Haren Is Good Acquisition, But There Are Red Flags
Dan Haren to the Angels is a stunner for a couple of reasons.
First, the primary need for Mike Scioscia’s team seemed to be hitting, not pitching. And second, the Yankees and just about everyone else were supposedly in the hunt for the accomplished Arizona righthander.
This trade definitely shows Anaheim owner Arte Moreno is still trying to win. And that’s encouraging.
But you’ll excuse the skeptic in me for mentioning there are also a couple of red flags to wave in all this.
Like Haren’s numbers this season dropping off dramatically from the previous three years. Part of it could be he’s just been playing for a bad team and he’s discouraged. But after the way the Angels were snookered by Tampa in the Scott Kazmir (Oh yeah, by the way, he doesn’t have that great slider of his anymore) deal, you can’t help but notice some of these things.
Haren won a combined 30 games in 2008 and 2009. This year he is 7-8. OK, not that big a deal. But this is:
Opposing hitters averaged .224 in 2009 and .247 in .2008. This year, they’re averaging .285. In his previous three seasons, he’d given up less hits than innings pitched. This season, he has allowed 161 hits in 141 innings. His WHIP (walks, plus hits per inning) number was 1.00 last year and 1.13 in 2008. This year, it is 1.35.
On the bright side, he has struck out 141 hitters in those 141 innings and has walked just 29.
So why were the Angels able to get such a quality pitcher relatively cheap? Joe Saunders is a solid major league starter, but he’s a No. 4 or 5 at best. Haren is at least a No. 2 and a potential No. 1. Saunders gets by with grit and guile, two traits that usually (Andy Pettitte being an exception) don’t work well in the postseason. Haren is a power pitcher who should boost the staff if, and that could be a big if, it makes it into October this year.
Saunders and two relatively non-impact minor leaguers for Haren simply doesn’t compute. But then there is that “player to be named later” thing to consider.
Some Arizona fans already are dreaming that the player might be super prospect Mike Trout. Now, THAT would be a shock. It would also be a huge mistake. Don’t expect it to happen.
But the player could be one of the better prospects right below Trout. Someone such as center fielder Peter Boujos or left-handed pitcher Trevor Reckling or catcher Hank Conger.
If that’s the case, then the Angels paid a fairly stiff price.
The good thing is that Haren is not a rent-a-player. He has two years and an option remaining on his contract and, at age 29, he would fit well into the club’s already strong starting rotation, assuming he hasn’t had a sudden Kazmir-like regression.
You would assume Angels’ scouts have made sure that’s not the case. Of course, you could have assumed the same thing when they made the Kazmir deal a year ago.
So now Tony Reagins, that old rascal, has added Alberto Callaspo and Haren to the mix, and you know Scioscia, in his first post-trade remarks, is going to say: “You can never have enough pitching.”
In a sense, he is right. If Haren can bounce back to his 2009 form, a Jered Weaver, Haren, Ervin Santana, Joel Pineiro foursome is a very nice group, although that No. 5 spot continues to be a question mark.
As mentioned before, Callaspo doesn’t add much pop to a lineup clearly suffering from a serious lack of power. But maybe some of those young Rangers’ arms will once again wilt in the heat of the Texas summer.
The bottom line is that the Angels appear considerably better today than they were a week ago at this time. They now have a proven, competent, every-day third baseman and a new power pitcher with the potential to win a lot of games.
Of course, a year ago, they were selling Scott Kazmir as a new power pitcher with the potential to win a lot of games.
The lesson here is to merely demonstrate some patience.
Let’s all wait and see how Dan Haren turns out before we try to fully evaluate this trade.
— Steve Bisheff