Having had just a few hours to digest the Jeremy Guthrie trade made by the Orioles today, a few quick thoughts and some perspective come to mind:
First is the simple fact that they had to do it. When given a chance at the open market, many had come to believe (myself included) that Guthrie would charge out the door. There simply seemed to be too much proverbial water under that bridge to get past, from arbitration stare-downs to the $100k or so the Orioles took from him a few years ago to the simple notion that continued losing had simply worn on Guthrie, his departure at his first opportunity at least seemed likely. While the Orioles could have (and may have) made overtures to lock him up long-term before he was afforded that opportunity one thing seems clear, every team in baseball could use Jeremy Guthrie and as his stats tend to reflect, despite his skills on the mound, he’s no more valuable to the Orioles than to any other franchise especially one with a real chance at winning, in fact you could argue he’s been less valuable to the O’s than he would have been to a potential contender.
While it’s arguable that they didn’t get enough in return for Guthrie, if the alternative was losing him for nothing, then anything in return is okay. While useful, Guthrie doesn’t have mortgage the franchise type value, and if free agency is eminent for him anyway, teams seemed at this point contented to wait it out for another year. If indeed the Rockies allow him to reach free agency, the Orioles will have as good a chance at getting him back as they would have anyway, and in this an otherwise lost season already the team can use his spot in the rotation to sort through the myriad of unproven pitchers brought in this off-season.
The Guthrie move also gives cause for us to reflect once again on the life and legacy of Mike Flanagan. First is the fact that getting Guthrie, for nothing, is one of the last and best moves made by Mike Flanagan during his Orioles front-office tenure. And second as a poignant reminder of the toll losing has taken on this team and this town and this family. And who could forget the class with which Guthrie represented Flanagan’s own jersey number both before and after his untimely passing?
Finally, here’s some perspective on Guthrie’s stats as an Oriole. While he never would have been recognized as a top-10 pitcher in the AL East with names like Beckett and Halladay and Price and Shields and Lester and Sabathia and a myriad of others at the forefront of the conversation, he probably should have been. In addition to consistently ranking among the AL East’s best in WHIP and ERA while struggling in the wins column, the impressive list of aforementioned pitchers all had the benefit of 18 games per season against the Orioles and all were spared the difficulties of facing their own lineups. Considering all of that digest these quick rankings:
2007: Record – 7-5, WHIP – 1.21 (4th in AL East), ERA – 3.70 (4th in AL East)
*Erik Bedard led AL East in WHIP and ERA in 2007 (13-5)
2008 – Record 10-12, WHIP – 1.23 (6th in AL East), ERA – 3.63 (7th in AL East)
2009 – Record 10-17, WHIP – 1.42 (10th in AL East), ERA – 5.04 (10th in AL East)
2010 – Record 11-14, WHIP – 1.16 (2nd in AL East), ERA – 3.83 (7th in AL East)
2011 – Record 9-17, WHIP – 1.34 (9th in AL East), ERA – 4.33 (11th in AL East)