Today Jeremy Guthrie was finally traded. There had been rumors and speculation of Guthrie being dealt the past few years.
Earlier this off-season there was speculation that the Rockies were interested in Guthrie, but it never moved past the point of speculation.
Guthrie was traded to the Colorado Rockies for RHP Jason Hammel (pictured above) and RHP Matt Lindstrom. I know most Orioles fans are probably upset that the most reliable pitcher on the team was finally traded. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad deal for the Orioles.
Yes, some fans probably think that the O’s could’ve gotten more for Guthrie, but at GM Dan Duquette’s Press Conference today he was quoted as saying that “We didn’t have any offers of young prospects for Jeremy.”
What this means is that the Orioles took the best deal they could possibly get.
With Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom we get a back-end of the rotation starter and an average to above-average setup man.
Hammel originally started off in the AL East, pitching three years for the Tampa Bay Rays. However, with Tampa having a logjam in their rotation, Hammel became expendable and was flipped to the Colorado Rockies.
In 2009, Hammel finally got a chance to start, appearing in 34 games, and making 30 starts. He finished 10-8 with a 4.33 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. The next season he had similar numbers, posting a 10-9 record, with an extreme increase in ERA to 4.81 and a 1.39 WHIP.
In 2011 his numbers took a turn for the worse. He finished 7-13 with 4.76 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP. Part of the reason for these poor numbers was because of his increase in walks- going from 47 in 2010 to 68 in 2011, and because of a decreasing number of strikeouts- going from 141 in 2010 to just 94 in 2011. Another issue for Hammel is that he is prone to giving up home runs, despite being a “groundball pitcher”: 36 have come in Coors Field however.
Hammel will fill in the back-end of the rotation for the Orioles. Despite the move out of Coors Field, it will still be difficult for him to produce mediocre results, especially being in the AL East. Hammel will definitely have a chance to eat a lot of innings for the Orioles though. I expect him to have an ERA of around 4.70 and a WHIP of about 1.40- based on his career averages. Even though he has some familiarity with the AL East, he still will have an adjustment period based on the fact that he will be expected to pitch a lot of innings for the O’s. His home run rate will also still likely be high, somewhere around 1.20 HR/9 is a reasonable projection. I also expect him to still have a low strikeout rate, somewhere around 6.00 K/9, and walk rate of about 3.10 BB/9.
With Matt Lindstrom we get a solid setup man who also has some closing experience. Lindstrom made his debut in 2007 with the Florida Marlins, posting a 3.09 ERA and an 8.03 K/9. After 2007, he had an increasing ERA each year and a decreasing K/9 to about 7.00 K/9. In 2011, In December of 2010, Lindstrom was traded to the Rockies and officially become their setup man. In 2011, he posted very solid numbers- finishing with 3.00 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. Despite a decrease in his K/9 to 6.0, his BB/9 fell to 2.3.
With that said, Lindstrom has a chance to be a very reliable bullpen piece for the O’s this season. He should be able to fill-in as the setup man for Jim Johnson and also has a possibility of taking some save opportunities in the case of injury of ineffectiveness. His numbers should rise from last year though, based on the fact that he has always pitched in the NL and that the AL East can sometimes really hurt pitcher’s numbers. An ERA of around 3.40-3.50 is very reasonable, with a WHIP of about 1.30. If he can keep his walks down, then he should be able to survive the season with average numbers.
In the end, the Orioles lose their most reliable pitcher and gain a pitcher who can fit in the back of the rotation and a solid setup man. Overall, I think the Orioles got the best part of the deal. It should be interesting to see who replaces Guthrie as the “number 1” in the rotation, but anyone in the rotation has a chance. Hammel will be under team control for the next few years, unlike Guthrie, who is a Free Agent after the 2012 Season. With the addition of Lindstrom, the bullpen has become slightly stronger and it gives the Orioles a more reliable setup man than Kevin Gregg.
With Spring Training coming, the Orioles may finally be done with making newsworthy transactions. But with new GM Dan Duquette, he could have a few more moves going on behind the scenes.