Hard-luck Guthrie would benefit from a change of scenery

Now that the Orioles have shortstop J.J. Hardy signed for another three years, their best trade chip before the July 31 deadline is pitcher Jeremy Guthrie.

Guthrie is the classic case of a pitcher that needs a change of scenery. He’s been a hard-luck pitcher since coming to the Orioles in 2007. His career has been defined by a lack of run support. Scouts everywhere know that he’s a much better pitcher than his career 41-61 record. His 4.19 ERA is impressive.

But Guthrie looks beaten down. He’s 3-13 with a 4.45 ERA this season and appears to be looking for a new start with another team. Who could blame him?

The good news for the Orioles is that there are plenty of teams looking for pitching. The bad news for the Orioles is that they don’t have any pitcher that can replace Guthrie’s workload in the rotation. If the Orioles are going to reverse their fortunes, they need to fix their rotation first. Nothing else matters until they do.

Here’s a look at what’s going on with contenders that might consider Guthrie:

* The Boston Red Sox have been hurt by injuries and appear interested in Guthrie, depending on how their rotation comes together. Lefty Jon Lester (lat) is back July 26 and so the only injured pitcher that the Red Sox have to worry about is Clay Buchholz (back), although knuckleballer Tim Wakefield is 43 and John Lackey has a soaring ERA.

* The Detroit Tigers, contenders in the American League Central, are calling around for pitchers. They have Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer at the top, but Rick Porcello is not pitching well and there are holes in the No. 4 and No. 5 slots.

* When was the last time the New York Yankees looked for pitching? They have CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett leading their rotation. Phil Hughes looks good in his return, but can they count on Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon and Ivan Nova? Guthrie would look good in a rotation heading into the postseason.

* The St. Louis Cardinals want a starter and/or reliever. Chris Carpenter is pitching well, but they need help beyond Kyle Lohse, Jake Westbrook and Kyle McClellan.

* The Pittsburgh Pirates could use an arm to back up Kevin Correia and Charlie Morton, but the Pirates might be focused more on getting a bat to play third, first or work behind the plate.

* Maybe Guthrie could end up with his original team, the Cleveland Indians. The Indians have Fausto Carmona and Justin Masterson at the top of their rotation, but an experienced arm would do wonders in their surprise run in the AL Central.