There has been much lamenting the loss of Jeremy Guthrie and a lot of head scratching regarding the return on the trade, but the fact is that Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom are Orioles now, so let's cross our fingers they play well and that Dan Duquette knows something we don't.
Andrew Fisher from Purple Row, the SB Nation Rockies blog, was kind enough to send us a few observations on the two newest Orioles. First up, Jason Hammel (Andrew's comments are in block quotes, mine are not):
Hammel is one of my favorite players to ever put on a Rockies' uniform. In a field where athletes are likely not even conscious during interviews, Hammel provides unique dry wit and self-deprecating honesty in interviews. His dorky humor is enough to make a fan chuckle even after a tough loss. When he pitches well, he says so. When he pitches like dog excrement, he says so. When he pitches well and is undone by rotten luck, he says that too. (He has one memorable quote about being undone by a 27-hop home run...an inside the parker that was grounded down the 1B line.)
If there is one thing we like here at Camden Chat, it's dorky humor. Hopefully we'll be laughing along with Hammel instead of throwing things at our TV.
He's a fascinating player to analyze, as his 2009 and 2010 seasons rank #1 and #2 in Rockies' franchise history in terms of K/BB rate. He hit a home run off Zack Greinke. As a fan of baseball analysis, he has been an ideal case study to parse through. His 2009 and 2010 were nearly identical seasons in every statistical way...except for an ERA of a half run higher in 2010. And yet in well over 700 IP, his career ERA is much much higher than his FIP/'xFIP etc.
If his career ERA is much higher than his FIP then he's basically the opposite of Jeremy Guthrie, who always performed better than his FIP. I guess there's hope that Hammel might even out here in Baltimore. I mean, we have to hope for something, don't we?
He tends to give up hits in bunches, and his inconsistency is maddening. He has essentially lost a rotation spot two years running. His strikeout rate (ranked 86 of 94 qualifying MLB pitchers in 2011) took a nose dive. His curveball, which was really exceptional in 2009, no longer got so many whiffs, leaving him unable to put batters away in 2011. It could be mental with him. On one occasion last season, he stopped his windup midmotion because he forgot what pitch he had just agreed to throw.
Well, that's encouraging.
He had a child born late last season, and he was lights out afterward (coincidence? who knows?). He also was on medication for a genetic health condition last year. Either way, he's a great guy to have in the clubhouse. It is just tough to know exactly what he will provide. He still has decent upside, but his peripherals took a huge hit last year. He is not on twitter, though his brother @Bill_Hammel is. I wrote Player Reviews for him in 2010 and 2011.
Interesting stuff on Hammel. As for Lindstrom:
Matt Lindstrom is a sexy bullpen option. He plays with fire and he throws fire. He will toss out 96mph consistently and had a career best effort in terms of control last season. He's a bit more of a skater dude personality and one case see he has the so-called "closer mentality." He was an exceptional find for Colorado in 2011, as they got him for two D prospects last off-season, and he panned out well with a 3.00 ERA. With that closer pedigree and big time cheese, one would expect high strikeout numbers. Yet of 129 relievers with 50+ IP last year, he ranked 110th with just 6.00. It was kind of strange. The upside seems to be there, but it just hasn't translated. Best case for Baltimore - he can be a legitimate closer. More likely, he's a decent middle reliever. Lindstrom is not on twitter. Our Jeff Aberle wrote a review of his 2011 season.
Lindstrom will likely be an asset to the bullpen, and hopefully he'll reach his potential. But given that he'll turn 32 years old next week, the fact that his upside hasn't translated to success yet is a bit troubling.
Thanks to Andrew for the insight! And here's hoping the Rockies can contend in 2012 so that Guts can get a taste of the playoffs.