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March 9, 2009 at 12:56 pm ET
Good work, Jeremy. Here’s a 15% pay cut.

The cheapest ace in baseball just got even cheaper.Aaaand the delivery

Jeremy Guthrie, the opening day starter who led last year’s O’s in ERA, wins and strikeouts, will earn $650,000 in 2009, which is $120,000 less than he made in 2008.

Because he’s 29 and seems to have been around forever, it’s easy to forget that Guthrie’s actually what’s known among front office nerds as a “zero-to-three” guy. Though he first saw big-league action in 2004, last year was only his second one in The Show.

Zero-to-threes are the only major leaguers who get eaten for lunch by the owners. Generally, they take what they’re given and they shut up about it.

Orioles poohbah Andy MacPhail attributes the pay cut to the big bonus Guthrie got when he signed with Cleveland. “He’s so much higher-paid than the normal service time,” MacPhail told The Sun. When Cleveland drafted him in 2002, they gave Guthrie piles of cash and a comparatively fat contract to sign. Then they gave up on him and the O’s assumed Guthrie’s deal.

On one hand, this seems pretty cold of the O’s. Jeez, all’s the guy’s done is become your number one starter. But on the other hand, MacPhail is unsentimental. By the time the O’s are any good, how much can anyone expect Jeremy Guthrie to contribute?

Guthrie seems like a terrific guy. Smiles a lot. Humble. Rides his bike to the ballpark. (seriously! he does!) He’s a good pitcher and a hard worker. But realistically, he’s not part of the Orioles long-term plans. This is probably his last year here.

So, Guthrie will get 30-something starts and 10 or 12 wins again. And next year, he’ll be due a big raise. It just probably won’t be in Baltimore. And that’s OK. We’ll all remember him fondly when the O’s are on top again.

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2 Responses to “Good work, Jeremy. Here’s a 15% pay cut.”
  1. Nato says:

    I agree. I really like Guthrie and think he’s a heck of a battlecat on the mound. I actually saw him pitch an interleague game in San Diego a few years back and the W made my trip.

    At the end of the day he’s going to get lost in the shuffle — good player, wrong time. Lets hope he catches fire this summer and and McOriole can net us some more prospects.

  2. Rocket says:

    How much would Guthrie be due if he pitches like an ace again? Would the O’s at least try to sign him for a couple more years during the season, especially if reaching terms now would save a few bucks in 2010 and 2011? Starting pitching, the team’s weak point by far, is the toughest commodity. It would sure help to have someone decent locked up for a bit, so he could help the transition to those Baby Birds. Mac probably doesn’t want to give him ace money, though, so you could be right about Guthrie being gone before 2010. I hope he sticks around; that rotation is weak.

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