Guthrie deal reminds us…the Orioles aren’t trying to win

February 06, 2012 | Drew Forrester

The funniest part about the early part of the Dan Duquette era is this:  it’s getting more and more unclear what his plan of attack is…

Maybe that’s what he wants.

Maybe that’s what he’s trying to do.

Or, perhaps, he has no idea what’s going on.

At this point, I don’t know.  But I’ll go with “he has no idea what’s going on.”

The Orioles parted company with one of their finest soldiers today, doing Jeremy Guthrie the biggest favor of his baseball career by excusing him from the remainder of his scholarship to Lose So Much University.  Guthrie heads to Denver to join the Colorado Rockies, while Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom draw the short straw and head east to get acclimated to last place for the next 8 months.

Somehow, Dan Duquette wants us to think the move makes the Orioles better.

It doesn’t.

What it does, as Duquette pointed out today, is give the Orioles control of a not-quite-average-starter (Hammel) for two years while getting rid of a potential salary headache in Guthrie.  As for Lindstrom, he’s Matt Albers.  Or Chad Bradford.  In other words, he’s easily expendable.  Lots of guys can make 60 appearances and have a 3.90 ERA out of the bullpen.  That’s why they’re relief pitchers.

The numbers – and their future performance in their new duds – will prove that Guthrie is a better pitcher than Hammel.  Quick, in the last 5 years, how many pitchers who made 30 or more starts in the American League East were able to post a sub-.400 ERA in at least 3 of those campaigns?  Come on…how many?  FIVE.  Do you know who they are?  C.C. Sabathia, James Shields, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester (the best pitcher in the AL East right now) and — wait for it — Jeremy Guthrie.

Pick those numbers apart however you want, but those are the stats.

Jason Hammel won’t throw 200 innings in the American League East and have a sub-.400 ERA…EVER…and that’s that.

But this isn’t really about Jason Hammel.  He’s not a scrub.  Hell, he might wind up being the Orioles opening day starter in April. This is about Duquette trying to claim victory, somehow, by telling us the deal makes sense because the club has Hammel under two years of control.  Forget whether or not he’s any good.  Or an improvement.  “Under team control for 2 more years” replaces the team’s quest for what’s really important — winning games.

And let’s not forget the Birds could have made some sort of effort to actually re-sign Guthrie.

Duquette acts like Guthrie was banging down his door demanding a trade the way Private Santiago begged for a transfer after he witnessed a fence-line shooting in A Few Good Men.

Guthrie was the ultimate team player, hanging around for the better part of five seasons and watching this train wreck in hi-def while once getting his salary cut by $120,000 three weeks before the season started because Andy MacPhail discovered a contract loophole that allowed him to do that. (Yes, Guthrie got his salary trimmed by $120,000 by the same guy who handed Justin Duchscherer $700,000 to do a few sit-ups and pronounce himself unable to pitch anymore.)

(Please see next page)