The Colorado Rockies have continued their eventful offseason by trading starting pitcher Jason Hammel and set-up man Matt Lindstrom to the Baltimore Orioles for starter Jeremy Guthrie. Hammel was worth 3.9 WAR in 2009 and 2010, but he was worth just 1 WAR last season. Lindstrom is a useful reliever who is worth 0.5 WAR and is a legitimate set-up man, despite some shaky performances from time to time. Guthrie is the “gem” of this deal and has been the de facto ace for the O’s for quite some time, but he is a 32-year-old starter with below-average peripherals and is only a 2 WAR player at this point.
The relative values of Guthrie and Lindstrom are, more or less, known, but Jason Hammel is a more interesting player to examine. This is solely because of his sudden 2.9 WAR decrease from 2010 to 2011, and fans are unsure if Hammel is the real deal. Some say he will bounce back and is a legitimate 3 WAR pitcher, while others say he is a 1 WAR pitcher who is regressing to the norm.
Hammel doesn’t have the best peripherals in the world (career 6.25 K/9 and 3.11 BB/9), but he does induce groundballs about 45% of the time. However, he doesn’t keep the ball in the park as well as he should and allows a home run every nine innings.
He doesn’t generate many whiffs at all, and Jason Hammel is closer to a 1 WAR starter than a 4 WAR starter. He is a 2 WAR pitcher at best, and it looks like the Rockies agree that Hammel is a 1 WAR starter right now. Otherwise, why would they trade him for a league-average arm who doesn’t fit in Coors? Hammel isn’t as good as his 2009 and 2010 WAR totals say he is, and the Orioles are receiving about 2 WAR in value in this trade.
Jeremy Guthrie is a better pitcher than Hammel, because he is more consistent and has the fastball that sometimes hits 95 miles an hour that everybody wants to see. He may only strike out under six batters per nine innings, but he doesn’t allow many walks either. Guthrie’s low groundball rate hurts his ability to fit in his new environment, and he is more prone to the long ball than Hammel.
However, Guthrie is more consistent than the former Rays pitcher and actually has more than one above-average pitch. His fastball is effective, and his slider can generate whiffs. Hammel does neither with every pitch except for his curveball.
Guthrie is similar to Hammel, except he isn’t able to induce groundballs. He isn’t going to play well in his new ball park, which makes this deal quizzical from the Rockies point of view. They needed to sort things out on the pitching front with the abundance of players available, but they made themselves worse by trading a 1.5 WAR starter and a good reliever for a league-average pitcher. Given Hammel’s upside and Guthrie’s downside, this deal makes absolutely no sense for the Rockies.
Matt Lindstrom was worth 0.8 WAR last season and is about a 0.5 WAR pitcher overall who possesses a 96 mile per hour fastball and a tough slider. He is easily the best pitcher of the three talent-wise and can actually strike batters out (career 10.3 SwStr%).
The Baltimore Orioles added a quality set-up man to a subpar bullpen, and they added a decent enough arm to a young rotation that is even worse than the ‘pen. They traded quality for quantity, but they went younger in the rotation. The problem is that the O’s will need to get something out of Hammel in a future deadline deal, because he only has two more years left on his contract. The Orioles need to give their prospects playing time to see what they have, and they need to spend most of their time and resources trying to add more prospects.
This was a poor move for the Orioles as well, because they traded their one sure thing for a question mark and a quality reliever. The latter part is good, but they sacrificed quality for quantity and traded their best starter. It’s tough to see a good guy like Guthrie traded, and the fans must not like that fact either. Guthrie was basically traded over a few million dollars, which is pretty pathetic on the Orioles part. Guthrie is a bad fit for the Rockies given his unique skillset that doesn’t translate well in Coors, while the O’s are better served using a question mark spot in their rotation on a prospect. Do they really think that Hammel will yield them more/better prospects at the deadline than Guthrie? Most deals make sense for both teams, but this deal was obviously lacking reasoning from both parties.
The Orioles could look good in the end if Jason Hammel is truly an underrated and above-average pitcher, and they got the better end of this deal due to Hammel’s upside. Guthrie is the better pitcher and will be better over the course of two seasons, but he is yet another fly ball pitcher whom the Rockies have acquired. Why are the Rockies so willing to add fly ball pitchers? Did they forget that their stadium is the most hitter friendly ballpark in baseball? In short, the Orioles won with relation to the deal on a whole, but they hurt their team as a result of this trade.
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