Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Orioles Trade Jeremy Guthrie to the Rockies

The Orioles have traded workhorse starter Jeremy Guthrie to the Rockies for SP Jason Hammel and RP Matt Lindstrom.

While I am sad to see Guthrie go, he was likely gone at the end of the season anyway and would have commanded somewhere around $9 million in salary through arbitration this season. Like the Luke Scott situation, I'm not sure why Guthrie was still on the team and believe he probably could have brought back more value at the trading deadlines in 2011 or 2010. But unlike Scott, the O's were able to get something of value back for Guthrie. (My Guthrie love letter will come later...)

Jason Hammel, like Guthrie, has always been a bit underrated. Rightly or wrongly, I have always thought they were similar pitchers. Some career numbers for both:

          AGE    G    K/9   BB/9   K/BB   HR/9    GB%   ERA    FIP  xFIP   WHIP
Guthrie    33  177   5.52   2.68   2.06   1.22   40.6  4.19   4.61  4.68   1.29
Hammell    29  169   6.25   3.11   2.01   1.06   45.1  4.99   4.38  4.27   1.47

Hammel walks a few more batters but also strikes out a few more, keeps the ball in the park slightly better and gets a fair bit more ground balls than Guthrie. His peripherals are better. But he's been the anti-Guthrie in terms of outperforming his peripherals; while Guthrie tends to outperform his FIP and xFIP, Hammel has tended to underperform his peripherals. But they both have fastballs that sit in the 92-93 range and fill out hte repertoire with sliders and changeups.

Hammel had a down year in 2011 and I guess the Orioles are looking for a rebound season from him. If he does, he is likely to replace Guthrie's production in 2012 and with a an extra year of arbitration left, Hammel could be flipped to another club or extended for a reasonable price. He is four years younger than Guthrie and is similar enough to him that it makes sense to take a flier on Hammel.

Matt Lindstrom averagish reliever? He gets a lot of ground balls but has had mixed success over his career. He'll make $3.6 million in 2012 which seems like a lot for a reliever of his caliber. But he's cheaper than Kevin Gregg and can't be any worse.

As much as I liked Guthrie as a fan, the Orioles got decent value in return for a league average 33-year old fly ball pitcher. They got a younger pitcher with an extra year of control. It's fine. The only thing the O's did wrong here was to hold on to Guthrie a season too long if they wanted to get prospects in a deal.

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