Jeremy Guthrie Visits MLB Fan Cave

Jeremy Guthrie made use of his off-time in New York by stopping by MLB’s Fan Cave and answering a few questions from O’s fans.

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Off To A Good Start

After the Brian Matusz news this afternoon I’m sure the spirits of O’s fans were a bit down heading into the opener. 3+ hours later those frowns are upside down after a 4-1 victory over the division rival Rays.

The Good:

Jeremy Guthrie – You might not have been able to script a better start to the season for Guthrie than the 8 inning, 3 hit, 1 walk, 6 strikeout, and 0 ER outing he threw tonight. He mixed up his pitches well, was aggressive in the strike zone, and stayed ahead of hitters all night.

Brian Roberts – Had a key at bat in the 5th inning when he hit a triple that scored Wieters and Hardy. The most impressive thing about the at bat wasn’t even the hit itself. Watching him fight off pitches to keep the at bat alive is exactly what you want to see from your leadoff hitter. I’m sure I, along with many, watched Roberts rounding the bases wondering if we we would see him pull up due to those lingering back issues he had been fighting all spring. Test passed. He looked great rounding bases, a good sign for both Showalter and his fantasy owners.

Nick Markakis – In the third inning, like Roberts in the 5th, he worked Price into giving him a pitch he could handle and hit a clutch 2-out single to give the Birds a 1-0 lead. A great job of situational hitting in the 5th saw him lift the ball into the outfield over a drawn in infield for a sacrifice fly that plated the fourth and final run.

The Bad:

Not much. J.J. Hardy had the only walk of the evening. The Orioles struck out 7 times against David Price, but he finished 8th in the AL last year with 188 so that was probably expected. Jim Johnson gave up a leadoff homer to Ben Zobrist in the bottom of the 9th, but he came back and recorded the next two batters via strikeout before getting Manny Ramirez to ground out to Hardy to end the game.

Good start to a season that started with optimism coming out of spring training. Looks like the O’s are picking up where they left of last season after Buck Showalter took over. More of this please.

Notes:

Brittany Ghiroli, from mlb.com, reported that Matusz will be headed to the DL with a back strain. So we’ll see Tillman on the mound tomorrow in game two and Zach Britton will make his much anticipated debut on Sunday.

Rotation Taking Shape

On Thursday we learned what the Orioles rotation will look like to start the season, well part of it anyway. Despite an up and down spring Jeremy Guthrie, to no one’s surprise, will start the opener this Friday against Tampa Bay. It will be the third time in the last four years Guthrie will get the ball to get the season started.

24 year-old left-hander Brian Matusz will get the start on Saturday and second-year starter Jake Arrieta will get the ball on Monday in the home opener against Detroit. On starting in front of the home fans Arrieta said, “Everybody’s going to be excited for the 2011 season. I plan on going out there and showing them what we’re capable of doing this year.”

The spot for Sunday’s game is still up in the area and Showalter is believed to be deciding between Chris Tillman, Brad Bergesen, and top pitching prospect Zach Britton. Britton took an interesting approach to the news that he’s still in contention for starting the season in the rotation, “Obviously I don’t have the experience of the other guys, but I haven’t had the opportunity. Until I get that chance, I’m always going to be the guy without experience.” His time of no longer getting that chance will almost certainly end this season, it’s just a matter of when. Even if he’s not on the opening day roster there aren’t many that believe that he won’t be called up at some point this season.

Due to continued soreness in the hip he had off-season surgery on, it looks like Justin Duchscherer will start the season on the DL. That would give two of the three starters listed above with a shot at being in the rotation, atleast for a short time. The hope is that Justin will be back towards the end of April to take over as the fifth starter.

There’s still a few days left for Showalter to brainstorm about the remaining pieces to his rotation puzzle, but we’ve got more of an idea of what it will look like than we had a week ago. With the injury track record of Duchscherer I would imagine that this won’t be the only time this season we’ll hear about someone filling in for his spot in the rotation so the shuffling may not be completely over yet.

Guthrie Looks Ready for Opening Day

Jeremy Guthrie made a start today against Minnesota Twins minor leaguers and, by all accounts, looked sharp. In six innings he gave up one run on four hits, struck out four, and walked none. Of his 82 pitches, 56 went for strikes. It seems weird for me to say that a start against minor league players was important for the likely opening day starter for the O’s, but it was. The last time Guthrie had a record over .500 was back in 2007 when he went 7-5. Since then, he’s gone 10-12, 10-17, and 11-14. With this year’s rotation looking set to to include many of the young arms of the O’s future, Guthrie’s job as “staff ace” could be more important than ever.

Although Buck Showalter still has not yet officially named his starter for Opening Day in Tampa, the consensus around Sarasota is that it will be Jeremy Guthrie once again. With only one more possible start before the season starts April 1st, today was his next-to-last last chance to fine tune mechanics and make sure everything is right before games matter for real. His previous start before this one was against Boston Red Sox minor leagues, so for two straight starts he’s faced minor league bats and talent to end the spring.

After last season’s turn around under Showalter, I’m going to trust his call on this one. Personally I’d like to see the potential opening day starter facing major league bats to get ready, but I understand building his confidence also. Guthrie had this to say after today’s start, “I was working on the execution of pitches, working on a couple of sequences. I felt a lot better today. I felt strong throughout the outing.” After his last start, these were encouraging words, so I’ll take it.

In his last start against Red Sox minor leaguers he noticeably got tired towards the end of his day, and that’s when he started to get knocked around a bit. His stamina appears to be getting better, which could be key with a revamped bullpen and a starting rotation around him that’s short on major league experience, which could lead to some taxing on the middle relievers at various points throughout the season. He will be needed to go 7+ innings on most nights, a number he came very close to last season. In 32 starts he threw 209.1 innings an average of 6.5 inning per start.

In his interview with Lisa Kerney in MLB Network’s Orioles season preview Guthrie talked about “using all four of his pitches this season and not just relying on two or three, as well as being aggressive within the strike zone so he’s working ahead more in the count to put hitters at a disadvantage” when he was asked what he had been working on this spring training. He also addressed his role as leader/mentor as the veteran of the rotation. Signs are pointing to Guthrie having a good season and being the leader Buck Showalter needs him to be. Let’s hope spring success turns into regular season success.

Dead Horse Topics

Over the course of the season, the same issues with the team or certain players go on and on through out the year. I think the issue needs addressing, to realize that I had done several posts on it already. So here’s a few topics I’m swearing off til season’s end. If something big happens with said issue, then I’ll swear it off.

  • Daniel Cabrera is an inconsistent pitcher. I know this. You know this. He’s great one night and the next he’s terrible. Newsflash…he throws a lot balls. He is what he is and I’m not doing the “Maybe he turned the corner” post and next week do the “He stinks” post. No sir, not gonna do it.
  • The O’s need a shortstop. It’s been a revolving door all season and none of them have been any good. Juan Castro hasn’t been awful and he plays good defense. He’s 36 though, so he’s no longterm solution. Brandon Fahey, Luis Hernandez, Eider Torres, Alex Cintron, Freddie Bynum….blah. This is will get dealt with in the offseason and at this point in the season, there’s no reason to get worked up into a lather over it.
  • Besides Jeremy Guthrie, the rotation is pretty bad. Guthrie and Cabrera are the last two men standing from the opening day rotation. Steve Trachsel has ridden off into the good night, Adam Loewen is learning a new trade, Garrett Olson took too many lumps and will toil his craft in the bullpen or Norfolk. So it’s Guthrie, Cabrera, Chris Waters, ____ _______, and _____ _______. The starting pitching is going to give up some runs….a lot some nights because it’s not a major league rotation. A lot of the organizational pitching talent is at AA or A level. MacPhail doesn’t want to rush them as prior adminstrations have so we’re seeing some warm bodies and possibly a few come up who could have some talent (Bergesen or the snakebitten Penn). It’s another lost season is Baltimore, why sake some pitchers future for rushing some kids up for the sake of bringing them up.
  • Do bring up Matt Wieters/Don’t bring Matt Wieters up. For record, I’m in the Don’t Bring up Matt Wieters camp. Bring him to Spring Training next season and he’ll make the team no doubt. This is his first year in professional baseball. It’s a longer season and he’s got stuff to learn. Let him crush it and have a fat year in the minors. He’s fast track anyway… I don’t see the point in rushing him to see him this season.

Joke Time with Dan O’Dowd

I was checking out Ken Rosenthal’s column today, hoping to see some good trade rumors and I saw this laugher.

Earlier this week, the Rockies took a run at Orioles right-hander Jeremy Guthrie, offering infielder Clint Barmes, but the O’s had no interest in trading their best pitcher.

Here’s the link.

Would I mind a trade for Clint_Barmes? He’ll be better than the rag tag bunch of dimestore mercenaries that the O’s have employed at short thus far. Barmes is close to 30, has been quite familiar with the DL, doesn’t_know_how_to_handle_deer_meat, and is quite medicore. If he was to be trade for say either Jay Payton or Jamie Walker plus a prospect….I’d be fine with that. The Rockies wouldn’t.

I don’t blame Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd for aiming high, but this is skyhigh. To ask a team with pitching problems for their best pitcher for a bland stopgap shortstop is laughable. Jeremy Guthrie’s a great pitcher and to give him up, its going to have be for something more than just Clint Barmes. Who does O’Dowd think Andy MacPhail is? Bill Bavasi?

Ha.