As inconspicuous as White Sox GM Ken Williams was last summer in his trade for Jake Peavy was Angels general manager, Tony Reagins, Sunday, when he emerged out of nowhere to win the Dan Haren sweepstakes.
The good news is that Haren obviously won’t pitch against Cole Hamels Tuesday night, and that his presence will not impact the Phillies for several years. The bad news is that the package the Angels sent to the Diamondbacks was so incredibly light that it surely could have been topped by Ruben Amaro.
Saunders was good one time in his career, 2008, when he went 17-7 with a 3.41 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. In every other year, his low-strikeout, mediocre-walk, high-home run stuff has led to poor, inconsistent performance.
Saunders is basically a slightly enhanced American League version of Kyle Kendrick. Don’t believe me? Take a look:
- Saunders: 1.39 WHIP, 9.5 H/9, 1.1 HR/9, 3.0 BB/9, 5.1 K/9
- Kendrick: 1.41 WHIP, 10.1 H/9, 1.3 HR/9, 2.6 BB/9, 4.0 K/9
This isn’t a “centerpiece” player. In lame-duck GM Jerry DiPoto’s press conference, he noted that Saunders was an attractive commodity because of his 54-32 win-loss record. Big deal.
The guy’s had an ERA below league average in three of five years, and an ERA right at league average in another. He pitched for a team that won games, so he racked up wins. Let’s have a party.
In essence, the Phillies could have topped the Angels’ offer with a package of J.A. Happ, Scott Mathieson, and JC Ramirez. Happ is equivalent to Saunders and MUCH cheaper – which is extremely important since Arizona’s main priority was dumping salary, – Mathieson is equal to Rafael Rodriguez, and Ramirez could have easily taken the place of Patrick Corbin.
When Haren spoke to the media, he mentioned that the past few days have been a whirlwind, noting “first I thought I was headed to New York, then Philly, but now I’m heading home to Anaheim.” Nobody will ever know how far the talks between the Phillies and Diamondbacks got, but Haren was a better buy than Roy Oswalt even before the low pricetag became public domain.
The Dbacks undervalued their own ace and they will pay the price. I sincerely hope Jerry DiPoto enjoys the legacy he just built for himself as the interim GM that traded an ace for three cents on the dollar.
Back to Oswalt
With Haren off the market, all attention will now turn back to Roy Oswalt. The Phillies have made it clear that they are not searching for a middle-of-the-rotation starter – they want a front-end guy.
On Sunday, Ken Rosenthal wrote that the Cardinals and Dodgers are “having trouble matching up with the Astros,” and that the Phillies “remain in the best position” to deal for Oswalt.
Any trade would likely include J.A. Happ, but, heck, given the absurdly low return for Haren, the Phils might not even have to move the recently awoken Jayson Werth (whom Ruben Amaro is reportedly changing his mind about from day-to-day.)
The above conjecture is a longshot, and just because DiPoto undervalued Haren does not mean Ed Wade will do the same with Oswalt, but it would be hard to justify giving up more than the Angels did for an older, more expensive, similarly effective righthanded starting pitcher.
A package of Happ, Single-A first baseman Jonathan Singleton – who is hitting .309/.417/.541, with 12 homers and 57 RBI for Lakewood, – JC Ramirez, and one other player may be enough to land Oswalt. It wouldn’t be the first time Wade made an ostensibly curious move, and it would not be the first time a rival GM overrated Happ. We shall see.
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