The clubhouse cleanup continues for the Colorado Rockies.
On Monday morning, the Rockies shipped Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for the Orioles four-time opening day starter, Jeremy Guthrie.
The right-hander went 9-17 in 2011 with a 4.33 ERA. Numbers, however, can be deceiving in the hitting-rich American League East. Especially considering that half of Guthrie's starts came at Camden Yards, which is every bit of the hitter's park that Coors Field is. Throw in the fact that as the team's No. 1 starter, he was generally facing the opposition's ace.
Make no mistake, the trade for Guthrie has more to do with the Rockies attempt to re-shape the clubhouse mindset than to acquire yet another formidable arm for the rotation.
Jason Hammel was a huge part of the Rockies rotation in their 2009 run to the postseason. Acquired as a castoff from Tampa Bay, Hammel came into his own in Colorado and with his above-average fastball and curveball, proved that he could win as a starter.
However, in 2011 he regressed. His 7-13 record, coupled with a 4.76 ERA and a demotion to the bullpen late in the season essentially ended his run as a Rockie.
The writing seemed to be on the wall for Hammel, who seemed to be one of the targeted members of the clubhouse who was destined to be shipped off before Spring Training started. The lanky right-hander is the last in a group of Rockies who the front office clearly believed didn't take the game seriously enough to keep around.
Beginning with Chris Iannetta, the front office has moved out every member of the Rockies who seemed to have a lackadaisical attitude, something that clearly became a problem for the team as their struggles mounted.
The move to acquire Guthrie not only shows that the Rockies are looking to change the mindset in the clubhouse, but take a deeper look and there might be an additional reason to make the move.
Guthrie was coveted by at least four clubs at the trade deadline in 2011. He is a good enough pitcher that many teams think he could be a difference maker down the stretch.
From this perspective, the Rockies seem like a team that knows their farm system has been depleted far beyond what they even expected. The teams off-season moves seem to point to the fact that 2012 is a rebuilding year, especially with the pitching staff. That would give the team another year to get some of the younger prospects seasoned for the big club.
One theory might suggest that Guthrie was acquired not just to shore up the pitching staff, but also to provide a possible arm that other teams would be willing to overpay for near the July 31st deadline if the Rockies find themselves out of the race. The righty, with one year left on his contract, could easily be a veteran force in the rotation, or trade bait that could bring back a quality minor-leaguer in a deadline deal that helps the Rockies rebuild their farm system.
Either way, the Rockies have most likely completed their makeover. They are a completely different looking team than the one that took the field on opening day a year ago. The team looks competitive on the offensive side of the ball, but the success of the team looks as if it will depend on a starting rotation that is unproven.
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