A 5 point ERA isn't good enough to be a competitive big league pitcher and we've got numerous pitchers on the roster in that area.
Although I do not believe they will perform equally, the main bet here is that Jason Hammel and Jeremy Guthrie are not all that different from each other.
rWAR fWARAfter seeing these numbers one might ask first: how are rWAR and fWAR different? Well, rWAR uses total zone data and is based on the concept that the pitcher is responsible for BABIP. The other method assumes that the way to measure pitching is by normalizing in the form of Defense Independent Pitching Statistics. Using that frame of reference, fWAR probably hurts him due to Guthrie's tendency to give up fly balls and home runs while rWAR considers him to be responsible for generating a lower BABIP. Hammel is benefited by fWAR for his K rate and low walks (last year through was not kind) while rWAR thinks he was a bit hittable. If you are a staunch believer in pitchers controlling their BABIP fate (even in lieu of the strikeouts that typically relate to low BABIP) then you are likely to think that Guthrie is an above average pitcher who is worth 10MM. If you are a fWAR guy, then you might think Guthrie is average to below average and worth about 7MM. Strangely, that was basically the difference between the two arbitration values for Guthrie. In the end, the Rockies signed him to a 8.2MM deal while the Orioles have Hammel and Lindstrom for 8.5MM.
Jason Hammel 5.5 8.8
Jeremy Guthrie 8.9 5.8
I tend to lean more in the fWAR direction, but am open to the idea that we know very little about how pitchers affect how well balls are hit. In other words, I see no issue in weighting rWAR and fWAR equally for pitchers. This would suggest that, yes, Jason Hammel is worth as much as Jeremy Guthrie. However, Hammel's 2011 gives me some pause and it probably would for anyone who fully embraces fWAR. In 2009 and 2010, Hammel enjoyed 3.9 fWAR each year. Last year, it dropped to 1.0. Much of this was due to his strikeout rate dropping 30% and his walks jumping up 51%. Meanwhile, rWAR zealots would not be too worried as a drop in BABIP compensated for those and netted him his best rWAR over the last three years with a 2.0. Maybe it is a push.
If you take the above to heart and find Hammel and Guthrie equivalent then a second control year of Hammel and Matt Lindstrom are just gravy. Lindstrom is a 96 mph four seamer and slider guy. He has historically had some trouble with lefties, which makes sense based on the pitches he has. Lindstrom is a solid back end arm and is also under team control for two years.
So...why do I not like the trade if it looks like a push in so many ways?
It kicks the talent can another year. Guthrie's worth has been converted into Hammel and Lindstrom. Hammel's peripherals last year concern me. I am not certain that he all of a sudden gained an ability to depress BABIP rates. I more believe that he has lost his ability to strike batters out. In that regard, I do not see a Guthrie for Lindstrom trade being worthwhile as it places too much value in a somewhat hittable flame thrower. I think this move runs counter to building this franchise into a winner. Young, cost-controlled talent would be preferable even if that talent had a low probability of being a difference maker.
Dan Duquette mentioned that Jason Hammel pitched better away from Coors field and that would enable him to throw 200 IP instead of the 170 IP he has been hitting.
Has Hammel performed better away from Coors' Field?
2009 5.73 3.13
2010 4.07 5.71
2011 5.20 4.28