In a story that stunned Birdland and reverberated throughout the fan base, news broke yesterday morning that the Orioles top starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie had been traded to the Colorado Rockies for big league pitchers Matt Lindstrom and Jason Hammel. The move is being questioned and dissected by many of us, and while I understand the trade it is somewhat perplexing.
Before we reminisce about the class act that Jeremy Guthrie was, I think it is best if we look at what the Orioles received in return for their staff ace.
Matt Lindstrom: 31 years old, 5 MLB seasons. 312 appearances.
12-15 w/ 3.81 ERA, 45 saves.
Lindstrom emerged as the closer of the Florida Marlins in 2009 with 15 saves in 17 opportunities. He was then traded to the Houston Astros where he notched 23 saves in 29 chances. This marks the 3rd straight offseason in which Lindstrom has been traded, so essentially this guy switches zip code as much as a registered sex offender. He has a live arm with good velocity and a hard biting slider. He is a back end of the bullpen arm who can close or setup. He should help in the late innings and could challenge Jim Johnson for closer duties.
Jason Hammel: 29 years old, 6 MLB seasons. 169 appearnces/115 Starts.
34-45 w/ 4.99 ERA, 3 saves.
Hammel was originally a starting pitcher who could be found at the back end of the rotation. Most recently, Hammel was coming out of the Rockies bullpen as a middle reliever. Whether he is a starter or a reliever for the Orioles will be determined in Spring Training, but you’ve got to like the fact that he is versatile. He is a big dude at 6’6 he has 4 pitches thanks to his days as a starting pitcher. His fastball is in the mid to low 90’s, but his best pitch is either his hammer curveball or his sweeping slider. Is any of this accurate? Maybe. Am I trying really hard to talk myself into Jason Hammel? Absolutely.
This trade is a bit of a head scratcher because the Orioles traded away their number 1 starting pitcher in exchange for two 30-year-old pitchers whose best days are more than likely behind them. It would have been nice to receive prospects (Eric Young Jr. perhaps) but according to Roids -err- Roch Kubatko and Buster Olney, this was the best offer the O’s received. Guthrie would have probably left after this season anyways so at least the O’s got two proven big league arms. Therefore, we as a fan base should accept it and move on. No sense in crying over spilled milk, right Barry?
The trade has left the Orioles in search of their Opening Day Starter, a role Guthrie had embraced. The early favorite is probably Tommy Hunter, but it would be nice if Zach Britton, Brian Matusz, or Jake Arrieta stepped up in Spring Training and reaffirmed all the hype surrounding them. Another possibility is the Orioles make another trade for a bonafide starting pitcher, but the chances of this are slimmer than Demi Moore these days.
Best case scenario: Arrieta, Britton, or Matusz emerge.
Most likely scenario: Tommy Hunter grabs the ball.
For the better part of five seasons Jeremy Guthrie has been the staff ace in Baltimore and has never once complained or griped despite receiving some of the league’s worst run support. Guthrie’s win-loss record never indicated how well he pitched for the Birds the past 5 seasons. While pitching for the Orioles, Guthrie has been constantly surrounded by washed up veterans like Steve Trachsel, Kevin Millwood, and Adam Eaton. Quick note to Trachsel: everybody knew how old you were when you pitched in Baltimore despite the fact that you frosted your tips every other week. Guthrie was never apart of a relatively good rotation and much of the onus was put on him to be the staff ace and the stopper amidst many a losing streak.
Jeremy Guthrie was by all accounts a great teammate and a true leader. This was very evident in the way he embraced being the elder statesmen in a rotation recently full of young and promising yet unproven pitchers. He took “The Calvary” under his wing and really did everything he could to get the young guns going in the right direction. He discussed pitching with them daily, worked on their mechanics, and taught them how to conduct themselves professionally during the day to day.
Guthrie has been a class act and never forgot how far he had come just to make it to the Big Leagues. He was very active in the Baltimore community and was a Model Oriole. He bought into the Oriole Way from the get go and I’m glad I had the opportunity to watch him pitch every 5th day.
He wore the number #46, which was Mike “Flanny” Flanagan’s old number. Guthrie understood and respected the history of the Orioles and went to Flanny to ask if it was ok that he wore his old number, and Flanny said there was no one he’d rather have wear #46. Guthrie had Flanny’s personal stamp of approval and that is all we need to know as Orioles fans.
Thank you Jeremy and best of luck in Colorado!