Saturday, August 17, 2013

Should The Yankees Trade For Dan Haren?

Three days ago Dan Haren cleared waivers, and since then a lot of Yankees fans have talked about the possibilities of the Yankees trading for the Nationals' right-hander. 

"Look into my eyes."

If you look at his totals for this season, they aren't very impressive. Haren's ERA this season sits at 4.82, which is not a whole lot better than Phil Hughes' ERA of 4.97. If you take into account that Dan would be moving from the National League to the American, then I wouldn't blame people for wondering if Haren and Hughes are pretty much one in the same.

But they're not.

For one, Haren doesn't walk as many batters. Phil is walking 2.5 batters per nine innings, while Dan's rate is currently only 1.7 per nine. It's not like Hughes is having a strange season in that department, as just a couple of seasons ago that rate was a career-high 3.3. Meanwhile, Haren has never had a BB/9 higher than 1.5 in his entire career. 

The biggest difference between those two pitchers is what they've done lately.

In July and August, spanning eight starts, Phil Hughes has an ERA of 5.27. On top of that high ERA, opposing batters are hitting .290/.339/.537 off of him during that time frame. His only quality starts then are against two struggling teams... the Twins on July 2nd, and the Angels a couple of nights ago. Notice the time between those quality starts too.

Meanwhile, Dan Haren has only thrown seven starts since the beginning of July. But in those 7 starts you'll see quite a gap between him and Hughes. Haren's ERA during that stretch is 2.30, while opposing hitters have only managed a batting line of .191/.250/.283. Only once in those seven games did Dan fail to go at least 6 innings, as he was only in for 5 innings against the Pirates on July 22nd. I wish I could give him a free pass on that start, but even though Pittsburgh is in first place in the NL East, they still have a poor offense (they've only scored 471 runs this season, which is actually less than the Yankees).

"LESS than the Yankees? Yikes."

By the way... Haren has 10 more strikeouts during that time, and that's in one less start. At the same time, Danny has 2 less walks as well. Not that it's all rosey, because Dan Haren is prone to the long-ball just like NOT-Philthy (yes, I know that not long ago I fought for Hughes, but alas... I was wrong). While Phil's home run rate is 1.7 per nine innings, Haren's is right there at 1.6. However, while Phil's rate has risen in each of the last three years, Haren is only a couple of seasons removed from a rate of only .8 home runs per nine innings. So I can see Dan improving in that department.

Now that we've seen that Dan Haren would be a big improvement over Phil Hughes in the rotation, the question is... what would it take?

Well, I looked at who the Nationals will have around next year, when they'll surely try and compete again. The fact is, they won't have many holes to fill. 

The only offensive roles that may need to fill are a backup catcher, as Kurt Suzuki is likely headed to free agency as he hasn't been good enough for the Nats to pickup his $8.5 million option for 2014. And since Danny Espinosa has been awful, Washington may be interested in a backup shortstop as well. 

Therefore, Francisco Cervelli, who the Yankees may want to deal away due to his connection with Biogenesis, seems like a viable candidate for trade. However, I'm not so sure about that. If Wilson Ramos had been replacement level, then I could see that team's desire to have a good alternative behind the dish. But the 25 year-old has held his own with the bat, so I wouldn't expect the Nationals to be interested in Cervelli or any other catcher.

The only real trade chip the Yankees have at shortstop is Eduardo Nunez, and I use the term "real" very loosely here. I can't see Nunez attracting much attention at all, thanks to him simply being a bad hitter. A triple-slash of .262/.310/.369 in 713 MLB plate appearances is not going to make anybody's mouth water. On top of that, the Yankees may need Nunez around since Derek Jeter may not be able to handle that many games as the starter at short.

That leaves us with pitching, where the Nationals will need to look at a 5th starter. They have Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman, Ross Detwiler, and of course Stephen Strasburg for the rotation next year. Then again, Ross Ohlendorf has looked good this season, even in his two starts. But I can't help to think they would rather keep him in the bullpen. So I'm sure the right starting pitcher would pique their interests.

Like any team, Washington wouldn't mind picking up another bullpen piece. And that's where a deal for a starter could work out, since if the guy they trade for can't handle starting, they can always send him to the bullpen to see if they can get some value out of the guy. 

That's why I'm thinking of offering Washington Adam Warren.

"At least he doesn't want to send me to Boston. Ewwww."

Warren has an ERA of 4.32 in 58.1 innings in Major League Baseball. That doesn't look great, but keep in mind that that number is skewed thanks to a horrible one-game debut in 2012, in which he got shelled by the White Sox (6 ER, 8 H, 2 BB, and only 1 K in 2.1 innings). But in 2013 Adam's ERA is 3.54 after 14 relief appearances. And don't worry about his ability to start, as he started 53 games between 2011 and 2012 in AAA, where his ERA was 3.66.

Add in the fact that Adam Warren is only 25 years old, meaning he could improve on those numbers (not to mention joining an easier league to pitch in), and I think we have a solid trade on our hands.

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