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July 26, 2010

Transaction Action

Send Me Some Angels

by Christina Kahrl and Kevin Goldstein

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LOS ANGELES ANGELS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Acquired UT-S Alberto Callaspo from the Royals for RHP Sean O'Sullivan and LHP Will Smith. [7/22]
Acquired RHP Dan Haren from the Diamondbacks for LHPs Joe Saunders and Patrick Corbin, RHP Rafael Rodriguez, and a PTBNL. [7/25]
Activated RHP Matt Palmer from the 15-day DL, and optioned him to Salt Lake (Triple-A); optioned RHP Trevor Bell to Salt Lake; purchased the contract of RHP Michael Kohn from Salt Lake. [7/26]

CK: Credit Tony Reagins and company for not simply thinking in terms of this season, but in terms of what will keep the franchise in contention with Texas the next three seasons. Because those are the stakes, not merely throwing everything away on the possibility that the division title in this particular season is worth throwing heaps and scads of stuff at. This wasn't a tit-for-tat like the Cubs adding Rich Harden to make up for the Brewers renting CC Sabathia-down in Texas, Cliff Lee goes away after this season, where Haren is Angels property through 2012 at least, and 2013 if they choose to pick up the option.

That's critical to note in evaluating this deal and before we start generating any expectations in terms of its immediate impact. The Angels are down by seven games in the AL West standings by the time you read this, and however maimed the AL East's top three teams might wind up being via injuries or events, the wild card remains even further out of reach, so this isn't about keeping up with the Rangers this season as much as it helps to sustain the Angels' ability to do so in future seasons.

Taken on those terms, and as a way of avoiding paying market prices for a starting pitcher who, before this season, had been reliably among the 20 best starters in the majors in the last three, you can only call Reagins and company brilliant. Acquiring three years of contractual control of a front-end rotation starter is all the more inspired because it comes without dealing any major talent to make it happen-the Angels didn't surrender Hank Conger or Mike Trout or Fabio Martinez or Trevor Reckling, let alone Peter Bourjos or Jordan Walden. Get past that group, and you're well into the second or third rank of prospects in an organization not notable for its depth. Saunders might be the name pitcher, but with a career 54-32 record despite weak peripherals, he is perhaps the most perfect symptom in cleats of the team's recent run of far surpassing their expected records.

Instead, by taking on Haren's salary, the Angels swung this deal by flexing financial muscle now, and not in December or January. That's not to say they haven't spared themselves some expense-Joe Saunders was already making $3.7 million, and however mediocre his performance, he stood to make more via arbitration in the next two seasons. Count that avoidable expense against the benefit of employing Haren at a salary below what the open market would have paid him, and Haren becomes not just an upgrade within the rotation, but an example of money better spent now and into the future.

Which brings us to the benefit of the man himself. In the last six seasons, Haren has managed a full workload in every campaign, making 33 or 34 starts from 2006 through to the present. He's leading the league in strikeouts, and managing an impressive strikeout rate of 23.2 percent despite having to work with a defense that has provided him with a career-worst .341 BABIP allowed-which makes for longer innings and more batters faced, making Haren's relatively stable strikeout clip that much more impressive. That said, that poor defensive support might go towards explaining why Haren has allowed a career-worst 10.2 percent of his fly balls to leave play as homers-while he's throwing the same average number of pitches per batter, because of all those uncaught balls in play he's not getting as deep into his ballgames while nevertheless facing more batters per game. That means more batters faced in tougher situations, and that's happening earlier on in his ballgames.

That said, this isn't the only challenge Haren has had to overcome. His overall numbers have been handicapped by almost every possible challenge attendant to pitching for a bad ballclub, all of which contributes to a SIERA (3.16) almost a full run and a half below his ERA (4.60). The Snakes' bullpen and his managers' adaptations to the issue are just one example of what he's had to work around-despite just 11 quality starts in 21 in terms of raw tallies, he has an additional three blown after the sixth inning. So, without even getting into the full extent of the damage, you're talking about a starter who has managed quality starts two-thirds of the time out in what is seen as a massively disappointing season-that while pitching in a bandbox, while pitching in front of a lousy defense, and while having to be left out in his games longer than ever before by skippers trying to avoid turning games over to the worst bullpen of the last 60 years, or what effectively amounts to the worst bullpen ever.

Now, take all of those lousy contributing factors out of the picture. Instead, put that guy with a 3.16 SIERA already foretelling better future performance, and put him on perhaps the best-ever ballclub when it comes to outperforming its expected record year after year. Put him in a much more pitcher-friendly park, pitching for one of the best managers in the game today. Give him the benefit of a lineup that shows up on the road as well as in its home games. And then add at least two, and perhaps three more years of it to the Angels' future besides. Reagins may not have won his ballclub the AL West in 2010 with this move, but he may have won an offseason that hasn't even begun yet with this early entry for best move to win in 2011 and beyond. After Lee, there was no better available starting pitcher than Haren right now-including Roy Oswalt-and no better starting pitcher available as a free agent in next winter's market. Why get caught in a bidding war on a Lee rental, or pay Lee's price in December, when you can get Haren for less talent in trade and for less cost on your future payroll?

Add in that this is a big-ticket move that helps let Angelenos know that Arte Moreno is as willing as ever to flex financial muscle to make something happen, and perhaps season-ticket sales lose nothing to a year without finishing in first place. As stated before, the Rangers with Lee may have too big a lead to overcome. Maybe so, but adding Haren does what Saunders could not guarantee-that the Angels will be in the best possible position to keep up and potentially take advantage of any misstep in Texas. It's a lot easier to see an Angels team contending with Haren up top in the rotation, regardless of who they end up with in the last slot-Scott Kazmir, Trevor Bell, Geoff Zahn, you name it-than with that same choice plus Saunders. It's certainly more plausible that a team with Haren, Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana, and Joel Pineiro gets enough winnable ballgames that they mount a serious run that really turns up the heat on the Rangers, right now as well as in the three seasons to come.

The question now is whether or not the Angels have the run-scoring ability to maximize on this opportunity. Adding a multi-positional player like Callaspo might seem like a nice way of coming to terms with the idea that neither Izturis or Brandon Wood will be the answer. However, it's really not that big of an addition, except insofar as Callaspo plays third base effectively, and this allows them to use Izturis up the middle as needed.

It's important not to overstate the impact of adding Callaspo. His .256 TAv ranks well below the MLB-wide average of .269 at third base; in the broadest of strokes, that still represents a major upgrade on the Halos' tepid production at the hot corner (.212 TAv). That's basically all Brandon Wood's fault. Callaspo's hitting isn't going to be a major upgrade on what they've gotten from Izturis (.262 this year against .267 projected, after .272 last) or Frandsen (.254 this year, .251 projected). Despite Callaspo's Angel-friendly low strikeout rate, it also may not seem like a perfect match of player and noisily advocated institutional culture, in that Callaspo ranks among the 20 most destructive baserunners in baseball this season. However, a trio of Angels are running the bases even worse, so we really ought to be able to dispense with the legend of those canny baserunning Angels teams.

Basically, Callaspo is nothing more than a nice addition as far as depth and multi-positional utility, since he could help out in the outfield as well as up the middle as needed. He's in his age-27 season and about to begin the arbitration-eligible portion of his career, meaning that the Angels have added him at exactly the point at which he becomes more expensive, which goes towards explaining why they managed to pick him up for so little in terms of the talent surrendered. It's a reasonable pickup of a player whom they'll control for three seasons. He'll help, but he's not a major solution of their third-base problem, any more than adding him elevates a bad lineup that much closer towards the middle of the pack.


KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Traded UT-S Alberto Callaspo to the Angels for RHP Sean O'Sullivan and LHP Will Smith; activated OF-L Rick Ankiel from the 15-day DL. [7/22]
Placed OF-L David DeJesus on the 15-day DL (sprained thumb); recalled OF-L Alex Gordon from Omaha (Triple-A); designated RHP Anthony Lerew for assignment. [7/23]

The coldest critics might complain that perhaps not even the Royals can make bringing back Alex Gordon simple, straightforward good news. However, when you think of the attending events, so many of which are cause for optimism, it's not quite as glum as you might think. Remember, after the initial, irksome decision to ship Gordon out after his struggling through an injury-abbreviated spring, they had the good sense to finally place some faith back in Mike Aviles, who now seems settled in, playing at second base. That was progress, in a way that dangerously possible alternatives like playing Chris Getz or Wee Willie Bloomquist would not have been. Absent Gordon, trusting Aviles helped shunt Callaspo from the keystone over to third base, a defensive improvement as well as a sensible way of employing a solid placeholder utilityman.

That was all while awaiting their former third-base prospect's return, right? So that when they traded Callaspo, they'd be ready to finally redeem said third-base prospect, right? Well, not so much, because as I suggested back in May, waiting for the Royals to land on their perfect lineup might require an infinite number of monkey particles to produce the closest thing to a happy result. Complicating the situation was that the Royals had long since decided that Alex Gordon's next incarnation after his previous appearances as 'source of frustration' and then 'object of organizational pique' would be 'Alex Gordon, outfielder.' This led to an understandable amount of despair among those whose despair-sense organs hadn't already been long since burned off by powder blue perfidy, because pushing Gordon down the defensive spectrum seemed like a too-readily abandoned career path while needlessly surrendering his potential value as a prospect at a more difficult defensive position.

That said, Gordon made the shift without distraction, focusing on showing off what is admittedly his best tool, his bat. His return was long since overdue, after mashing the PCL at a .315/.442/.577 clip (and a .297 Tav). In a case perhaps equal measures of auto-merciful avoidance and batsman's indulgence, the circuit was walking him 16 percent of the time without once walking him intentionally. But, the Royals being the Royals, they were adamant about Gordon staying in Omaha until injury or accident forced their hand-and perhaps not even then. After all, Rick Ankiel's injury didn't create an opportunity for Gordon, they wasted weeks on accumulating direct evidence that Mitch Maier and Bloomquist are not better options. Even that might have made sense if Maier was being used in center, with an eye towards his defensive reputation, but Maier hasn't been playing center every day in six weeks, instead moving in and out of the lineup, and getting starts in right field.

That's the point at which you have to recognize you're no longer playing a complete offense, you're just humming along at a few spots because you've forgotten all the words. That said, they seem to have noticed the problem. While it took DeJesus' injury to get them to bring Gordon back up, that was in addition to reactivating Ankiel, with neither move being made in lieu of the other. For the time being, the Bloomquist/Maier cycle is over. It's still up to Moore (and Ned Yost) to stick with Gordon after DeJesus returns. However, since Jose Guillen is untradeable and a free agent at season's end, and since Scott Podsednik provides no great value from his slot in the lineup, you have to hope that playing Gordon is one small step forward that doesn't get subsequently undone.

In part, I'm an optimist that this will work out, in that now that Gordon's back, I'm wondering if Moore hasn't actually managed to capture enough monkey particles with the Royals' answer to a Bussard ramjet that he isn't almost all the way there towards fielding his best possible lineup. Perhaps stranger still, it seems to be the product of that rare instance of positive impact of shared Braves experience, because between a former Braves front-office minion now in the Royals' GM chair, and the former Braves coach now skippering the ballclub, it seems almost logical that they've landed on a former Braves prospect to answer their immediate need for a third baseman: Wilson Betemit. Admittedly, I'm almost certainly more positive about Betemit's potential value and capacity to come back than most. But it's worth noting that he is still only 28 years old, and if Yost and Moore successfully get Betemit's career back on track, they'll deserve credit for seeing something left where so many had written him off.

In the meantime, there's what they got for Callaspo, which we could leave for last because it wasn't really special. Callaspo is headed into arbitration eligibility this winter, and that apeared to be something they wanted no part of. O'Sullivan is just an organizational right-hander, the sort of guy who has been and will continue to be yo-yo'd between Triple-A and the majors for spot starts, perhaps eventually graduating to fifth starter status until someone moderately less nondescript shows up. Smith is a fast-moving pitchability lefty, having moved through High- to Triple-A before moving back down to Double-A. Having just turned 21 a couple of weeks ago, that's a remarkable swing through an organization in just his second full season, especially after spending all of 2009 in the Low-A Midwest League. That said, he's not some tremendous talent, but he is a big-bodied lefty (standing 6-foot-5) armed with excellent command of a merely average fastball/curveball mix. Adding him to the Royals' burgeoning crop of lower-level arms, he may not stand out any more than O'Sullivan in the long run.


ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Traded RHP Dan Haren to the Angels for LHPs Joe Saunders and Patrick Corbin, RHP Rafael Rodriguez, and a PTBNL. [7/25]

CK: Are the Snakes' straits as a franchise about to head towards Pittsburgh-level horrors? Because looking at this trade, you're left with a high-profile move made by an interim general manager that achieves very little beyond guaranteeing that the payroll will be considerably lower over the next three seasons. Indeed, to get so little for a front-end rotation starter is worse than anything the Pirates had to stoop to in breaking up a non-contender, because Haren is a better talent than anything or anyone that Neal Huntington had to bargain with in tearing down a team that had not contended, whereas Haren was a key component to a franchise that had understandably set its sights much, much higher. If this is all that temporary honcho Jerry Dipoto (or whoever supplants him) are able to get for a key element of a Diamondbacks team notionally better stocked with name talents than the Pirates were, the immediate future in Phoenix is about as bleak as any proposition involving the Pirates.

Let's start with noting that dumping Haren is as much about dumping the $29 million from their budget for the next two years (or $41 million for the next three, given the option on 2013) against the value of any package they might have received in return. A charitable view would be that the D'backs will employ the money in some other way, but to be realistic, that this isn't going to happen. The Snakes cannot replace a starter of Haren's caliber for that kind of money, which represents the truly lost opportunity-by having Haren under control for the next three seasons at market rates below what A.J. Burnett or John Lackey were able to command, Dipoto and company were shopping an asset that, despite his performance this season, was still healthy and still priced at below-market compensation.

Even with the understanding that the D'backs would be flipping this kind of player at something less than his full value, what they've gotten in this deal beyond salary relief looks little better than anything the Pirates received in their various tear-down deals, while giving up a lot better player in Haren than someone like Freddy Sanchez or Xavier Nady. In some ways, it's more like the Jason Bay trade, if you want to keep the comparison to the Pirates' situation intact, in that Bay was under contract for another season beyond, except that nobody Arizona has gotten back is as promising now as Andy LaRoche seemed then. All Arizona is getting back for an under-control front-end workhorse is an established fourth starter in Saunders (if you're feeling charitable and wish to call him such), a prospect in Corbin whose ceiling might be as another fourth starter-i.e., the next Joe Saunders-plus a reliever in Rodriguez of a quality most organizations can generate on their own.* If the PTBNL is who Kevin Goldstein anticipates it will be, that's the one guy who might be something more than this sort of organizational filler.

So put that together: one of the best starting pitchers of the last three years, having rated among the top 20 via Support-Neutral Winning Percentage in 2007, in 2008, and in 2009, and you ditch an existing three-year commitment to him at less-than-market prices to get a guy who might be a third starter, one guy who is a fourth and one who might be, and a spare relief arm. This isn't just a surrender, it's a massive setback for the Snakes, the sort of lost opportunity where the best you can brag about is how much money they've saved. Nobody is going to get a starting pitcher of Haren's quality at such a low price in blood or treasure come the next offseason, and however poorly stocked the Snakes' system may be, this doesn't do nearly enough to re-stock it.

To turn to the pitcher they're plugging into the big-league rotation, Saunders may not get as much of a benefit from leaving the stronger league as you might normally expect. He's about as non-famous as a guy can be, despite winning 33 games in the previous two seasons, but he also doesn't deserve any additional notoriety. He received exceptional run support last season (6.5 RPG), and he got outstanding defensive support in 2008 (.269 BABIP). Not getting either of those things this season, he might appear the worse for it, but he's still effectively the same pitcher: his SIERA's merely moved from 4.73 in '08 to 4.89 in '09 to 5.08 this year. Despite that modest decay, he's essentially just somebody who has had the benefit of taking his regular turn the last three seasons while pitching for a good ballclub. That advantage just went away.

The extent to which Saunders' modest success was symptomatic of his being an Angel is underscored by other unhappy facts. His strikeout rate has been consistently below five per nine in the last three seasons, but that's just another way of noting that he's a soft-tossing lefty. Now he's a soft-tossing southpaw leaving a relatively neutral ballpark and a stronger defense to pitch in a hitter's haven in front of one of the worst defenses in baseball. If he was a worm-killing fiend, and someone you could expect to avoid the risks attached to pitching in the glorified souvenir pen that the D'backs nest in, you could harbor some hope-but he isn't, generally getting flies and grounders only slightly above league norms in the past, and for another ominous indicator, he's fallen back around league-average this year.

How bad could things get? I'm not an optimist, because he's also losing the benefit of pitching against Oakland, a club he's owned, delivering a career-best 11 wins, as well as getting three of his 10 quality starts through six innings (in 20 total turns) this year. Take the A's off the schedule, and he's giving up six runs per nine against everybody else. He's a pitcher giving up a relatively normal rate of home runs per fly ball before moving to a ballpark where the average pitcher's rate is a couple of percentage points higher. Then you get into the fact that he has a career-long platoon issue on his permanent record, having allowed right-handers to slug almost 100 point higher. That comes before he has to pitch in the bandbox formerly known as Bob; how do you expect that to turn out for him?

Now sure, he's coming to the easier league, and that might make for two or three pitcher at-bats or so per ballgame. You have to balance that against his having to pitch in an environment where every stick-bearing biped gets better, hitting against a defense where every ball is more likely to land fair, and where deeper benches in the NL-thanks to the absence of the DH-make it that much easier for opponents to spot additional right-handed battters.

Take all of that together, and having the next two years of contractual control over such an asset might be as much a hazard as a benefit. At best it gives the Snakes an easily indentifiable rotation regular behind Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy, but only that. Keep in mind, Saunders is already 29 years old, so there is no upside to find here, just a relatively durable back-end rotation starter.

KG: I saw Corbin pitch this year, and he probably belonged in High-A at the start of the year. He's going to make to make the big leagues. He's tall and skinny, but his mechanics are loose and clean and pretty to watch; he pounds the strike zone, really goes after guys. The fastball is 88-91, and can have a little sink or a little bit of cut to it, because he can move it around, and he hits his spots. He throws a decent slider; it's not bad, but it's not good, and it isn't some monster pitch for him. He throws a changeup, which is what you can say for it-he throws one, but it's also not that good. He's crafty, but for a ceiling, he's a fourth or fifth starter.

As for Rodriguez, he's just a 'bounce' reliever, in that he's going to bounce from Triple-A to the majors for a while the way things are going. He's neither big nor small, and he doesn't have a big pitch that grades plus: the fastball comes in at 88-92 mph, and while he can sink it, cut it, or split it, whatever he does, it's an average pitch. His breaking pitch is a slider, but it's not a great pitch, just a functional one. If he figures everything out, he can be a middle reliever in the big leagues.

The best prospect of the lot is the PTBNL, or the guy expected to be named later: supplemental '09 first-rounder Tyler Skaggs. The reason he's not named yet is he hasn't put in a full pro season since signing, but he's generally assumed to be the player getting named later in this deal. Just 19 years old after getting selected out fo Santa Monica High School last summer, he's very long-bodied, standing 6'4" to 6'5", with a long arm as well as what I'd call long arm action. Currently, he's throwing 88-91 with his fastball, but it's expected that he'll touch 92 more consistently as he matures. That's decent for a lefty, but the key pitch in his curve, a true 12-to-6 pitch with a lot of late down break. He's got outstanding command and control for his age. It's the curveball that makes you say he could be a solid No. 3 in a big-league rotation-if everything works out-as it was one of the better breaking balls in the Midwest League this year.

*: Yes, the Snakes have a historically awful bullpen this season, so perhaps we should not underrate the value of an adequate off-the-shelf right-hander. I'd call adding Rodriguez as a matter of winding up with more of the same-aim for adequacy by adding the adequate, and you can't really brag about achieving these kinds of modest aspirations as much as you're defined by them.


Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Christina's other articles. You can contact Christina by clicking here
Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

34 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Richard Bergstrom

"This wasn't a tit-for-tat like the Cubs adding Dan Haren."

I think you mean Rich Harden.

Jul 26, 2010 01:09 AM
rating: 0
 
rbrianc

Living in Phoenix but being a hardcore Halo fan, I've got a good look at this deal. I think the Angels did well, but to say that Saunders is "perhaps the most perfect symptom" of the Angels regularly beating their Pythagorean projection the last decade is a quote I'm highly skeptical of. Saunders W-L record I agree was a lot due to luck when you look at his peripherals as often pointed out here at BP and each season it was slowly catching up to him, but there's something more fundamental going on for the Angels to beat their annual 82-82 projections - it wasn't Joe Saunders.

As for the D-Backs side, again, it's a pretty solid analysis of what they're getting, but i disagree with one point and that's trashing Dipoto for making this deal. Assuming they had to move Haren for salary and future considerations, he was being heavily shopped so I'd give them credit at least for getting the best deal they could; you have to assume any and all pennant contenders for the next few years would have had SOME interest in acquiring him, so I'd surmise the Angels offered the best package and outbid several teams by offering the best fit. Yeah, it appears lopsided in the Angels favor, but you also have to assume Haren went at the "market rate".

Jul 26, 2010 01:17 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

To address your first point, the argument is that Joe Saunders numbers look better than they appear because of the Angels.. not that the Angels are better than they were because of Saunders.

For the second point, if you compare what the Angels gave up for Haren compared to what the Phillies gave up for Halladay and the Mariners gave up for Lee, with even less team control of the star pitcher going to the team in question, then it's fair to say the Diamondbacks undersold him. As another comparison, the Diamondbacks gave up Carlos Gonzalez (of Rockies fame), Brett Anderson (starter for the A's), Aaron Cunningham, Greg Smith (starter for the Rockies), Dana Eveland (starter for the A's, and later the Jays and Pirates) and Chris Carter (A's prospect)to get Haren. They definitely gave up more talent for Haren than they received in exchange.

Jul 26, 2010 01:27 AM
rating: 1
 
baserip4

I find it extremely difficult to believe that this is "market rate," unless we're all extremely underselling Skaggs. A half season of Lee is worth Montero or Smoak (big league ready every day guys) but 2+ seasons of Haren is worth a pair of arms with upside to be not quite as good as Haren (plus Joe Saunders)? This feels like one of those crappy fantasy baseball trades that gets proposed and the owner trying to acquire Haren attempts to justify the deal by saying "But you're getting FOUR players!!!"

Jul 26, 2010 05:57 AM
rating: 8
 
Gregjitsu

This was my reaction, almost exactly. I looked at the names the Dbacks were getting back and said....'who?' As a Giants fan, it's nice to know that there will be at least one punching bag in the NLW. But man, I think Arizona got completely fleeced.

Jul 26, 2010 08:00 AM
rating: 1
 
Dano

And don't forget the Sabathia deal a couple of years ago when the Brewers gave up LaPorta (who was a top prospect at the time along the lines of Smoak), Zach Jackson, Rob Bryson and a PTBNL named Michael Brantley, who has some potential. Haren should have gotten Walden at least instead of Rodriguez.

Jul 26, 2010 09:52 AM
rating: 0
 
jdtk99

Haren had a partial no trade clause, which could have taken some contenders out of the bidding.

Jul 26, 2010 07:43 AM
rating: 1
 
baserip4

Is this true? Cot's doesn't report one.

Jul 26, 2010 08:35 AM
rating: 2
 
T. Kiefer

Yes--The Tigers were looking at Haren, and the official Tigers website noted that Haren had a no-trade clause to the Tigers he'd have to waive.

Jul 26, 2010 18:31 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

Let's dispense with "no trade" meaning there can be no trade--the existence of such a clause in any deal simply gains and gives the player leverage.

Jul 26, 2010 19:41 PM
 
nblascak

I agree with what Richard said above - in terms of talent given up vs. talent received, this feels an awful lot like the Teixeira trade for the Braves (sending out Andrus, Feliz, Harrison, and Salty essentially for Casey Kotchman).

That being said, I too really don't believe this could be the "market rate". Just looking at the Cliff Lee deal should tell us otherwise. With some big name FAs coming up this off-season, I would think Haren's trade value would be even higher then than now. Granted, I have no knowledge of the Diamondbacks' need/want to slash payroll, but I don't think this move needed to be made right at this moment.

Jul 26, 2010 07:46 AM
rating: 1
 
Ogremace

Is this deal better than what the Yankees could offer? By the sound of it, and from what was reported to be offered, Chamberlain, Nova, McAllister and Banuelos/Noesi would be slightly weaker at the ML level, though providing a pen arm which is really more vital, but stronger on future innings eaten.

I really wanted Cashman to get this deal done and seeing the almost nothing package the Angels surrendered makes it even worse.

Jul 26, 2010 10:16 AM
rating: 1
 
ScottyB

The question really is- couldn't 20 teams have made a better offer??!!

Really poor job by the rookie interim GM. I suppose the only way to justify it is if management forced him to cut x amount of payroll by y date.

DiPoto is shaping up to be as good a GM as he was player.

Jul 26, 2010 12:46 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Or the other teams made a better offer but DiPoto didn't realize it...

Jul 26, 2010 12:51 PM
rating: 0
 
ferret

Maybe there is a fear factor also in this deal - namely the concern that Haren's stats have been below par for over one year and there is an injury or something else happening. Haren has typically been a better first half pitcher but this season that has not been the case. Somehow this deal reminds me, in a bad way, of the Kazmir deal last season for the Angels.

Jul 26, 2010 11:46 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

I'm not sure there was a fear factor.. it didn't stop Lee's demotion a few years ago from affecting his trade value, nor Halladay's high inning count. The White Sox gave up a bit of talent to get an injured Jake Peavy who was out for most of 2009. I just think the D-backs overvalued Saunders and/or wanted major league ready talent so they didn't look like they were throwing in the towel completely, even if that major league talent wasn't that talented.

Jul 26, 2010 12:46 PM
rating: 0
 
Andrew
(38)

That's what was mentioned when they made the Jackson/Scherzer deal. And at first it looked like the D'backs sold high on Sherzer. Of course, which would you want now - 1.25 years of Jackson or 4.25 years of Scherzer?

Jul 26, 2010 13:02 PM
rating: 0
 
ScottyB

Wow, to downgrade from Haren & Scherezererzerzer to Jackson and Saunders. eeek

Jul 26, 2010 19:20 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

Too true. The problem is that you can't pin any of it on any one person, and collective guilt is sort of unfashionable. The coincidence that this is the Snakes' lot just serves as a reminder that, however much talent they have, they never did stand up or take a step forward beyond embarrassing the Cubs in the '07 NLDS.

Jul 26, 2010 19:43 PM
 
John Carter

When Kazmir was traded there were rumblings about his reduced stuff. Has anyone heard anything significant about Haren?

Dave Cameron of FanGraphs reports that Haren is coveted more by us stat dudes than by the scouting oriented insiders. It will be interesting to see who was right.

It seems the DBacks were asking for much more future value from the Tigers (Oliver and Turner). Perhaps, they're disappointed with Edwin Jackson and want Detroit to make up for him. Just kidding, of course, but either one of Oliver or Turner would have been a more valuable acquistion than anyone they actually received. As a Tigers fan, I'm shouting "foul"!

Jul 26, 2010 12:33 PM
rating: -1
 
calhounite

Saunders in a typical touchy-feely cracker jacks prize who touches the corners not because he has great command but because he knows those are the only strikes he can get away with. Don't touch, he' gonna feel a strong breeze by his neck. So those night doesn't have the feel (absolutely unpredictable) gonna slop a few rocks off the walls.

These guys are a dime a dozen, naw, cheaper than that since every box has to have a prize.

Jul 26, 2010 18:21 PM
rating: 0
 
sbnirish77

To what degree is this trade a correction of letting Lackey go. Seems that was on financial grounds. Hard to apply that same logic here. Could such a reversal only imply that the original thinking was just plain flawed?

Jul 26, 2010 20:34 PM
rating: 0
 
calhounite



Think that was due to knowing Lackey was nothing to write home about either. Regardless< Lackey would be way overpaid. Haren is an underpaid ace relative to the market as noted in the article. LA is relatively smart about pitching, knowing that there's actually no such thing as a pitching shortage, that journeymen limited to rhrowing around 88, can STILL get enough outs to be viable after years of honing their modest stuff, basically getting it over the plate. Palmer, for instance, a guy who probably has the worst stuff in the majors, can do a real good Saunders imitation.

Jul 26, 2010 21:42 PM
rating: -1
 
Richard Bergstrom

Lackey also was injured his last two years in Anaheim, not breaking 200 IP in 2008 or 2009, and he is two years older than Haren. Perhaps the Angels also thought they had the minor league talent to acquire Haren, Lee, or whomever they wanted without paying Lackey 18 mil for 2010 and 15.25 mil per year from 2011-2014. They might've also thought Kazmir could replace Lackey.

So, besides "we need a star pitcher" I don't think the original thinking was flawed. The Angels are better off with Haren (younger, more durable, lower salary) than they were with Lackey.

Jul 26, 2010 22:30 PM
rating: 0
 
sbnirish77

I thought the thinking was either 'we don't need as many star pitchers and don't need to replace him' or 'Kazmir can be a cheap replacement'.

Turns out, given their place in the standings, they find they do need another star pitcher and that Kazmir thing was dead wrong. Sounds like a reversal to me.

The point that Angels are buying two additional years in age and saving $10 mil this year and $2 mil in the next two years is well taken.

But they are paying that for a pitcher who at the present has #4 starter numbers (4.60 ERA) vs. the Red Sox paying that for someone who actually had #2 starter numbers (3.80)at the time.

I agree the two have morphed into the same pitcher AT THIS POINT IN TIME. But at the point the decisions were made, the mid-season Haren is simply worse than the 2009 end Lackey.

The people that love this trade willhave the expectation that Haren will return to form. The same expectation lent to the acqusition of Kazmir on a even younger / cheaper level. Seems if they are wrong on Haren, they just repeated the Kazmir mistake on a even higher level.





Jul 27, 2010 08:43 AM
rating: -3
 
pbconnection

Not to be a jerk, but this comment reeks of amateur level of knowledge about peripheral indicators. ERA is a terrible indicator of future success.

All of the indicators (factors directly controlled by Haren, BB, K, etc) show that Haren is even now pitching at a higher level than Lackey or Burnett did before they cashed in.

Kazmir was never the pinnacle of health, while Haren has started at least 33 games each year in recent memory.

None of your comparisons are remotely apples to apples. Read some articles and try again.

Jul 27, 2010 10:11 AM
rating: 0
 
sbnirish77

First of all, my major point was not whether Haren was better or worse than Lackey, but whether the Angles had reconsidered their decison not to replace Lackey's contribution (with something other than Kazmir) at the time they made that decision. I guess one could argue they were going to do this all along at mid-season, but that wait has probably cost them a lost year.

Secondly, I'm well aware of all the sabermetric metrics by which BP chooses to evaluate pitchers. There are plenty of statistics to indicate that Haren may not be the same pitcher of the last few years. The bottom line is that Lackey was pitching like a #2 at the end of last year and Haren is pitching like a #4 now by more than one metric.

Lackey 2009 .263 / .316 / .402 / .718
Haren 2010 .287 / .322 / .476 / .792

and both Lackey and Haren are fairly equivalent now

Lackey 2010 .285 / .352 / .424 / .776
Haren 2010 .287 / .322 / .476 / .792

Lackey at the end of last year was a better pitcher than Haren now. I would suggest that if you have some metrics that indicate otherwise perhaps you should question them.

Thirdly, I wasn't trying to predict which pitcher would be better. To the contrary, I was pointing out that anyone who thought this was a good trade was expecting (predicting?) a return to form for Haren.





Jul 27, 2010 11:06 AM
rating: -3
 
Richard Bergstrom

Sigh... I thought you were going to be reasonable, but I'll feed the beast.

To respond to your first point, the Angels were optimistic on how Kazmir would do who was less expensive than Lackey salary-wise. That doesn't mean they've "reversed" their direction, but his did not match up to their optimism. In addition, the Angels are not in first place and so, they saw an inexpensive route to improve on a hole in their rotation and they pursued it.

Secondly, you claim to know all the "sabermetric metrics" BP uses to evaluate pitchers... so naturally you cherry picked OPS without adjusting for league, park or year. So, to refute that Lackey is pitching like a #2 at the end of last year and Haren is pitching like a #4 now...

Lackey 2009 3.2 WARP (full season)
Lackey 2010 2.1 WARP (so far)
Haren 2010 2.9 WARP (so far)

Lackey 2009 1.9 BB/9 6.2 K/9
Lackey 2010 3.2 BB/9 4.8 K/9
Haren 2010 1.4 BB/9 8.0 K/9


To your third point, Haren was and is a better pitcher than Lackey, is younger, less expensive and has been more durable. Even if you ignore that (as you tend to snibberishly ignore context), and even if I somehow give you the benefit of the doubt that the Angels reversed direction on needing Lackey, it was still a good trade and I think the Angels would've done it even if they had Lackey, just as they picked up Kazmir last year when they already had a good rotation.

Jul 27, 2010 11:26 AM
rating: 0
 
sbnirish77

Sigh ... I thought you could make a response with without snide (snibberishly, feed the beast) but you could not.

Whatever economics favor Haren over Lackey ($ 10 mil advantage this year and $ 2 mil each of the next two years) are entirely cancelled by the mistake of Kazmir ($8 mil this year, $ 12 mil next year, and a $2.5 mil buyout).

So going with first Kazmir, and then Haren to fill a position really hasn't been a financial success.

If you have a different take on the Angels decision process .. fine. I just think the dominos didn't fall as they expected and are trying to rectify the mistakes. Actually I applaud them for not standing still but fear it is too late.

I think the Angels can be immune to some of the financial restrictions that other teams face. So it was surprising that they chose not to fill that hole at the time. They have paid for it dearly in the standings.

As far as stats, talk about cherry picking. Haren's HR rate is more than twice that of Lackey.

Lackey 2010 10 HRs in 128 IP 0.70 HR/9
Haren 2010 24 HRs in 145 IP 1.48 HR/9

I don't think there are any league or park adjusments that cancel a factor of 2.

Once again, I never said whether this was a good trade (from a talent perspective)going forward.

I never said Haren wouldn't return to form. I just said that for this trade to be considered a sucess Haren HAS to return to good form. Sounds pretty reasonable unless you think pitchers with a nearly 800 OPS will be worth 10 mil.







Jul 27, 2010 12:38 PM
rating: -2
 
Richard Bergstrom

I can make a response without being snide as my previous responses not only in this thread, but other threads have demonstrated... but generally it seems you latch on an opinion and stick with it regardless of what is said, which is probably a factor in why you think I'm only being snide as well... after all, if what I say can't get across to you, then I might as well poke a little fun in the meantime. What, do you think I haven't used "feed the beast" or "snibberish" before? I guarantee you, I have before :)

But, you do seem to want to engage in a discussion, so I'll do my best to give you some benefit of the doubt.

Even if the Angels had retained Lackey, they still would be in the same position of needing a pitcher because of Kazmir's performance. So I don't look at it as a Lackey vs Haren discussion but whether getting Haren was a good idea or not. I think it is. The decision not to retain Lackey gave them more flexibility though, which enabled them to pursue Haren.

As far as Haren's merits go, I think Christina portrayed them well...

"He's leading the league in strikeouts, and managing an impressive strikeout rate of 23.2 percent despite having to work with a defense that has provided him with a career-worst .341 BABIP allowed—which makes for longer innings and more batters faced, making Haren's relatively stable strikeout clip that much more impressive. That said, that poor defensive support might go towards explaining why Haren has allowed a career-worst 10.2 percent of his fly balls to leave play as homers—while he's throwing the same average number of pitches per batter, because of all those uncaught balls in play he's not getting as deep into his ballgames while nevertheless facing more batters per game. That means more batters faced in tougher situations, and that's happening earlier on in his ballgames.

That said, this isn't the only challenge Haren has had to overcome. His overall numbers have been handicapped by almost every possible challenge attendant to pitching for a bad ballclub, all of which contributes to a SIERA (3.16) almost a full run and a half below his ERA (4.60). The Snakes' bullpen and his managers' adaptations to the issue are just one example of what he's had to work around—despite just 11 quality starts in 21 in terms of raw tallies, he has an additional three blown after the sixth inning. So, without even getting into the full extent of the damage, you're talking about a starter who has managed quality starts two-thirds of the time out in what is seen as a massively disappointing season—that while pitching in a bandbox, while pitching in front of a lousy defense, and while having to be left out in his games longer than ever before by skippers trying to avoid turning games over to the worst bullpen of the last 60 years, or what effectively amounts to the worst bullpen ever."

Note that she addressed home run rate, inflated ERA, and OPS via bad defense and bad BABIP. So the underlying argument is whether Haren "has to return to good form"... and the argument she has made with SIERA and BABIP and the arguments I have made with WARP, BB/9 and K/9 indicate he is _already_ in good form, especially if Lackey is considered the "standard" you use for "good form".

Jul 27, 2010 16:15 PM
rating: 1
 
FLeghorn

This is probably a simplified point, but I'll make it, because I'm a simple man.
Would you trade Dan Haren for John Lackey?
I'd guess most would say 'no.' I don't guess this is all that relevant, of course. But, I think particulary in how little they gave up, the Angels did very well. The D-Backs seem to be stumbling further backwards with every move they make. Most of the young talent they were meant to be building around a few years back have proven to be one-hit wonders ( in the sense that, Upton aside, few of them ever get more than one hit in a game ). That team is a real mess. As a Rockies fan, I'm fully aware of diminished returns of heavily-hyped prospects.

Jul 27, 2010 16:29 PM
rating: 0
 
sbnirish77

"What, do you think I haven't used "feed the beast" or "snibberish" before? I guarantee you, I have before :)"

I am well aware that you have used such terms in the past and have chosen to ignore it. But characterizing other people as 'beasts' and dissenting opinions from yours as 'snibberish' is a poor reflection on yourself.

"But, you do seem to want to engage in a discussion, so I'll do my best to give you some benefit of the doubt."

My initial post and reply was to pbconnection. You chose to draw yourself into the discussion with the accusation of cherry-picking stats.

I replied to you to only point out that you were doing the very same thing and to correct the misrepresentations of my views in your comments.

As I have said a few times, my major point was that the evaluation of this trade should have included a contrast to the Angel mindset at the time they let Lackey (and Figgins) go on the basis of financial considerations. Christina did not include this point. Brining it up for discussion should not open someone to ridicule.

I never said Lackey was better than Haren in the past. Nor did I say he would be better than him in the future. But somehow you seem to be characterizing my comments as such.

I do maintain that they are pretty much the same now with both being worse than Lackey at the end of the year.

If you chose to accept all the BP stats as gospel thats fine. I don't. Obviously you accept the points that Christina made as gospel. I think its a big strech to make an 800 OPS pitcher a good one. Simple disagreement. No need to start a verbal tit for tat for it.

And if everyone accepted everything written here, well, there would be no point to a discussion board would there?





Jul 27, 2010 18:56 PM
rating: -3
 
Richard Bergstrom

The beast wasn't actually my idea starting out... though I didn't mean you are a beast. I'm sure you're a fine human being... I just meant the mood of the conversation as the beast, so my apologies.

Your initial post was "To what degree is this trade a correction of letting Lackey go." and I had replied to that one. Then you started another thread. Then another.

I do like that you brought up Lackey and I don't believe I portrayed any ridicule in my original response "Lackey also was injured his last two years in Anaheim,", but you seem so deadset that giving up Lackey was "wrong" and that Lackey is better than Haren regardless of what Christina or I or pbconnection (whom I have disagreed with in the past) or anyone else said that it started getting ridiculous. And if you remember what I say as well as you claim you do, then you should know I've called Christina and other writers to task when I've disagreed with them. What they write, I don't take as gospel any more than I take your preaching about BP's West Coast bias.

So to sum up, I'm glad you brought up Lackey and I do like discussion, but discussion should be a bit interactive with listening to what other people say. You dismissed what pbconnection said, what I said, what Christina said and what others have said, yet claim to know all of BP's metrics even when they are used to refute what you are saying... and this isn't the first thread you've done that with... so sometimes I feel you get so bit holier than thou that your pontificating falls on deaf pews.

Jul 27, 2010 20:45 PM
rating: 0
 
sbnirish77

"but you seem so deadset that giving up Lackey was "wrong" and that Lackey is better than Haren regardless .., that it started getting ridiculous."

That is simply an incorrect inference from what I said. And it is such misrepresentations that I feel compeled to correct.

For the 4th time

I never said Lackey was better than Haren at any point in the past.
I never said Lackey will be better than Haren in the future.

I did say a 2009 Lackey (.718 OPS) is better than a 2010 Haren (.792 OPS) in the context of the information available when the Red Sox and Angels both made these decisions. That might disagee with the analysis of Christina, pbconnection, and yourself but it is hardly ridiculous.

Quite the contrary, if someone is going to make the case that a .792 OPS pitcher is better than .718 OPS pitcher I think the onus is on them. Perhaps Haren's low SIERA would make a good article showing how all the factors cited by Christina thatlower the ERA to the SIERA.

I did make one statement that you obviously disagree with ...

"Thirdly, I wasn't trying to predict which pitcher would be better. To the contrary, I was pointing out that anyone who thought this was a good trade was expecting (predicting?) a return to form for Haren."

My understanding of your position is that Haren does not need to return to form, that given the secondary peripherals, those numbers will follow on their own. I just don't agree with you unless that HR rate of 1.5 per 9 goes down. That number is just outside that which can be explained by those secondary peripherals.

The more global question for me was the schizophrenic ways the Angels spend their money. If letting Lackey (and Figgins) go for financial reasons, then the combo of Kazmir and Haren isn't cost effective.

If letting Lackey go was for for talent reasons (I'm sure Scioscia didn't share BP's view of his shortcomings), then not replacing him put them behind the 8 ball this year.

I just think they had a plan, it didn't work out, and they are trying to make an adjustment (correction?).









Jul 28, 2010 08:19 AM
rating: -3
 
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