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Acquired RHPs Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom from the Rockies for RHP Jeremy Guthrie. [2/6]
Designated LHP Clay Rapada for assignment. [2/6]

Trading Guthrie for Hammel teeters on being a lateral move, and it still might be, depending on whether you feel Lindstrom is worth the additional money the Orioles will have to pay to their new pitchers.

Guthrie and Hammel are the keys to the deal. Comparing them head-to-head over the past three seasons, Guthrie has more innings (about 100), while Hammel owns the edge in strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.34 to 2.04) and adjusted-earned run average (100 to 98). Hammel did survive Coors Field, though Guthrie cut his teeth in the American League East.

Hammel, a 6-foot-6 righty, comes at batters with a heavy low-90s fastball and a rudimentary selection of secondary stuff. He will not become a free agent until after the 2013 season, so the Orioles gain a year of control while losing on the durability front. Without a 180-plus innings season to his name, it’s hard to peg Hammel to become the staff workhorse that Guthrie had been, but on a performance basis, the two could wind up with comparable Wins Above Replacement Player totals.

Buster Olney passed along a note on Twitter suggesting the O’s moved Guthrie after contentious contract talks. The validity of that proposed motive is unknown, but the peculiar nature of the Orioles return—seasoned major-leaguers, as opposed to prospects—makes it difficult to rule anything out. Dan Duquette has since said that no team was willing to deal prospects for Guthrie, and there are reports out there that Eric Young Jr.’s name came up during talks.

The other piece of the O’s return, Lindstrom, is a hard-thrower that bounced back after two disappointing seasons split between Florida and Houston. Lindstrom has a club option for the 2013 season, so perhaps the Orioles can deal him to a contender at the deadline, should he stay hearty and hale.

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Signed RHP Shawn Camp to a one-year deal. [2/6]
Signed LHP Hong-Chih Kuo to a one-year deal. [2/6]

Designated C-R Chris Gimenez and OF-R Mike Wilson for assignment. [2/6]

You have to credit Camp for hanging on this long. Drafted in the 16th-round in 1997, Camp is a small righty with a high-80s sinker and platoon splits to back it up. Pitchers with that profile are common, making Camp’s survival after a rough start in the majors (230 2/3 innings and a 5.27 earned run average over his first four seasons) all the more puzzling, but he has turned things around since landing with the Jays in 2008 (257 2/3 innings and a 3.63 earned run average). Camp can frustrate when his groundballs bleed through the infield or his manager neglects to micromanage his appearances, but he has a place in a big-league bullpen so long as the sinker keeps working.

After spending most of last season dealing with anxiety issues, Kuo’s status for the 2012 season was up in the air. It appears he will try pitching, though, ostensibly representing a positive development in his mental health. Few left-handed relievers are better when Kuo is healthy, but his throwing elbow is a constant problem that has left him alternating between full and injury-shortened workloads over the past six seasons. Hope, for Kuo’s sake, if nothing else, that his 2012 season includes much success—both on and off the field.

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Signed 1B/OF-R Conor Jackson and LHP Joe Beimel to minor-league deals. [2/6]

Not many players with Jackson’s career can boast his name value. Jackson has straddled the replacement level line since 2009, having tallied a career-high 2.1 Win Above Replacement Player in 2008. To write that Jackson fell off the cliff is being too kind, as his performances were never that great to begin with, and his next season in which he contributes more than one win will be the second best of his big-league career.

Jackson’s recent efforts have resulted in a .232/.312/.323 line, and the former first-round pick turns 30 in May. Opportunities are beginning to run out for Jackson to prove that he can put the bat on the ball well enough to post a respectable batting average and, thereby, tolerable lines. Shy of that, Jackson can keep Brad Hawpe company at the lunch table reserved for first basemen on their last legs.

Beimel will get a chance to be the left-handed reliever in the Rangers’ bullpen, although he bombed last season in Pittsburgh—a sad development given that Beimel looks as if he used to work alongside Long John Silver.

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Designated UTL-L Blake Dewitt for assignment. [2/6]
Claimed UT-L Adrian Cardenas off waivers from the Athletics. [2/6]

Dewitt rattled off a fine rookie season as a 22-year-old in 2008 and has seen his stock plummet since. Now 26, Dewitt could find himself in his third organization over the past 24 months. With a lefty bat and the chops to play the keystone and the hot corner, Dewitt fits the bill as a decent body to have on the bench. Add in the contact ability and the occasional walk, and you can almost overlook his lack of pop. There are, however, oddities in Dewitt’s game worthy of inspection.

Take Dewitt’s platoon splits. Throughout Dewitt’s four-year big-league career, his overall numbers versus lefties dwarf his numbers against righties. That tends to go in reverse, and it does not look like Dewitt is the rare exception. Rather, Dewitt’s big 2011 season (36 plate appearances, a .406/.472/.625 line) is buoying his career lefty-on-lefty violence. The larger sample comes against righties, and if you buy into putting more weight into the larger sample (and you should), then souring on Dewitt’s likelihood of being a worthwhile hitter is understandable, and that makes him just another fringe utility player.

Speaking of which, Cardenas is another left-handed hitter with experience all over the diamond. Sometimes that is a good thing; other times, not so much. The former first-round pick, who came to the A’s via the Joe Blanton trade, used to be a second baseman and still received some time at the position in 2011, but he spent most of the year in left field. Given Cardenas’s offensive profile (.290/.349/.387 in about 1,000 career Triple-A plate appearances), he needs to be able to play a passable second or third base to be worthy of a bench spot. The A’s deemed him less worthy of a 40-man roster spot than Eric Sogard and Adam Rosales, so Cubs fans should celebrate with caution.

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Acquired RHP Jeremy Guthrie from the Orioles for RHPs Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom. [2/6]

Fourteen starting pitchers have tallied at least 200 innings in each season since 2009, and Guthrie might be the most unassuming of the bunch*. Blame the Orioles. No, really, blame the Orioles. They staked Guthrie to a 30-48 record over the past three seasons despite more than half of his starts having been deemed quality outings. Add in the Orioles’ irrelevancy nationwide, and Guthrie’s lack of exposure makes sense.

Statistically, Guthrie combines pedestrian strikeout and groundball rates, which make him a worrisome fit in Coors Field, even if the league and division change will help. One thing that should not be as big of a concern is the supposed downward trend present in Guthrie’s control indicators. Factor out intentional walks (Guthrie set a career-high in 2011) and in hit batsman (he plunked 16 in 2010), and the results are less conductive to finding patterns:













Dan O’Dowd has acquired an assorted bunch to fight it out for rotation slots, and Guthrie is one of the few who appear ensured gigs. Having a proven and repeated 200-inning workhorse in the rotation is beneficial to any team, particularly when there are so many question marks. There is no need to overstate what Guthrie appears to be—a two or so win pitcher—but you can see why O’Dowd would trade Hammel’s extra year of control for more of a sure thing, particularly if he thinks his team has a chance to contend this year.

*Said bunch: Guthrie, Matt Cain, Ryan Dempster, Mark Buehrle, Roy Halladay, Dan Haren, Felix Hernandez, Cliff Lee, Tim Lincecum, CC Sabathia, James Shields, Justin Verlander, and Jered Weaver, and Randy Wolf.

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Signed OF-L Rick Ankiel and 3B-L Mark Teahen to minor-league deals [2/5, 2/6]

The Nats inked a pair of falling stars this week to serve as camp bodies. Ankiel re-signs for his second tour of duty with Washington after inking a one-year, $1.5 million deal last offseason. A not-so-fun fact about Ankiel: he hit 25 home runs in 2008 and has gone yard just 26 times since. Teahen fell shy of 200 plate appearances for the first time in his big-league career last season, thanks in part to a strained oblique. Defensively, he isn’t fit for third base, and offensively he isn’t fit for first base or the corner outfield.

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The rumor is that Cardenas was brought on to start at second base and push Darwin Barney to a utility role.
While putting Barney in a utility role may not be a bad thing, doing it by replacing him with a worse player seems a poor plan.
Cardenas's minor league pedigree is better than Barney's, Cardenas is younger in general and won't hit arbitration for longer.
I agree Cardenas should at least push Barney to more platoon time but I thought the same for DeWitt. I thought the Cubs had nice platoon sets at 2B and 3B using Baker and DeWitt but now it may be Baker and Cardenas. Less Barney would be a plus for the offense IMHO.
DeWitt could have pushed Barney but the Cubs didn't really use him as a platoon. Barney had a hot April and was considered "gritty" enough where DeWitt never got back into the fold.

It reminds me of that quote in BP that bad teams focus on what a player can't do and good teams utilize what a player can do.
I believe that goes back to at least Bill James.
Guthrie is something of a poor man's Mark Buehrle. He was a good Oriole, and I am sure Buehrle's payday made things harder on the Orioles in negotiations. But any organization that really needs the stability that Guthrie brings won't trade prospects. I know I would not.

Hammel reduces the headaches for the front office, and increases them for the manager and training staff. It just buys them a year before they have to solve the problem of Hammel departing. It doesn't move the team closer to .500 ball.