This Jeremy Guthrie trade is not playing to rave reviews with fans or media.
Guthrie was a popular player who pitched well for this team and the early response from fans is that the Orioles did not get enough in return for the right-hander. This morning, he was sent to Colorado for pitchers Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom.
Keep in mind that the closer a player gets to free agency, the less value the player has in a trade. Plus, Guthrie is coming off a year where his ERA increased from 3.83 to 4.33 and he will now make $8.2 million for the 2012 season after agreeing to a one-year deal with Colorado today.
Dan Duquette told reporters he felt this deal improved the roster composition of his team in that they got a starter that pitched better away from Coors Field and one that could pitch 170 innings or more. Plus, they got a power arm for the back of the bullpen. Hammel is under team control through 2013 and Lindstrom through 2012, but the Orioles will hold a team option on Lindstrom for the 2013 season.
Duquette said Hammel's fastball velocity was nearly 93 mph last year and he said Lindstrom can throw 96 mph with a slider and split-finger pitch. The 170 innings Hammel pitched last year would easily ranked as second-best on the 2011 Orioles.
If the Orioles were not going to sign Guthrie to a long-term deal - and they seemed to have no interest in that - would it have been better to just let him walk after this year and get nothing in return?
Hammel pitched better in two of his three seasons with the Rockies away from Coors Field. Here are his ERA splits during his three years there:
2009 - 5.73 ERA home and 3.13 on the road.
2010 - 4.07 ERA home and 5.71 on the road.
2011 - 5.20 ERA home and 4.28 on the road.
Lindstrom went 2-2 with a ERA of 3.00 last season with the Rockies in 63 games out of the bullpen. He did pitch much better on the road, with an ERA of 1.71. Overall on the year, he allowed a batting average against of just .232 when pitching with runners in scoring position, a key number for any bullpen pitcher.
With Colorado, he pitched mostly in the seventh and eighth innings, working to an ERA of 2.65 in the seventh and 2.66 in the eighth. He gave up a .253 average versus left-handed hitters and .258 against right-handed batters.
It seemed to boil down to this for Duquette: He acquired two years of Hammel for one year of Guthrie and added depth to the back end of a bullpen that needed it.
Here is an excerpt of Duquette's conference call with Baltimore reporters.