Friday, May 28, 2010

Under The Radar Inquiries

  • It doesn't hurt to ask...

Trading season is going to heat up sooner rather than later especially with the entire National League all stuck together like Michael Kay's dirty laundry (literally and figuratively); with that in mind (apologies for the image if you were eating) it's time to have a look at players who----unlike Prince Fielder, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt----haven't been bandied about in the media as the obvious targets for contenders to bolster their rosters.

Some names may not even be available, but given their team and individual struggles, it never hurts to ask; and asking can sometimes lead to dialogue which takes on a life of its own and evolves from the outlandish, to the possible, to the realistic, to the blockbuster that shocks the world.

Here are the players about whom to ask, along with the teams that should do that asking:

Dan Haren, Arizona Diamondbacks

Even in the mishmash of the National League, the Diamondbacks are going nowhere. Their starting pitching is short; the bullpen is terrible; the lineup is streaky and strikeout-laden; and their defense reprehensible. The foundation of a power-hitting lineup bolstered by two aces at the top of the starting rotation with Dan Haren and Brandon Webb has been detonated by Webb's shoulder injury and Haren's struggles.

Haren's been terrible for the most part this year----stats----and he's giving up an unsightly number of homers (16 so far); his contract is long-term and moderately agreeable if you think he'll rebound ($8.25 million this year; $12.75 million for 2011-2012; and a $15.5 million club option for 2013 with a $3.5 million buyout); his control and strikeouts are solid.

He'll be 30 in September and doesn't have a no-trade clause.

Ordinarily, Webb would be the trade target and if he were healthy and pitching, that's who'd be dealt; but he's not. He's still on the disabled list, has just changed his arm angle for one reason or another and his return is uncertain.

So why not call GM Josh Byrnes about Haren?

Haren came up with the Cardinals and would benefit from the tutelage of Dave Duncan to get back on track; plus the Cardinals just lost both Brad Penny and Kyle Lohse to injuries; they need a starter.

The Mets play in a park in which Haren's penchant for giving up homers would not be a factor and he'd be a member of the club for the long-term; the Yankees need pitching; as do the Angels.

Will the Diamondbacks listen if teams come calling about Haren? Maybe.

Shin-Soo Choo, Cleveland Indians

I mentioned him in passing during my podcast appearance yesterday with Sal at SportsFan Buzz as a player about whom a surprise contender like the Padres might want to ask.

That was before reading today's profile of Choo in today's NY Times by Tyler Kepner.

After getting past that Choo is blossoming into a five-tool star at age 28 who's going to be arbitration-eligible for the first time after this season, he has one issue that could spur the Indians to listen to offers for him----compulsory service in the South Korean military that must begin before age 30.

Choo has options to avoid the mandatory service. As is stated in the article, he could apply for U.S. citizenship; or he could help South Korea win the Gold Medal in the Asian games and be exempted from service entirely.

Choo's agent is Scott Boras, so you have to figure they're going to cook something up to let him play those prime years and earn a lot of money.

The Indians are penny-pinching and terrible. Can they risk losing Choo for two years as they rebuild? Would an offense-hungry team in the middle of a race be willing to give up some quality bulk for Choo?

The Athletics, Padres and Giants are three teams to look at; teams with prospects to deal and an offensive hole to fill; and if they called, the Indians might be willing to make the move for the known young players in exchange for a burgeoning star who may or may not be available to play for two full years.

Scott Kazmir, Los Angeles Angels

Here's a thought for a team with a bullpen issue----why not trade for Kazmir and make him a reliever?

Kazmir will never be durable enough to be a reliable starter; he racks up pitch counts into the 100s by the fifth or (if his team is lucky) sixth inning; he's very expensive ($8 million this year; $12 million in 2011; a $13.5 million club option for 2012 with a $2.5 million buyout); and the Angels would move him.

How about a team like the Braves, who could use starting pitching help now, and a replacement closer for Billy Wagner next year?

The Phillies are desperately in need of pitching and using Kazmir as a reliever would reduce the sting and criticism of trading prospects for pitching after dealing the Stone Cold Killer, Lee, for Roy Halladay.

How about the Brewers if they still think they've got enough to climb back into contention (why not in the NL?) and want to replace Trevor Hoffman with Kazmir?

The Rockies need bullpen help and have the prospects to deal. The Nationals are playing aggressively in the market.

It's outside the box and Kazmir might not like the switch to the bullpen, but it's where he belongs and it might be the best thing for the acquiring club and the pitcher for the short and long term.

Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

I'd just ask because the Pirates are so stupid that they might listen. McCutchen will be a perennial MVP candidate one day.

  • Viewer Mail 5.28.2010:

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE the Mets and Cliff Lee:

How come you don't want Lee on the Mets? Wouldn't the Stone Cold Killer have fun in New York?

Are you kidding? All I want for Hanukkah is the Stone Cold Killer.

But I'm not giving up the house for him now unless the Mets get a window to negotiate a contract extension and he's definitely staying long-term. If he's a rental, I'd just as soon look elsewhere for pitching help now and wait until after the season to make an all-out effort to sign Lee. I guarantee he'd love nothing better than to shove it to the Phillies for trading him.

Jeff (Street Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE Japanese players; and the Padres:

To my eye, all the Japanese players tend to have a certain calmness about them, whether they're good (Ichiro) or not (Irabu). I caught a few innings of that game last night and I was impressed with how Takahashi picked away.

Unrelated question:

The Padres. Seriously. Is this happening? Their entire pitching staff is beyond stellar right now. Is this gonna last? Watching them dissect the Cardinals the last couple days has given me indigestion. Are they gonna be buyers at the trade deadline? Hard to believe... but it's possible, right?

Agreed about the Japanese players; it's cultural.

The Padres pitching is very young and deep; because of that, they're going to hang around in contention all year long and have a bright future. I do think they're going to be looking for reasonably priced upgrades at mid-season which is one of the reasons I mentioned the Lance Berkman and Shin-Soo Choo possibilities on my Podcast appearance. The Padres are for real.

I was a guest with Sal at SportsFan Buzz yesterday on his podcast and it's me in all my glory with Sal somehow turning the trick of keeping me from flying into space.

Click here and dig it.

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She-Fan said...

Choo always kills the Yankees ...sort of like Jason Bay. Not looking forward to facing him this weekend in the Bronx.

Jeff said...

I like the Haren in St. Louis idea. In fact, I love it.

The podcast was great. I wanna hear one where Sal lets you go off.