The New York Yankees head into November facing a ton of personnel questions, especially with 13 free agents hitting the open market this Saturday. And while many of these questions will take months to fully answer, there is one answer being prepped for the showcase right now.
It was reported today that Los Angeles Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto is looking to dump pitchers Ervin Santana and Dan Haren in order to both shed payroll and possibly make a run at retaining free agent Zack Greinke. While Santana doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for the Yankees – he’s a rich man’s Danny Cabrera who will no doubt implode under the scrutiny of the relentless New York media – Dan Haren is a whole different beast.
There is no question that Haren, 31, wasn’t wowing anyone in 2012 (176.2 IP, 12-13, 4.33, 142 K’s). Whenever he seemed to be turning the corner and reverting back to the dominant pitcher he was in 2011, the nagging back injury resurfaced and his progress was derailed. And it’s also no secret that he’s lost a tick on his fastball for the third consecutive season. Throw in his susceptibility to the long ball and it’s readily apparent that the Angels don’t value him as a $15MM+ pitcher per season. They probably think this past season is less a blip on the radar and more a sign of things to come, and considering some of the facts, who can blame them?
But for what Haren lacks in overall dominance, he makes up for in command and intelligence. On the mound, he has a bulldog attitude, mixes up five ‘plus’ pitches for strikes, and prior to last season, was one of the best workhorse right-handed pitchers in baseball–he averaged 226 IP per season for seven straight seasons. He also avoids free passes, routinely ranking in MLB‘s Top 10 for BB/9 among starting pitchers.
If the season started today, the Yankees rotation would be CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, David Phelps, and probably someone like Adam Warren, who has a whole 2.1 big-league innings under his belt. Obviously, this won’t be the case come March, but the Yankees need to be prepared should Hiroki Kuroda decide to head back West or if Andy Pettitte opts for retirement again.
If they aren’t proactive and don’t go after an effective starter like Haren now, they could find themselves in the same predicament they were in back in March 2011. No fan, executive or owner wants to see spare parts making up 2/5 of the rotation, especially not a franchise with the highest payroll in baseball.
The Yankees need arms, plain and simple. Dan Haren is available at a bargain price. It makes more sense to begin tinkering with their rotation sooner rather than later, otherwise, fans could be rooting for pitchers like Jeff Francis and Erik Bedard every fourth and fifth day.
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