O’s Spring Training: The 25 who will make it (#5)

February 23, 2010 | Drew Forrester

The pitchers were starting to feel left out of the “25 who will make it” blog, since #1 through #4 turned out – by coincidence – to be field players.

Yesterday’s entry was Miguel Tejada…here are my views on Tejada for 2010 if you missed it.

Today’s profiled player is someone the O’s need to have a bounce-back year while the young(er) arms continue to develop.  Whether it was the pre-season slap-in-the-face reduction-in-pay or his participation in last spring’s World Baseball Classic, Jeremy Guthrie fell woefully short of compiling a successful 2009. His E.R.A. ballooned to 5.04 and he allowed a whopping 35 home runs last season.  Oh, he also had 17 losses.  The good news?  He didn’t get hit in the shin with a line drive.  That’s about it.

Personally, I like Guthrie as a pitcher.  I’m willing to overlook 2009 and blame it on the paycut and the WBC and just chalk it up to the old sports adage I occasionally use — “players have bad seasons…they just do.”  He’s a finesse pitcher, per-se, with a relatively small number of strikeouts (avg: 120) and smaller number of walks (avg: 55) in his 3-years in Baltimore.  Because he tends to throw a lot of strikes, he serves up more home runs than he’d probably like (avg: 27) but he’s an innings-eater and, other than last year, you can count on his E.R.A. being below the league average.

Odds he’ll be on the roster at the start of the season: 100%

Odds he’ll be on the roster at the end of the season: 90%

Odds he’ll be an effective contributor in 2010: 75%

Odds his name will be mentioned at the trade deadline in late July: 50%

Summary:  This is a big season for Guthrie.  After two years of good production, he wallowed through a poor 2009 and was then given a RAISE for 2010.  No longer is he a guy the O’s are getting over on, salary wise.  Now, as a $3.5 million player, he’s being judged on performance AND salary combined.  I listed him at a 50% chance that his name is mentioned at the trade deadline because I think the O’s will have an opportunity throughout the season to take a look at other young arms like Arrieta, Britton or Patton…and if any of those three come up and appear legitimate, the Birds might listen in July if someone comes calling for Guthrie.  I’m not sure where he’ll be placed in the startion rotation, but if pressed to guess, I’d say he starts the year at #3 behind some combination of Millwood and Matusz.  Moving Guthrie away from the #1 spot that he occupied by force last season might help his numbers somewhat this year.

Drew’s projections for Guthrie in 2010:

* 13-11 W/L record

* 202 innings

* 24 HR allowed

* 4.02 E.R.A.

* 1.208 WHIP