Jeremy Guthrie hasnâ€™t turned into the ace that some of us (or maybe just me, whoopsâ€¦) thought heâ€™d be with the Baltimore Orioles, but maybe weâ€™ll see it happen with the Rockies.
In a surprise move on Monday, the Oâ€™s starter was flipped to Colorado for Matt Lindstrom and Jason Hammel, signaling the end of Guthrieâ€™s five-year career in Baltimore.
While Coors Field is no picnic, Guthrie was always a little bit better on the road, shaving an average of 20 points off his opponentsâ€™ batting averages and keeping the ball in the park while away from Camden Yards. But the late-bloomer turns 33 during baseballâ€™s opening week and has yet to prove that heâ€™s worthy of any other title than â€œMediocre Innings-Eater.â€
Heâ€™s allowed at least 23 homers every year for the past five years and has never struck out more than 130. And while his value takes a hit with the move to Coors, consider that he doesnâ€™t have to play the Yankees, Red Sox or Rays anymore. I always enjoyed Guthrie in AL-only formats, pairing him with other ratio-helping guys who ate innings in a way to save money on starters while adding up counting stats. Heâ€™s thrown at least 200 innings the last three years and proven that he can stay healthy, so part of me canâ€™t help but want to take a cheap flyer on Guthrie again this year, as long as he gets the Coors Field discount.
A guy who AL fantasy nuts are really going to like, though, is Lindstrom, who has collected 45 saves over the last three seasons, having the best of the three with Colorado last year. He served up just three homers while pitching 54 innings at Coors, but his 36 strikeouts was a new career-low.
The one thing Lindstrom has going for him is that manager Buck Showalter loves relievers with closing experience. Even when Koji Uehara was clearly out-pitching Kevin Gregg last year, Gregg continued to get save opportunities due to the respect Showalter shows for experience. If Gregg struggles and Lindstrom pitches well, there could be a change in Baltimore, making Lindstrom a worthy fantasy option in deeper leagues. Intriguingly, in discussing the move Showalter made no mention of Gregg as a back-end-of-the-pen contender.
The rest of the transaction news this week has been pretty timid, but letâ€™s hit on all of them quickly:
Rick Ankiel was brought back by the Nationals on a Minor League deal, and I think this move has a lot more to do with Bryce Harper than anything else. If Harper is surprised with a roster spot out of Spring Training, consider Ankiel dead meat. But I donâ€™t see that happening, and Ankiel offers a nice power-speed combination that shouldnâ€™t cost you too much. He stole 10 bases last year to double his career output, and heâ€™ll never be a patient hitter at the plate, but if he can hit with power more consistently, he could raise that average to .250 and be a cheap source of homers as a part-time player.
Itâ€™s hard to believe that Hong-Chih Kuo had a 9.00 ERA last season, though his battle with a back injury and anxiety disorder left him far from 100 percent. But heâ€™s only 30 years old and is just a year removed from compiling 73 strikeouts in 60 innings with a 1.20 ERA, so itâ€™s hard to believe his career is done. He signed a one-year gig with the Mariners that could turn out to be the Joaquin-Benoit-steal-of-the-season if he can stay healthy and rediscover that magic.
Alfredo Aceves made his expected return to the Red Sox, and I canâ€™t help but feel bad for the guy. After making right around $1 million last year, youâ€™d think heâ€™d get a substantial raise while posting a 2.61 ERA over 114 innings. But instead he signed for just $1.2 million and will likely be heavily-relied-upon yet again on a Red Sox team that has major starting pitching concerns going into the season.
Having followed Aceves in Boston all season, I can tell you with 100 percent accuracy that the man is border-line insane. But heâ€™s also quite the pitcher, and I donâ€™t see any reason why he couldnâ€™t be extremely valuable again next season. And if the Sox donâ€™t get some more rotation help, Aceves could end up posting 140 innings. Iâ€™ll take it.
And lastly, Conor Jackson signed a one-year deal with the Rangers that includes an invite to Spring Training. Jackson was frustrated with the minimal interest he received from Major League teams and was forced to sign a Minor League contract. Heâ€™s been determined to prove that he deserves every-day playing time, but heâ€™s continued to struggle in limited roles and the Rangers should have little need for a low-power corner outfielder. That is, of course, unless Josh Hamilton continues to hit the bottle.