Guthrie gets hammered in Oakland

June 05, 2009 | Drew Forrester

Any doubt now that something’s wrong with Jeremy Guthrie?

The O’s No. 1 starter got shelled in Oakland tonight, surrendering six earned runs in the first inning before giving way to Mark Hendrickson,who got the final out of the inning.

The Orioles never recovered tonight, losing 9-1 to the Athletics in the first of a three-game series.

I’ve been saying it virtually all season:  “Something’s not right with Guthrie”.

Did his participation in the March edition of the World Baseball Classic alter his typical spring routine to the extent that he never got fully prepared for the rigors of the regular season schedule?

How about that early March $120,000 paycut the O’s slapped on him?  Is that a lingering, festering issue?  If so, it would be tough to blame him.  The team spent $5 million on an unknown Japanese pitcher in the off-season and gave a journeyman like Mark Hendrickson a million bucks but decided to trim Guthrie’s salary by $120,000 because “they had the right to do it”.

I’ve heard rumbles from team associates that Guthrie’s clubhouse mood has changed in ’09.  “Less interactive” and “definitely uptight” were two recent descriptions of the pitcher’s disposition from someone who’s around the club just about every day.

Or, could it just be that 2009 is not Guthrie’s year?  It’s not like he’s been awful, mind you.  He’s had his bright moments.  But for the most part, he’s not the same pitcher we saw a year ago.  Something’s not right.

I’ve been saying for the last month or so that the club should explore their options with Guthrie in July.  His arbitration years are on the way, he’s credible enough to snag a decent prospect or two from a contending team at the deadline and, ultimately, the O’s are seemingly a franchise stocked with enough young talent that losing Guthrie for two months at the end of the ’09 campaign shouldn’t hurt them too much in 2010 and beyond.

Tonight’s performance supports the theory that Guthrie might be good trade bait in 6 weeks.

But first, the O’s should figure out what’s gone wrong with their best pitcher.

If they’ve somehow had a hand in his decline, they need to assess that issue and move forward armed with the knowledge of how it happened and how to avoid a repeat occurrence in the future.