Trade Tree: Jeremy Guthrie

Jeremy Guthrie just signed a three year, $25M deal with the Royals. MLBTradeRumors had predicted he would sign with the Pirates so that’s more than enough for me to consider this as semi-relevant. (Guthrie was also Pittsburgh’s third round draft pick in 2001 but did not sign.) Knowing the Pirates’ desire to improve the depth of the starting rotation, it’s likely they considered Guthrie as a possibility.

But that’s neither here nor there now that Jeremy has chosen to stay in Kansas City. How did the Royals get him?

He struggled hard in the thin air of Colorado — certainly not the first or last pitcher to do so. In KC, Guthrie turned back into exactly what was expected – a league average pitcher who can take his turn every time up. How did the Rockies get him?

Colorado traded the talented but inconsistent Jason Hammel, thinking they were getting the Guthrie that eventually showed up in Kansas City. Hammel had a breakout year for the upstart Orioles, becoming the pitcher the Rockies thought they were getting from the Rays at the start of the 2009 season. Man, it’s tough being a pitcher in Denver.

Just to complete the tale, how did the Orioles get him?

So that’s the story of Jeremy Guthrie: a consistently average pitcher twice traded by teams looking for a younger pitcher with a little more upside.

Series Preview: The Diamondbacks

Current record: 61-46, 2nd place in NL Central, 4.5 games back

Up Next: Arizona Diamondbacks, 55-53, 3rd place in NL West, 4.0 games back

Season Series: 2-1

Notes: The D-backs are hanging in the NL West race and have the best run differential (+32) in their division. Their moves at the deadline were trading 3B Ryan Roberts to Tampa Bay, acquiring 3B Chris Johnson from Houston and trading RP Craig Breslow to Boston for RP Matt Albers. They also recently got SS Stephen Drew back from injury. LF Jason Kubel and 1B Paul Goldschmidt have led the offense with OPS’s of .913 and .902.

Familiar Faces: None

Probable Pitchers
Monday: LH Wade Miley (12-6, 126.2 IP, 95 K, 2.98 ERA, 1.08 WHIP)
vs. LH Erik Bedard (5-12, 104.1 IP, 100 K, 4.83 ERA, 1.48 WHIP)

Miley was an All Star this year and has the numbers to back it up. Bedard starts for the second Monday in a row after having his turn pushed back again.

Tuesday: LH Patrick Corbin (3-4, 45.0 IP, 35 K, 3.60 ERA, 1.27 WHIP)
vs. RH Jeff Karstens (4-2, 56.0 IP, 42 K, 3.70 ERA, 1.20 WHIP)

Karstens pitched very well in his last start, but wasn’t very efficient and only went 5 innings. He’ll look to stretch that out farther this time.

Wednesday: RH Ian Kennedy (10-8, 141.0 IP, 123 K, 4.15 ERA, 1.29 WHIP)
vs. RH Kevin Correia (8-6, 110.1 IP, 52 K, 4.49 ERA, 1.31 WHIP)

Well, look who’s back. Correia gets a spot start after being bumped from the rotation for Wandy Rodriguez. Kennedy was a Cy Young candidate last year but has returned to his expected level of production this season.

Thursday: LH Joe Saunders (5-8, 113.1 IP, 79 K, 3.57 ERA, 1.32 WHIP)
vs. LH Wandy Rodriguez (7-10, 143.2 IP, 98 K, 3.82 ERA, 1.28 WHIP)

Wandy was okay Friday vs Cincinnati, but Pirate fans are looking for him to step it up and dominate in his third start for the club.

No lineups yet.

Weekend Wrap Up 4/15/12

Scores:
Friday: 5-0 Loss at San Francisco. Matt Cain dominates. Recap. Box score.
Saturday: 4-3 Loss at San Francisco. Close game falls apart in the ninth. Recap. Box score.
Sunday: 4-1 Win at San Francisco. Finally, a solid game. Recap. Box score.

Season Record: 3-6, 5th place in the NL Central.

Good: Another good start from Kevin Correia breaks the five game losing streak. Charlie Morton looks to be in good health in his season debut. Neil Walker with two two-hit days.
Bad: Two shaky outings from Joel Hanrahan. Chris Resop wasn’t sharp but the defense let him down. Jose Tabata went 0-9 and left 7 men on base.

Combined Box:

Pittsburgh      AB      R      H      RBI      BB      SO      LOB
Presley, LF 13 1 3 1 1 4 2
Walker, 2B 11 1 4 2 0 3 0
McCutchen, A, CF 11 2 2 0 1 1 2
McGehee, 1B 9 2 2 0 0 1 2
Tabata, RF 9 0 0 0 0 3 7
Jones, G, 1B, RF 7 1 2 1 0 4 0
Harrison, 3B, SS 7 0 1 1 0 0 3
Barmes, SS 7 0 1 0 0 1 3
Barajas, C 6 0 0 0 1 0 0
Alvarez, 3B 6 0 0 0 0 5 1
McDonald, J, P 2 0 1 0 0 0 0
Navarro, PH 2 0 0 0 0 1 4
Correia, P 2 0 0 0 0 1 3
Morton, P 2 0 0 0 0 1 0
McKenry, C 1 0 0 0 3 1 0
McLouth, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 2
Hague, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 97 7 16 5 6 26 29

Batting:
Triples: Harrison (1)
Homers: Jones (1)

Baserunning:
SB: Tabata (2), Jones (1)
CS: McCutchen (2)

Fielding:
Errors: Morton (1), Barmes 2 (2)

Pittsburgh      IP      H      R      ER      BB      SO      HR
Correia(W, 1-0) 6.0 3 1 1 1 2 0
McDonald, J (L, 0-1) 5.7 6 3 3 3 1 0
Morton 5.0 7 3 3 0 2 0
Hanrahan(S, 1) 2.0 2 2 2 2 1 1
Grilli(H, 1) 2.0 1 0 0 1 3 0
Watson 1.3 1 0 0 0 0 0
Hughes, J(H, 1) 1.0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Cruz, J 1.0 0 0 0 2 1 0
Meek 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Resop (L, 0-1) 0.0 2 1 0 1 0 0
Totals 25.0 23 10 9 10 10 1

Transactions: Activated RHP Charlie Morton from the 15-day Disabled List. Optioned 1B Matt Hague to AAA Indianapolis.

Up Next: A three game set in Arizona ends the road trip. Expected matchups: Erik Bedard (0-2) vs. Joe Saunders (0-0), Jeff Karstens (0-1) vs. Ian Kennedy (2-0), and James McDonald (0-1) vs. Daniel Hudson (1-0).

More Tough Matchups On The Horizon

The Pirates have scored 11 runs in six games. An average of 1.83 runs/game. The team batting average is .199. What do you expect when a team of average (at best) bats faces some of the best pitchers in the league? Here are the opponents’ starting pitchers for the Pirates’ first twelve games.

vs. Roy Halladay, 1-0 L

vs. Cliff Lee, 2-1 W
vs. Vance Worley, 5-4 W
vs. Clayton Kershaw, 2-1 L
vs. Chad Billingsley, 4-1 L
vs. Chris Capuano, 3-2 L
vs. Ian Kennedy
vs. Daniel Hudson (*not announced yet, my projection.)

And here are the results of last year’s NL Cy Young award voting (from baseball reference):

Rank Tm Vote Pts 1st Place Share WAR W L ERA SV IP ER BB SO WHIP
1 Clayton Kershaw LAD 207.0 27.0 92% 7.0 21 5 2.28 0 233.1 59 54 248 0.977
2 Roy Halladay PHI 133.0 4.0 59% 7.4 19 6 2.35 0 233.2 61 35 220 1.040
3 Cliff Lee PHI 90.0 0.0 40% 6.9 17 8 2.40 0 232.2 62 42 238 1.027
4 Ian Kennedy ARI 76.0 1.0 34% 5.5 21 4 2.88 0 222.0 71 55 198 1.086
5 Cole Hamels PHI 17.0 0.0 8% 5.4 14 9 2.79 0 216.0 67 44 194 0.986
6 Tim Lincecum SFG 7.0 0.0 3% 4.4 13 14 2.74 0 217.0 66 86 220 1.207
7 Yovani Gallardo MIL 5.0 0.0 2% 2.7 17 10 3.52 0 207.1 81 59 207 1.215
8 Matt Cain SFG 3.0 0.0 1% 3.9 12 11 2.88 0 221.2 71 63 179 1.083
9 John Axford MIL 2.0 0.0 1% 2.7 2 2 1.95 46 73.2 16 25 86 1.140
9 Craig Kimbrel ATL 2.0 0.0 1% 3.0 4 3 2.10 46 77.0 18 32 127 1.039
11 Madison Bumgarner SFG 1.0 0.0 0% 2.8 13 13 3.21 0 204.2 73 46 191 1.212
11 Ryan Vogelsong SFG 1.0 0.0 0% 3.7 13 7 2.71 0 179.2 54 61 139 1.252
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/11/2012.

The Pirates face six of the ten starting pitchers to get votes as the best pitcher in the National League last year. When does it get easier? Matt Cain‘s one of the best pitchers in the league, Daniel Hudson has nasty stuff. Ian Kennedy broke out in a big way. Last year Ryan Vogelsong struck out 8 in 5.2 innings against the Pirates in the first start of his comeback year. The much-maligned Barry Zito threw a complete game shutout in Colorado in his  last start. Joe Saunders threw seven shutout innings in his first start of the year.

Seriously, the Pirates could easilty be looking at a 4-8 record when this stretch is over. If they want to be better, then:

1) Their own pitching needs to keep up the good work. Allowing only 2.5 runs/game has kept the Pirates in every game so far.
2) The bats need to find a way to string some hits together. Also, take some more walks. You can be selective while still being aggressive. Seven walks in six games is woeful.

Let’s hope they pick it up this weekend in San Francisco. The Pirates starters are slated to be James McDonald, Charlie Morton (season debut) and Kevin Correia. I’ll see you Monday with the Weekend Wrapup.

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