a free agent, but I was hoping they would get a little more in return.

Lindstrom is a great arm to have out of the bullpen, but he will turn 32 on February 11, so he isn’t exactly a young arm. He came up in 2007 with the Florida Marlins where he spent three years before heading to the Houston Astros for the 2010 season. With Colorado in 2011, Lindstrom posted his best stats as he went 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA over the course of 54 innings. One other area he improved was his WHIP, which was 1.22 in 2011, a big improvement over the 1.65 he posted in 2010.

Jason Hammel was the confusing part of this deal. Hammel isn’t exactly a spring chicken either, having turned 29 back in September, and he hasn’t exactly wowed anyone at the big league level. His numbers in Colorado were average over the course of his three years there.

He went 27-30 with a 4.63 ERA with the Rockies, which was an improvement over the 7-15 record and 5.90 ERA he earned during his three years with the Tampa Bay Rays. So you have to ask, how will he do now that he is back in the American League East?

I still find it hard to believe that Baltimore couldn’t get more in return for Guthrie. Maybe the O’s brain trust confused Jason Hammel with Cole Hamels of the Phillies. Hey, we all make mistakes!

I doubt this was a salary dump considering Guthrie was looking to make $10 million with Baltimore in 2012, while Lindstrom and Hammel are due to make a combined $8.35 million in 2012. Maybe their strategy in 2012 is to have as many pitchers as possible and have them throw a few innings each.

Maybe it will be like a volleyball match where they just rotate every so often.

Whatever their thought process was on this trade, one thing is for sure: Jeremy Guthrie will be missed in Baltimore.

by Andy Mindzak
birds@baltimoreguide.com

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