Kansas City Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie delivers a pitch against the Chicago White Sox Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE

We Won't Get Fooled Again

Jeremy Guthrie at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE

I can already see it. Dayton Moore made the statement several weeks ago that that the Royals will be going after pitching in the offseason (and for a while it looked like maybe at the trade deadline). We are promised some “real” pitching will be brought in. Here’s the part where they try to tell us Jeremy Guthrie is that real pitcher.

Well, let’s not be fooled by Guthrie’s recent hot streak, and more importantly, by the front office this winter when they tell us a big part of the rotation fix is Guthrie. He’s not top of the rotation talent. No way. Granted…he’s better than what we’ve seen here in a little while, but Guthrie is not the solution. The solution is bringing in a couple of guys who are at minimum number two starters in a rotation (in a REAL rotation – not in a typical Royals rotation).

I don’t mean to be completely down on Dayton Moore and David Glass – actually, I am completely down on Glass, but not Moore – there are some positives in the Guthrie situation.

The first positive is after we had given up on Jonathan Sanchez, and were ready to walk away; Moore was actually able to get someone to give the Royals something in exchange for Sanchez. I know…I couldn’t believe it either. I can’t even pull deals like that with the worst owner in my fantasy league. So we swapped out Sanchez for Guthrie, and landed a veteran guy who has had some success in the big leagues. And not just success against bad teams, but was good pitching against the lineups in the AL East. That’s a major victory for Moore, and helped our pitching staff tremendously this year. So we’ve got that going for us…which is nice.

The second positive is, going back to what I just said, the fact that this guy has had some great success against a tough division. In a rotation that features Luke Hochevar, Bruce Chen, and Luis Mendoza; Guthrie becomes the instant ace. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling him an ACE, but he’s the Royals ace, which is sad, but at the same time, adding a guy who is better than all your other starters can’t totally be a bad thing.

All that said, here is where Dayton Moore will fly us into the danger zone. He promised a fixed up rotation. And I don’t doubt for one second that Moore wants to fix the rotation and win…whether Glass will put up the cash is another story. So Moore, with his hands somewhat tied, will tell us (I can hear it now), “We really like what Jeremy brings to the table. He’s a solid veteran and great clubhouse guy, and we believe he will be a real contributor to the development and success of this team moving forward.” Then he will tell us that Guthrie could be our guy on opening day in 2013, blah, blah, blah. Nothing we haven’t heard before.

Here’s the thing – I agree with that, to a degree. He can be a part of the rotation. He can contribute, and he can probably be pretty good. He cannot, however, be a number one starter on a contender. Or a number two. He can possibly be a three, if Moore lands two pitchers who CAN be a one or two. Personally I would rather see him as a four, with Hochevar and Chen gone, but there’s a lot of work that would have to go into one offseason to make that happen.

Here’s the thing…we all know Glass will sabotage Dayton’s offseason by giving him pennies to work with on the free agent market. On top of that, we’ve already got Chen on the payroll next year, and I imagine they will bring Luke back as well (unfortunately). So if Guthrie is given a deal like that, the Royals are stuck. We know they will only spend so much on the free agent market, so why throw a big chunk of what the team can afford at a guy who ideally is no better than a three? It doesn’t make sense.

Don’t let this hot streak fool you, and don’t be thrilled when, because of this hot streak, Moore offers Guthrie a two year contract at $8.5 million per year.Guthrie is on fire, no doubt. Since coming to KC, he’s been the best starting pitcher on the mound since

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Luke Hochevar throws a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Zack Greinke left town. Guthrie has gone 39 innings in six starts. He’s got a 3.23 ERA, 1.026 WHIP, and he striking out 7.2 batters per nine innings, while walking less than two. That’s all great, and that’s the kind of pitching we need to win this division. But don’t be fooled. This guy is not peaking at age 33. He’s not going to repeat these numbers.

I know, you’re thinking, “But he had some great years in Baltimore” (with the exception of one bad year where he posted an ERA of more than 5). Maybe he can repeat one or two of those years, especially in spacious Kauffman Stadium. But the facts are he’s not a high strikeout/low walk pitcher. He’s a career 5.5 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 guy. That’s about two less strikeouts and a full walk more than what he’s averaging for the Royals. That’s not bad…but it’s not really swing and miss stuff. We need game changers at the front end, not Guthrie.

I’m not saying the guy is garbage (he’s far from it), and god bless DM for getting him for Sanchez, but do you want Dayton’s efforts to fix this rotation to fall on Guthrie? I don’t.

And of course, the publishing of this article comes just after Luke Hochevar throws a gem…can’t you hear it now? Dayton Moore is on the radio, once again telling Kansas City that Hochevar made an adjustment and has turned a corner. That Luke and Guthrie will lead the Kansas City rotation to the Promised Land. I’ve heard this before in regards to Hochevar, and I’m not buying. Not on either pitcher. Not this time.

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Tags: Jeremy Guthrie Kansas City Royals Luke Hochevar

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