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10 Prospects That the Orioles Could Have Acquired for Jeremy Guthrie

Zachary BallAnalyst IFebruary 10, 2012

10 Prospects That the Orioles Could Have Acquired for Jeremy Guthrie

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    It seems safe to say, at least for Orioles fans, that the team didn't get enough in return for their stable (former) ace, Jeremy Guthrie.

    Team executive vice president Dan Duquette insisted that the team didn't get any offers of prospects for Guthrie, and while that very well may be the case, getting two older players with very little upside just hasn't sat well with O's fans.

    The consensus seems to be that, just maybe, the O's were asking for too much, and perhaps, if they had lowered their standards, they could have ended up pulling a deal for any number of mid-level prospects. Heck, if the Padres could get Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal and Brad Boxberger for Mat Latos, he of 27 career victories, it seems odd that Guthrie, he of 40 victories in the past four seasons, couldn't even muster one prospect.

    Need I remind you that Guthrie won 40 games...for the Orioles! That's like winning 80 in four seasons for the Yankees or Phillies.

    Here are a few prospects who I would think could have been acquired if the effort to shop Guthrie had been more determined.

Kent Matthes, OF, Colorado Rockies

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    Let's start with the team who ended up on the receiving end of Guthrie's services: the Rockies.

    It seems hard to believe that they Orioles couldn't extract even a mid-level prospect like Kent Matthes. The 25-year-old outfielder had a terrific year in 2011, hitting .334 with 23 homers and 95 RBI, but it was an effort that was no doubt bolstered by the high altitudes of the hitter-friendly California League. Look to his previous two seasons for a better feel of what kind of hitter Matthes is: six homers, 46 RBI in 320 at-bats.

    Matthes isn't particularly a strong athlete and is limited to playing right field. He doesn't offer much speed, and his plate discipline (48-to-189 BB:K) is lacking, to say the least.

    Furthermore, Matthes is in an organization that has several outfielders with better tools and higher ceilings, including Charlie Blackmon, Kyle Parker, Corey Dickerson and Tim Wheeler.

    It seems likely that the Orioles would have wanted Matthes plus someone else, most likely a proven big-leaguer, but it's hard to believe he was off the table completely.

Justin Grimm, RHP, Texas Rangers

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    Even with the addition of Yu Darvish to an emaciated rotation that has lost Cliff Lee and C.J. Wilson the past two seasons, the Rangers could have used an arm like Guthrie's. Is there anyone who seriously thinks that he would be a 17-game loser with the Rangers' offense? Doubtful.

    The Rangers also happen to be in possession of something that the Orioles want: Koji Uehara. Uehara himself has appeared eager to return to Camden Yards, despite the negative PR it would likely cause Texas, who shipped two players to Baltimore for him last season. Even if the Rangers held on to Uehara, they have one of the deepest farm systems in baseball, and it seems odd to think there wouldn't be a player, or two, that the sides could both agree on.

    What about Justin Grimm? The polished right-hander from Virginia would be right at home in the Orioles farm system. He's still a few years away from reaching the majors, assuming he does, after spending the 2011 season splitting time between Low-A Hickory and High-A Myrtle Beach. He struck out 127 in 140.2 innings and finished the year with a 3.39 ERA.

    He doesn't have a ceiling that's as high as some of the Rangers' other arms (Martin Perez, Kevin Matthews, Robbie Ross or Neil Ramirez) and will likely end up as trade-bait at some point in his career, especially if he remains in Texas.

Drake Britton, LHP or Stolmy Pimentel, RHP, Boston Red Sox

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    The Red Sox are content to enter into the 2012 season with Alfredo Aceves and Daniel Bard as their No. 4 and 5 starters?

    BS.

    If any team could use Guthrie, it is Boston. Like the Rangers, they have some talent that would appeal to the Orioles, but wouldn't be pieces that would cost Boston much in the long-run. Heck, if they're willing to give Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland to the Astros for a second-rate closer, I don't see why the Orioles couldn't fleece right-hander Stolmy Pimentel or lefty Drake Britton, no relation.

    Pimentel has started in all but five of his 103 minor league appearances, but there's literally no chance he ever joins the big-league club's rotation for the long haul. Same for Britton, who self-destructed in 2011, losing 11 games while posting a 6.91 ERA.

    Both pitchers have potential, but there's likely no hope for either to ever have a role at the Major League level, other than relieving.

Chad Jenkins, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays

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    The Jays have one of the deepest farm systems in baseball, with talent scattered at every level. They also happen to have a rotation that's weak at the back end, which currently comprises of Henderson Alvarez, who wowed the team with unnatural poise during a cameo with the big-league squad, and Dustin McGowan, who returned to the majors after three years away.

    There's no doubt they could have used a seasoned arm like Guthrie, and with their organizational depth, I find it hard to believe that the two sides couldn't have come to an agreement on one or two players.

    Once upon a time, Chad Jenkins was one of the top pitchers in the system. Since signing back in 2009, however, he's been surpassed by Deck McGuire, Asher Wojciechowski, Daniel Norris and a slew of other teenagers. He's still been putting up great numbers, though. He struck out 118 batters and posted a 3.70 ERA in 167.2 innings, ranking him among the top inning eaters in the minors in 2011.

    At 24 years old, he's a bit past his prime, at least in Toronto's system, so he'll likely get a chance to prove his worth on the big league stage at some point in 2012. Even if he impresses, there's no telling how long he can hold off the more talented pitchers behind him.

    In Baltimore, Jenkins would likely rank as a top six or seven prospect, despite not ranking among the top 20 in MLB.com's rankings.

Chad James, LHP, Florida Marlins

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    From one Chad to another.

    The Marlins' Chad, Chad James, has something in common with Guthrie, and it doesn't have to do with book smarts. James has been one of the best pitchers at racking up losses in the minors the past two years, tallying 25, compared to just 10 victories. As hard as it is to believe, James has actually outperformed those loss totals, especially last year.

    Despite losing an organization-high 15 contests, James posted a respectable 3.80 ERA. He brought the number down a run and a half from his 5.12 mark during 2010, despite reportedly losing velocity on his fastball. He also pitched a career-high 149.1 innings while striking out a personal best 124 batters.

    Like Jenkins, James has fallen on the depth chart, now riding the pine behind 2011 first-rounder Jose Fernandez, as well as Adam Conley and Rob Rasmussen.

    Also like Jenkins, he would rank among the top 10 prospects in Baltimore.

    With the Marlins in a free-spending frenzy, I find it hard to believe that they would have refused a straight-up swap.

Matt Carpenter, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals

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    A few weeks back, the O's were aggressively pursuing Cardinals starter/reliever Kyle McClellan. The two sides couldn't agree on any kind of deal, likely because the Cards didn't see anything of value in the O's farm system, but it seems unlikely that the two sides couldn't have worked a deal around Guthrie.

    He would have given the Cards a stronger fifth starter than Jake Westbrook and would have allowed the team to give up their dogged pursuit of Roy Oswalt. The Orioles, meanwhile, would have picked up McClellan, who could have taken Guthrie's spot in the rotation, and a lesser, mid-level prospect.

    Matt Adams would be asking for a bit much, but Matt Carpenter might have been easily gotten. Carpenter is big-league ready, but he has no position that allows him to fit into the team's plans in 2012. He possesses an electric bat, capable of hitting .300 while producing 20 homers annually.

    In Baltimore, Carpenter could have forced Mark Reynolds over to first base full-time and no doubt offered better defensive support.

Adrian Cardenas, 2B, Oakland Athletics

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    Yes, Cardenas was picked up off waivers by the Cubs, meaning he wouldn't have been available anyways, but if there weren't a bunch of numbskulls running the front office in Baltimore, they could have easily pulled a Guthrie-for-Cardenas-and-someone-else swap.

    Cardenas has consistently been one of the top hitters in the minors the past six seasons, but he's struggled to break into the majors, even with Oakland, which is saying something. He hit .314 in the Pacific Coast League last year and once again showed excellent plate discipline.

    Cardenas would have provided the Orioles with a long-term candidate to replace Brian Roberts at second base, as well as a short-term replacement for him should he not be ready to start the 2012 season.

    Oakland appreciates value, and as O's fans know, there's likely no greater value than Guthrie.

Conor Gillaspie, 3B, San Francisco Giants

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    Adding Guthrie to a rotation that already includes Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner would have given the Giants one of the top starting fives in the National League. Moving him across the country also would have allowed the Oregon native and former Stanford All-American to return to the West Coast.

    The Giants farm system isn't too deep, but there's more than enough pieces worthy of a deal, especially third baseman Conor Gillaspie. The 24-year-old has made his mark in the minors with great plate discipline and timely hitting. He added some pop to his game in 2011, slugging a career-high 11 home runs while driving in at least 61 runs for the third consecutive year.

    His play at third base has consistently gotten better over the years, and he added some versatility by learning to play first this past season. He could also play an outfield corner spot. That versatility would have made him invaluable in Baltimore this season. Instead, he'll be riding the pine waiting for an injury to Pablo Sandoval, Aubrey Huff, Melky Cabrera and Brandon Belt.

Levon Washington, OF, Cleveland Indians

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    The O's scooped Guthrie up off the scrap-heap years ago from the Indians, who now have a few holes in their rotation and little ammunition to fill them after dealing their top two pitching prospects to Colorado late last season in exchange for Ubaldo Jimenez.

    The Indians have very little talent in the minors that would have been appropriate for a Guthrie deal, but the first one that comes to mind that could have been discussed is Levon Washington. The Indians paid a hefty price to get him to sign in 2010, but were disappointed by a performance in 2011 that lacked any kind of inspiration at the plate.

    Washington is a similar specimen to Baltimore's own Xavier Avery. Tons of potential, massive amounts of speed, but very little polish. As a wise man once said, what good is all that speed if you can't get on base?

    Aside from Avery, the O's lack any other players like Washington, who would rank near the back of the top 10 in Baltimore's system.

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