Friday, September 28, 2012

Jeremy Guthrie's Next Contract

Trying to make sense out of Jeremy Guthrie is almost like trying to explain the color red to a blind man. Guthrie was drafted by the Mets, wouldn’t sign, drafted by the Pirates, wouldn’t sign, and finally is the 22nd pick of the 2002 draft. He couldn’t put it together in three short seasons with Cleveland, they give up on him and let him go to Baltimore where he promptly turns it on for two years, follows it up with an inexplicable stinker in ‘09. Has a great year after that, then a weaker, but still respectable year in 2011. They sent him to the Rockies for two effective pitchers in Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom. He was so bad that he was traded after ½ of a season for Jonathan Sanchez. He emerges as the replacement for Sanchez in the KC rotation and turns it on again.

It appears that Guthrie really flourishes when people give up on him. He can really turn it on, just concentrate on pitching, but not until he makes himself a burden first. He is a free agent after this season, and the market is thin on top flight pitchers. Guthrie was truly awful in the first ½ this season, just terrible, So much so that he was relegated to the bullpen to limit the damage he could do in a given week.  In all fairness, the time in Colorado was the worst he’s been for any extended stretch in his professional career, and a lot of it can be attributed to his home starts in Coors field, the thin air ruins the break of a curveball, and in 7 starts and 2 relief appearances at Coors this year, he gave up 14 home runs and 20 doubles over 41 and ⅔ innings. By comparison he’s made 8 starts at Kauffman Stadium this year and has given up 5 doubles, 3 homers, and pitched 12 & ⅓ more innings.

He is also a flyball pitcher, so that much cannot be excused, if you’re letting opposing hitters put the ball in the air in Coors field you may as well just let them put it in the seats and jog around the bases. All in all, the first ½ of this season could be considered a wash for Guthrie who was all but set up to fail from the onset. Poor decisions made by the Colorado Rockies front office may well negatively impact Guthrie’s next contract unfairly.

Looking at the 2013 free agent class for starters we’re faced with a near formulaic grouping: There are a few excellent starters coming off strong years in their late 20s/early 30s looking to sign a big multi year deal (Zack Greinke, Jake Peavy, and to a lesser extent Edwin Jackson), there are older pitchers who are still productive enough to look for a multi year contract, but are realistically going to receive a one year contract (Hiroki Kuroda, Kevin Millwood, and Ryan Dempster), effective innings eaters (Joe Blanton, Joe Saunders), reclamation projects (Francisco Liriano, Daisuke Matsuzaka), and guys who aren’t living up to their potential (Ervin Santana, Dan Haren, arguably Carlos Zambrano). There’s no particular group that Guthrie fits into, he was terrible for ½ of a year, and he’s been an ace for ½ of a year. What do you do with that?

I think that many teams will be wary of the hot and cold nature of Guthrie’s performance but some are bound to be enticed by his potential. He’s got a successful track record, but has had bouts with ineffectiveness that have made his ace like potential difficult to count on. I am unsure of whether Guthrie will receive a multi-year contract, he’s 34 so counting on a 3+ year contract is unlikely, but maybe a 2 year contract somewhere around an annual value of 8 Million is not out of the question, but many teams may offer more on a 1 year contract with a 2nd year team option, maybe 10 million with a 2 million buyout and a 10 million 2nd year? Someone may be willing to overpay for his services given his track record but this season has certainly made it difficult to assess his true value to an acquiring team. There will certainly be suitors who are willing to give him a shot, possibly someone in the NL west, or the rebuilding Astros. In his position I may be one to look for a chance at the playoffs though, possibly accepting a 1 year deal with the Rays, White Sox, A’s, Yankees, Nationals, Braves, etc. would be in line with getting a chance at the championship. The Royals may make a play to keep the Stanford grad in their rotation, and there may be some interest in the NL Central from teams like the Cubbies, a pitcher like Guthrie can be valuable trade bait at the deadline if his contract is reasonable, so he may be a good gamble for a team that won’t likely be in the playoff hunt, but is looking to compete in a few years time.

No comments:

Post a Comment