Trade Bait: Jeremy Guthrie

Jeremy Guthrie of the Baltimore Orioles pitches against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

In 1934, New York Giants manager Bill Terry, referring to his cross-city rival, famously said, "Is Brooklyn still in the League?", meaning, of course, that the Dodgers were an afterthought on the Giants' run to the pennant.

The Giants didn't win the 1934 pennant, but the Dodgers remained a losing team for five more seasons.

That's about where the Baltimore Orioles are today, only worse. They won the AL East in 1997 with a 98-win season. That was their last winning year, and they have lost 92 or more games for five straight years. Thus, a casual observer might indeed wonder if they're still in the league. The 2011 version has at least one decent young pitcher in Zack Britton, and a revitalized J.J. Hardy leading its offense, but otherwise Baltimore is a collection of the proverbial has-beens and never-weres, apart from Matt Wieters and Nick Markakis, and Markakis is having a down season.

And then there's Jeremy Guthrie. Guthrie was the No. 1 pick of the Indians in 2002 (22nd overall pick) and rose to be Baseball America's No. 53 overall prospect by 2004. In three cups of coffee in Cleveland from 2004-2006, he did not distinguish himself and was waived, and claimed by the Orioles, where it seems many waiver claims go to slowly fade away (I'd have said "die", but it would only have been a metaphorical death).

About the best thing you can say about his tenure in Baltimore is that he's made most of his starts and has only had one stint on the disabled list, in 2008. He's had some back issues this year but has avoided any DL time -- thus far. He is currently leading the American League... in losses, and his ERA has gone up by a full run since the end of May.

Guthrie is 32. If he were lefthanded, it's likely teams would be lining up to slobber over him, because lefthanded pitchers are always in demand. For an example of this, you need look no further than this year's Cubs, who gave Doug Davis nine starts -- only one of which was any good -- largely because he's a southpaw.

But Guthrie is a righthander. Although he had a decent (111 ERA+) season in 2010, his ERA and ERA+ are far worse this year and his WHIP jumped from 1.16 to 1.32 this season. There are teams desperate for starting pitching and it's possible that someone might contact the Orioles about Guthrie, particularly the Red Sox, who are just one starting pitcher away from having their entire Opening Day rotation spend at least some time on the DL this year. Buster Olney (via MLB Trade Rumors) wrote about just the tiniest amount of interest in Guthrie:

The Orioles are having an internal debate about whether or not to trade Jeremy Guthrie, but they are expected to at least listen to offers.

So most likely, Guthrie will continue to toil in anonymity in Baltimore. His baseball-reference page indicates he's made about $10 million in his major league career, nice money for a guy who's never been much above league average, even though he posted 4.3 WAR a year ago.

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