Why Dan Haren?

The funny thing is, the know-it-all pundits are generally saying it’s a good deal, and a bargain.

Jonah Karl tweeted “Love Dan Haren at 1 year, $10 million. Even with every team drowning in money, looks like there are bargains to be had”, and Jason Martinez tweeted “…thought he’d get 3 yrs and $39-45M. Great signing by #Dodgers.”

Seriously?

There is no denying that three years ago Haren was one of baseball’s top starters, and in 2011, local radio guys were even saying he was the Angels’ ace (yea, better than Jered



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Weaver). In 2011 he went 16-10 with a 3.17 ERA and 192 strikeouts against only 33 walks. You do have to give him credit for his great control. In fact, he has never walked more than 55 in any season, normally pitching over 200 innings.

Things went downhill fast in 2012 for Haren, and he spent some time on the DL after a horrible start. He ended the year 12-13, adding a full run to his ERA which went up to 4.33. Still he walked only 38 in 176 IP. The Angels had no interest in re-signing him for

2013, and he found a spot with Washington, at $13 M for one season. What followed was a disaster for the Nats, who went into the season with aspirations centering on the World Series. Haren had a miserable first half. On July 22, he was 4-11 with a 5.79 ERA. He improved, with the rest of the club over the second half, finishing at 10-14 and 4.67. Still, in 169.2 IP he walked only 31.

Again, his team cared not to keep him, and the Dodgers grabbed him up off the free agent market, at a cool $10 M for 2014. Seems to me to be a big risk for a guy who has gone so far downhill.

One plus the Dodgers do get with Haren is yet another great hitting pitcher, to go with baseball’s best in Zack Greinke and the solid


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Hyun-jin Ryu. Over Haren’s three seasons hitting regularly while with Arizona, he batted .265, and he has a lifetime .215 average.

The Dodgers’ big three of Kershaw, Greinke, and Ryu are certainly set, and one would guess they now have little interest in re-signing last season’s second-half number four, Ricky Nolasco. Reportedly he wants four years around $13 M per, and a couple of teams like the Giants and Twins might be willing to go that high and that long. After that, the Dodgers appear to be relying on a comeback from at least one of last year’s seriously injured duo of Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett. I’d bet on Billingsley making a full recovery, but not being in form until late May or June. Beckett, however, I’d bet has started his last game for LA. So, while at some point in the season they may well have five solid starters, Stephen Fife, or maybe Masahiro Tanaka, could be in the rotation early in the season.

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