Sunday, July 25, 2010

D'Backs Deal Dan Haren to Halos for Joe Saunders et al

The Arizona Diamondbacks have traded pitcher Dan Haren to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for pitcher Joe Saunders, two minor league pitchers and a player to be named later (who is also believed to be a another minor league pitcher).

It's no surprise that Haren was traded. However, most expected him in Yankee pinstripes. This marks the second time this month the Bronx Bombers have not been able to acquire a starting pitcher. First, it was Cliff Lee who, of course, ended up with the Texas Rangers. So what's going on with Brian Cashman? Maybe he's holding out for Ted Lilly.

The broadcast crew for ESPN Sunday Night Baseball (which this week consisted of Orel Hershiser, Bobby Valentine and Dan Shulman) couldn't make sense of the trade and thought the Angels would turn around and trade Haren for a bat.

But why? In Haren, the Angels have a number one starting pitcher. The Angels do have three good starting pitchers in Ervin Santana (9-7 3.55 ERA), Jered Weaver (9-6 3.22 ERA) and Joel Pineiro (10-7 4.18 ERA). But I don't think any of them are aces. Although Weaver does currently leads the AL in strikeouts with 147. Interestingly, at the time of the trade Haren's 141 strikeouts tied him for second in the NL with Josh Johnson of the Florida Marlins (with San Francisco Giants ace Tim Lincecum leads the NL with 143 Ks).

Now Haren's 7-8 record and 4.60 ERA hasn't been impressive but he has been pitching with the second worst team in the NL. But let's remember that Haren has won at least 14 games each of the past five seasons. That's been good enough to merit three All-Star Game selections.

But with the Angels seven games back of the Rangers in the AL West one could make the case that this move is a day late and a dollar short. In fact, the Angels just lost three out of four to the Rangers this weekend. The Halos are also only half a game ahead of the Oakland Athletics.

Yet it is worth noting that Haren is under contract for both the 2011 and 2012 seasons with a club option in 2013. Haren is nearing the peak of his career so even if it doesn't pay dividends in 2010 it could next year or the year after.

Joe Saunders has struggled in 2010. After winning 17 and 16 games in 2008 and 2009, Saunders is 6-10 with a 4.62 ERA. But let's put it into perspective. His ERA in '09 was 4.60. He has also not struggled like Scott Kazmir whose ERA is nearly at 7.00 (6.92 to be exact) and is currently on the DL.

Saunders is a quality big league starter who could stabilize the Diamondbacks rotation. If any of the minor league pitchers obtained by the D'Backs bears fruit then it could benefit them in the long run.

But as with all trades we shall see.

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