Monday, July 26, 2010

They're Out There Having Fun...

  • In the warm California sun:

What a shock.

Few people had seriously mentioned the Los Angeles Angels as big time players for Dan Haren...until Dan Haren was traded to the Los Angeles Angels.

It's a part of the way they do business to play their cards close to the vest and dive in aggressively and without warning; and of course, they went for pitching when they might have been able to survive with the current pitching staff and gone for a big time bat the likes of Adam Dunn or Prince Fielder. Instead, the Angels chose to acquire Alberto Callaspo to play third base and make the big strike two days later in getting Haren from the Diamondbacks.

In exchange for Haren, the Angels sent LHP Joe Saunders, LHP Patrick Corbin, RHP Rafael Rodriguez and a player to be named later, said to be minor league prospect LHP Tyler Skaggs. The Angels gave up a lot to get Haren, but they're trying to win now and they know they're going to have Haren for the long term.

That's not to say the deal is without risk.

Haren has not pitched all that well this year, but that may be due to being the last man standing for a decimated Diamondbacks team and that his mechanics are slightly off kilter (he doesn't seem to be pausing as much as he once did on his leg lift); Haren's going to benefit from the change-of-scenery and a stable organization as opposed to the rampant disarray currently en vogue with the Diamondbacks.

Saunders is the lone, established big leaguer going to the Diamondbacks and is, at best, a mid-rotation starter on a decent team. His stuff isn't particularly impressive and he's been terrible this season. He's a contact pitcher who allows a lot of home runs; doesn't strike anyone out; and is in for a rude awakening when he realizes how atrocious the Diamondbacks are defensively. Unless they shore up the defense and Saunders benefits from switching to the National League, he's going to be worse in Arizona than he was in Anaheim----not only now, but for his entire tenure with the club.

I wonder if the Angels would've tried to peddle Scott Kazmir to the Diamondbacks instead of Saunders if Kazmir wasn't on the disabled list. Kazmir's stuff is way better than that of Saunders, but he's fragile and has pitched poorly. Plus, he's far more expensive contractually.

Corbin is a 20-year-old starter who's got solid strikeout/control numbers in high A of the Angels minor league system. Rodriguez is going to be 26 in September and has spent time in the big leagues without much success; he was used as a starter earlier in his minor league career and switched to the bullpen; he's allowed a lot of homers and his strikeout numbers aren't good----a reliever who allows a lot of homers and doesn't strike people out isn't of much use. Skaggs, a top prospect, is only 18-years-old; he was drafted with the 40th pick in the first round last season and has put up terrific numbers in high A.

In short, the Diamondbacks dumped Haren's entire salary; got some volume in pitching and a big time, young pitching prospect. Skaggs could be on the fast track to the big leagues; the Diamondbacks have never shied away from bringing their youngsters up to the big leagues early (Justin Upton for example) and letting them learn on the fly.

On another note for the Diamondbacks, I find it interesting when teams have a GM with the "interim" tag attached to his name and allow him to make such important trades of franchise cornerstones.

Jerry DiPoto is a widely respected baseball man, but he's still only an interim GM; one would assume that he's a pretty good bet to get the full-time job, but he's still technically not the GM. It's an odd way of functioning; just as the Padres fired Kevin Towers after allowing him to deal Jake Peavy last season and almost trade Adrian Gonzalez; and as the Cubs are now doing with Jim Hendry on extremely shaky ground, but handling the possible sell-off of Derrek Lee, Ted Lilly and others; I question the wisdom; but it looks like the Diamondbacks made a nice trade here.

With the Yankees having set a hard line in their negotiations for Haren, the Diamondbacks were smart to jump on the Angels deal quickly. Part of that comes from knowing how the Angels function----their reputation precedes them in that if they have an offer on the table and their potential trading partner hesitates, essentially shopping the deal around as the Mariners did in their negotiations with the Yankees for Cliff Lee, the Angels are liable to tell you to take a hike; or not specifically tell you to take a hike, but let you know that they're no longer interested in your deal in a different way----by trading for someone else.

Had this been a rental of the Lee variety (although the Angels have the money to keep Lee whereas the Rangers don't), then the price would've been to steep; but the Angels know they're going to have Haren, can try to make a run at the Rangers this season and be prepared to contend in 2011 as well with Haren a giant step up from Saunders.

I don't think the Angels are going to be able to catch the Rangers this year; and they can forget about the Wild Card; but this isn't an acquisition for two months; Haren's an Angel and will remain an Angel for the long term.

It looks like a win-win for both sides.

  • Desperation is repellent:

It's an fine line between showing interest in something while maintaining an air of attractiveness or seduction. Repeatedly declaring one's interest in that which has caught his or her eye is the surest way to lose it.

Bobby Valentine wants to manage in the big leagues again. His flirtation with the Marlins has either run its course and is over, or will have to wait until after the season to be rekindled. Now that the Cubs are going to be looking for a new manager with the retirement announcement from Lou Piniella, effective at the end of the season, Valentine has openly expressed interest in the job----ESPN Story.

Like anything else with Valentine, there's the potential of the eruption of a nuclear fireball and it's mostly due to the behavior of...Bobby Valentine.

Would Valentine be a good choice for the Cubs?

It depends on their intentions.

Valentine is well-versed in stat based theory, has a gambler's soul when it comes to in-game strategy and the experience and courage to make maneuvers based on what he feels will win a game rather than what's easier to explain to reporters and front office people. The Cubs have hired a stat guy, Ari Kaplan, to work in their front office and if they're going to do a drastic organizational rebuild, then Valentine is a bad choice; but if they intend to move forward and try to win on the fly, they do have enough talent at the big league level and in their system to make it a realistic and sensible option to hire Valentine.

They have contracts that are completely immobile like Alfonso Soriano, so a total overhaul doesn't make much sense; but the Cubs don't even know who their GM is going to be next season, so thinking about a manager before they keep GM Jim Hendry or replace him makes little sense.

I don't see Valentine with the Cubs next year; nor do I put much stock in the idea that Joe Girardi would leave the Yankees for that job; Ryne Sandberg is going to be the next manager of the Cubs.

For Valentine, he's running out of options. He pulled out of the running for the Orioles when all indications were that he was about to be named Marlins manager; now that that is on life support, he's talking up the Cubs. If they don't want him, he's either going to have to hope the Mets do something out of character and bring him back or the Dodgers go after him if Joe Torre retires. Aside from that, he's running out of big league jobs to "covet" and actually have a chance of getting.

Desperation leaves you at the mercy of that which you desire; and it's bad strategy as well.

  • Viewer Mail 7.26.2010:

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Dan Haren (prior to the Angels trade):

The Yankees are right to try to make the best deal they can - for them. If the Diamondbacks have other suitors for Haren and the deal is better somewhere else, then let them take it. But the trading deadline is looming, so who are the other teams and what are they offering?

This is another example of the Yankees wanting something, but not taking into serious account the other clubs who might be after the object of their affection. If the Yankees had agreed to take all of the Haren money, Haren might be a Yankee right now.

There's nothing wrong with asking for what you want (this can also be said of the Valentine situation), but there has to be flexibility. If the Yankees are comfortable going forward with their starting pitching as it stands now----and there's little reason not to be as long as Andy Pettitte will be back in a reasonable timeframe----then they could pull a "take it or leave it" with the Diamondbacks regarding Haren; or the Astros with Roy Oswalt; or any other starter available; but if they wanted Haren, they should've done what needed to be done to get him.

The competition for Haren appeared to be the Phillies and the Cardinals. I'm sure the Yankees were smart enough to know that the Angels would be monitoring the circumstances from afar and were always a threat to strike----and they did.

Kyle Johnson writes RE the Angels and Dan Haren:

With the acquisition of Dan Haren from the D-backs do you see the Angels catching the Rangers by season's end or are the offensive differences just too big? Also imagine what a starting three of Lee, Weaver, and Haren would be like if they were able to sign Lee next off season. Would be a very intimidating team, no?

I don't think the Angels are going to catch the Rangers, but they are going to be in position to capitalize on a young team's panic late in the season if they're close in mid-to-late September----you never know; and late season collapses are becoming an annual event in baseball.

The Angels have a lot of money coming off the books in the next couple of years. Bobby Abreu, Brian Fuentes, Hideki Matsui and Scot Shields will all probably be gone after this year; Kazmir after next year; and Torii Hunter after 2012. They could certainly figure a way to get Lee into their salary structure; but now that the Yankees are out on Haren and almost definitely not taking Oswalt, it's going to be hard to outbid them on Lee.

I was a guest with Sal at SportsFan Buzz on Friday and it'll give you thrills and chills that you've never experienced.

You can listen directly here----link----or click on Sal's site and download it from I-Tunes.2010BaseballGuideCover.gif

My book is still available on Amazon, I-Universe and Barnes and It's available for download as an E-book here. You can also now get it for less that five bucks on BN via download here.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

If he gets a gig, I would hope Valentine could manage a game better than his job jockeying.

There's another "OOPS" moment for ya.

As for the Angels and Haren... ruthless, those Angels. Ruthless. They don't ever give up. That's baller.