November 3, 2012
What We Would Have Said About the Dan Haren Deal That Didn't Happen
On Friday night, it was reported by several sources that the Angels and Cubs had agreed to swap starter Dan Haren—whose $15.5 option for 2013 was due to be picked up or declined by 12 AM ET—for reliever Carlos Marmol. Ultimately, the Cubs pulled the offer off the table, killing the deal, and the Angels declined Haren’s option, making him a free agent. But before that happened, Colin Wyers wrote up a reaction to the rumored transaction. This is what we would have said had the trade gone through.
Did not acquire RHP Carlos Marmol from the Cubs for RHP Dan Haren and cash. [11/2]
Watching Carlos Marmol try to close out a game is a lot like watching an execution by firing squad where the riflemen have been given the blindfolds instead of the condemned man. Marmol is erratic, leading major-league pitchers with an 18.2 percent walk rate in 2012 (minimum 50 innings pitched). He still manages to strike out nearly twice as many hitters as he walks, so he’s not useless, but he is maddening. He did manage to rack up 20 saves in 2012, which was surprising given that he lost the closer’s role for much of the season due to ineffectiveness and the Cubs had a hard time getting to the ninth inning with a lead.
It’s unclear what this means for Ernesto Frieri, who has outpitched Marmol the past several seasons. (Even if you look at save percentage, the two were within a percentage point of each other in 2012.) Either way, Marmol would give the Angels more bullpen depth, but this isn’t a terrible pen, nor is it one without a reasonable option at closer.
More puzzling than what the Angels want with Marmol is what exactly they’re doing with their starting pitching, given that they already dealt Ervin Santana to the Royals this offseason. To be sure, Haren was hurt and not up to his usual standards in 2012, and Santana was just bad. But with Zach Greinke possibly departing via free agency, the Angels could be looking at the departure of three members of their starting rotation in one offseason. They were unlikely to pick up the options on Haren or Santana, but this rules out the possibility of working out deals with either pitcher. It’s too early in the offseason to tell where things are going, but it’s a big question mark for a team that was a playoff contender until late in 2012.
Did not acquire RHP Dan Haren and cash from the Angels for RHP Carlos Marmol. [11/2]
This shouldn’t be confused with the last time Jerry Dipoto traded Dan Haren; he’s no longer the pitcher he once was, and he’s coming off the worst season of at least 100 innings of his career. More disconcerting, Haren lost nearly 20 games in 2012 to lower back problems.
That said, even if Haren just repeats his 2012 performance or backslides, he’ll be an improvement over much of what the Cubs ran out last season. Chicago’s pitching staff in 2012 was a reenactment of the Charge of the Light Brigade—a bunch of young conscripts, totally unprepared, were sent out against a much better prepared force and took heavy losses as a result with little to show for it. A diminished Haren still shows good odds of improving on that.