|Trading for Jeremy Guthrie is proving to be a huge mistake.|
The Rockies main objective this offseason was to create a winning culture in the clubhouse. They made moves to get savvy veterans who would play team baseball. They wanted to bring in players who were hungry to win and would put their personal numbers aside to play the game the right way.
On paper, it sounded good. The team impressed many around baseball by overpaying for Michael Cuddyer, a free agent who plays hard-nosed baseball. They were willing to take on the salary of Marco Scutaro, another hard-nosed veteran who knows how to take a good at-bat.
The third big move was to shore up the pitching staff. General Manager Dan O'Dowd pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom to Baltimore for Orioles ace Jeremy Guthrie. Hammel had fallen out of favor, and out of the rotation, in Colorado and Guthrie was a proven innings-eater.
Guthrie led the American League in losses in both 2011 and 2009. However, that was easy to write off because he played on a horrible Baltimore team and was facing tough American League East lineups night-in and night-out. The right-hander had logged 200 innings in each of the past three seasons, meaning he would give the Rockies quality outings and save the bullpen from wear-and-tear.
However, as it stands, Guthrie is one of the biggest problems on a Rockies team without a shortage of issues. On Saturday, he went five innings, giving up six total runs on 10 hits. He struck out five and walked one. The caveat in the line is that only two of the runs were earned.
There is no doubt that Guthrie suffered from Jordan Pacheco's first inning throwing error. However, a true ace minimizes adversity. When things go wrong, they may give up a couple of runs, but for the most part, the figure out how to stay away from the big inning.
On Saturday, Guthrie couldn't do that. After Pacheco's error, the inning continued down a bad path. Guthrie ended up giving up a long 3-run home run to Chris Heisey, giving the Reds a 4-1 lead.
In the 4th inning, Guthrie was again touched by the long ball, giving up a solo shot to Reds top catching prospect Devin Mesoraco.
The problem is that Guthrie simply doesn't have anything special in his arsenal of pitches. He throws hard, hitting the mid-90's routinely, but there is no life on his fastball. The heater sails in with no movement, which makes it easily hit-able to a Major League hitter. On top of that, his slider isn't good enough to be an out pitch. What that means is that he doesn't have enough movement on any of his pitches for a hitter to be uncomfortable in the box. They can dig in and wait until the pitch is delivered to see what it is and tee-off on it. None of his pitches are a true strike out pitch.
Meanwhile, in Baltimore, Jason Hammel continues to do his part to make the trade look even worse for the Rockies. He currently leads in the league in wins, with six, and has a 2.78 ERA through nine starts. In 55 innings he has given up 17 walks while striking out 53 batters. Of course, there is no guarantee that Hammel will continue his hot start, but right now he is on the path that will earn him a roster spot on the All-Star team, while Guthrie looks like a glorified batting practice pitcher.
Starting pitching has been the biggest issue for the Rockies this season. Things may have been completely different if Guthrie and Jhoulys Chacin had been anywhere close to dependable. Instead, Chacin sits on the disabled list and Guthrie inspires little to no confidence.
Clearly the Rockies thought that Hammel was a clubhouse concern. He may not have been a bad guy, but they seemed to lump him into the category of passionless players from the 2011 club that needed to be shipped off. Apparently that motivated the former Rockie, as he would be a huge boost for a team that is struggling mightily on the mound, and are getting no help from the guy that the Rockies received back for him.
The Rockies look to take the series from the Reds on Sunday before heading home for a Memorial Day doubleheader against a surprisingly competitive Houston Astros team.
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