Over the weekend the Orioles traded starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie to the Colorado Rockies for pitchers Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom. This is going to be a different kind of post from me, I promise no stats and no research. Straight from the heart.
I love baseball and more than that, I love the Orioles. I am an Orioles fan. The word fan is just a shortened version of fanatic, which means we are all a little crazy.
World English Dictionary
fanatic (fəˈnætɪk) — 1. a person whose enthusiasm or zeal for something is extreme or beyond normal limits
I am crazy about the Orioles, my enthusiasm and zeal are both extreme and beyond normal limits. I’ve grown up watching them and feeling completely connected to their ups and downs and every single player on the roster. I feel excited, angry, upset, pessimistic or optimistic about every single transaction that goes through The Warehouse and have ever since I can remember caring about anything sports related. Being such a devoted fan of them does not mean I am blind or ignorant to the fact that as an organization is they are in shambles and quite frankly, a joke. It makes me more conscious of that fact.
I won’t bore you with my opinions and philosophy about building a winning team (but make no mistake that one is in fact built) because that post will come soon enough. I’ve been researching it off and on for the last 2 weeks for hours and hours at a time, it is exhausting. No, this is a time for me to vent about what happened.
There are several things that are troubling to the fanatical crazy person in me about this trade.
- Strategically we didn’t save any money.
- Roster wise we didn’t get any younger.
- Prospect wise we didn’t get any richer.
- Record wise we didn’t get any better.
At least one of those things needs to happen for any trade to be considered successful. That being said…
- Strategically we’re not taking on much salary.
- Roster wise we didn’t get older.
- Prospect wise we didn’t lose any.
- Record wise we didn’t get any worse.
That is the more confusing part to me, the fanatical crazy person. Guthrie isn’t a top line starting pitcher. He is probably undervalued nationally and overvalued locally which is typical and further proof that fans are indeed a little crazy. The pitchers the O’s are getting in return are of similar overall value to that of Guthrie. That isn’t the point. Actually, that IS my point. Why make the trade? It just further cements to the majority of the fan base that the people running this team, just like for the last 2 decades, have no idea what is going on. What was the benefit here? Guthrie was and probably will be a fan favorite here forever. He is very accessible, he is remarkably relatable for a millionaire and seemed to get along with every one of his teammates. If you’re not going to get any better, why do it?
The fact that Duquette says there were no prospects even being offered by anyone doesn’t make this trade any more understandable from my point of view. Again, what is the point? Nothing has changed from this trade other than one of the most popular players on the team is gone, and for nothing. The guys coming from Colorado will likely never get a fair shake from fans here. I can already hear it, “We traded Guthrie for this scrub?” It is unfair to Hammel and Lindstrom but that is what will happen because Guthrie is genuinely likeable and popular as a public figure here in Baltimore no matter what type of terrible music he listens to.
The fact is, when you already have the fans worked into a misinformed tizzy by doing the smart thing (not signing Prince or the 11 Million Dollar Man Edwin Jackson) don’t turn around and slap them in the face by doing something that has zero consequence on the team other than to further feed into the public perception that you don’t care about the fans.
If you polled people that regularly go to OPACY to watch the Orioles about who their favorite player is you likely would get 5 answers: Markakis, Jones, Weiters, Guthrie, Roberts. I don’t think that should play into whether or not that makes a player tradeable but I think it should play into the feeling that you better make yourself better as a team if you’re sending one of them away. It is probably kind of a slap in the face to the majority of fans you have left that are willing to spend money on attending more than one or two games a year. The hardcore baseball people can see better playing, managing and coaching any time they want on the internet. The people that are there to see someone on their fantasy team play on an opposing team aren’t a steady revenue stream. The Yankee and Red Sox fans only come up from Virginia on game days. That leaves you with the guys and gals that have been regulars at O’s games longer than I’ve been alive. The people that actually remember that Memorial Stadium was a real place. The people who sit in the stands and listen to the broadcast of the game they are watching in person on their late 80’s style headphones. In a time where there is not really such a thing as a local market and you can get your games from whatever city, or even country that you want… why piss on those fans? They are the only ones filling the seats on a regular basis.
You shouldn’t pander to any one segment of the fan pool because they’ll all be there when you’re winning. This move doesn’t bring anybody in because it doesn’t bring any wins. Now, or later. So why mess with one of the few good things you had? At worst it seems this deal would have been available at any time during the season so why do it now? Maybe Guthrie pitches well for a few more months here in Baltimore and you can flip him at the deadline for a prospect or two. What’s the harm in that? Do you really think there is going to be a run on 30 year old pitchers that haven’t made a significant impact in the majors yet? If so, more reason to hold on to what we had.
There are only 2 things I can say for certain about this trade at this point. First, there will be one less bicycle roaming the streets of Baltimore this summer and second, the number of tennis shoes per household in Denver is about to go way up. I’m a fan, so I hope I am completely wrong and these guys work out. But maybe that is what has made me crazy in the first place…