Rockies add an underrated arm in Jeremy Guthrie

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There’s nothing sexy about a 47-65 career record. Jeremy Guthrie has led the AL in losses twice and in homers allowed once. He’s never won even a dozen games or struck out more than 130 batters in a season. Still, the Rockies should be very happy to have him, especially for the modest price of Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom.

From 2009-11, nine full-time starting pitchers have left the AL East for greener pastures. All nine of them improved their ERAs immediately, and eight of the nine finished the next year with a superior ERA+, which adjusts for league and ballpark.

Here’s the list:

2008 Edwin Jackson (TB) – 4.42 ERA, 100 ERA+
2009 Edwin Jackson (Det) – 3.62 ERA, 126 ERA+

2008 Garrett Olson (Bal) – 6.60 ERA, 67 ERA+
2009 Garrett Olson (Sea) – 5.60 ERA, 77 ERA+ (11 starts, 20 relief appearances)

2009 Roy Halladay (Tor) – 2.79 ERA, 159 ERA+
2010 Roy Halladay (Phi) – 2.44 ERA, 167 ERA+

2009 Scott Kazmir (TB) – 5.92 ERA, 73 ERA+ (20 starts)
2009-10 Kazmir (LAA) – 5.12 ERA, 80 ERA+ (34 starts)

2009 Brad Penny (BOS) – 5.61 ERA, 84 ERA+ (24 starts)
2009-10 Penny (SF, STL) – 2.96 ERA, 141 ERA+ (15 starts)

2010 Matt Garza (TB) – 3.91 ERA, 100 ERA+
2011 Matt Garza (CHC) – 3.32 ERA, 118 ERA+

2010 Javier Vazquez (NYY) – 5.32 ERA, 81 ERA+
2011 Javier Vazquez (FL) – 3.69 ERA, 106 ERA+

2010 Shaun Marcum (Tor) – 3.64 ERA, 115 ERA+
2011 Shaun Marcum (Mil) – 3.54 ERA, 110 ERA+

2010 Kevin Millwood (Bal) – 5.10 ERA, 82 ERA+
2011 Kevin Millwood (Col) – 3.98 ERA, 113 ERA+ (9 starts)

Now, granted, there are some huge sample-size issues here. It might be worth throwing out Olson and Millwood entirely, given that Olson lost his spot in Seattle’s rotation and Millwood got only nine starts for the Rockies. But I didn’t try to further my point by including John Smoltz or Ian Kennedy, since they had received only limited action with Boston and New York, respectively.

Anyway, pitching in the AL East is simply a different beast, in my opinion. That’s especially the case for Orioles hurlers. Not only do they often have to face four offenses that have tended to range between good and great, but they have to do it half of the time in one of the league’s toughest home run parks.

Guthrie, for what it’s worth, had a 4.33 ERA and a 95 ERA+ last year. In 2010, he finished with a 3.83 ERA and a 119 ERA+. As a modest flyball pitcher going to Coors Field, his numbers probably aren’t in for much of a boost. In fact, in adjusting his Rotoworld projection today, I merely dropped his ERA from 4.38 right back to 4.33.

Still, that makes him a substantial upgrade in Colorado. The Rockies got a 4.73 ERA from their starters last year, and the group averaged only 5.8 innings per start. Guthrie has averaged 6.3 innings per start in his career, and he’s been doing it against the Red Sox and Yankees, not the Padres and Giants.

Oh good, it’s “Yasiel Puig is a showboat” season

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With the Los Angeles Dodgers punching their ticket to the World Series, Yasiel Puig is now going to be the subject of commentary by people who tend not to care about Yasiel Puig until it’s useful for them to write outraged columns or go on talk radio rants about baseball deportment.

We got a brief teaser of this last night when, after scoring the Dodgers’ ninth run on a Logan Forsythe double, TBS analyst Ron Darling criticized Puig for his “shenanigans” and “rubbing it in.” Never mind that his third base coach was waving him home and that, if he didn’t run hard, he was just as likely to be criticized for dogging it. In other news, baseball teams don’t stop trying in the fourth inning of baseball games, nor should they.

That was just an appetizer, though. The first real course of the “Puig is a problem” feast we’re likely to be served over the next week and a half comes from Phil Mushnick of the New York Post, who wrote it even before the Dodgers won Game 5 last night:

If you were raised to love baseball and to recognize the smart, winning kind from everything less, the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig is insufferable. As the sport is diminished by professionals who disregard the basic act of running to first base as a matter of style, Puig, an incurable home-plate poser, often makes turning doubles and triples into singles appear effortless . . . In the postseason, Puig continues to behave as if he’s in the Home Run Derby. He even seems to relish his high-risk flamboyant foolishness despite frequent backfires.

This may as well be a fill in the blanks column from 2013 or 2014, when “Puig is a flashy showboater who costs his team more than he gives it” columns were all the rage. It ignores the fact that Puig, commonly dinged for being lazy, worked his butt off in 2017, particularly on defense, to the point where he has a strong case for a Gold Glove this year. It also ignores his .455/.538/.727 line in the NLDS sweep of the Diamondbacks and his .389/.500/.611 line against the Cubs in the NLCS. In the regular season he set career highs for games, homers, RBI, stolen bases and almost set a career high for walks despite having seventy fewer plate appearances than he did back in 2013 when he walked 67 times. He’s not the MVP candidate some thought he might be, but he’s a fantastic player who has been a key part of the Dodgers winning their first pennant in 29 years.

But the dings on Puig from the likes of Mushnick have rarely been about production. They’ve simply been about style and the manner in which he’s carried himself. To the extent those issues were legitimate points of criticism — particularly his tardiness, his relationships with his teammates and his at times questionable dedication — they have primarily been in-house concerns for the Dodgers, not the casual fan like Mushnick. On that score the Dodgers have dealt with Puig and, by all accounts, Puig has responded pretty well. An occasional lapse to be sure, but nothing which makes him a greater burden than a benefit. I mean, if he was, would be be batting cleanup in a pennant-clinching game?

So if the beef with Puig is not really about baseball, what could Phil Mushnick’s issue with him possible be?

I, for one, have no idea whatsoever.