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Dan Haren

What lies ahead for the Dodgers this offseason?

To date, I still haven’t watched Game 6 of the NLCS. Clayton getting hammered along with the Satan’s Redbirds celebrating in front of their faces isn’t anything I’m tempted to see. Still, as a lifelong Dodgers fan, I still feel compelled to feel the deep, searing pain that my brethren felt that night, like a case of viral meningitis to my Dodger Blue spine.
 
But thus far, I’ve left that noose on my DVR for another day. I’ve been instead looking towards this offseason, hoping that the Guggenheim Group’s second offseason as owners of the Dodgers can put them one step closer to a title—hell, at this point, I’ll be happy with a mere pennant. After all, I haven’t seen the Dodgers win one since I was four years old.
 
LA went into the winter with remarkably few holes. As I noted in my hazy post-mortem piece days after Michael Wacha threw a curveball into my soul, the most frustrating part of the Dodgers’s playoff run was that aside from being luckier, there wasn’t much the team could do to improve upon last year’s team. Without an errant Joe Kelly fastball to Hanley’s ribs, a better bounce off the Busch Stadium outfield and one key pinch running substitution, the Dodgers could very well have gone to the World Series. My bleeding blue heart, it seems, was the victim of a luck.
 
That being said, there aren’t a lot of ways GM Ned Colletti could improve on this team. Many incumbents are staying put, and further salary commitments have finished nailing down most starting roles: first base, shortstop, catcher, all three outfield positions, closer and three starting pitching slots.… Read more...

MLB Winter Meeting Wrap-Up – New Signings, Fact or Fiction?


The MLB winter meetings have adjourned, and even though OF Josh Hamilton and SP Zack Greinke–the two best free agents on the market–still remain unsigned, several key players made themselves some solid scratch joining new teams. 
Of course, we had our usual mixed bags of bone-head deals and virtuoso acquisitions. Some new contracts screamed “Fiction!”, while other ones roared “Fact”. That being said, let’s take a look at the best and worst signings–MAMBINO certified–of the MLB Winter Meetings.
FACT
Seattle Mariners get:  OF Jason Bay
Jason Bay gets: 1 year, $1 million (plus $2 million in incentives), another chance at relevancy
It’s no secret; Jason Bay could very well be finished as an everyday baseball player. After a monster year and a half in Boston where he hit 47 home runs with 46 additional extra-base hits and a 7th place MVP finish in 2009, Bay signed a 4-year, $66 million dollar contract with the pre-Mayan Disaster Mets. In the next three seasons, the Canadian outfielder had only 26 jakks and 47 extra-base hits, missing almost 200 games due to various injuries. The Mets, hurting for offensive talent in the worst way, thought they’d gain more by simply buying Bay out of his last contract year, and allowing younger, albeit more inexperienced and lower ceiling players to get reps instead. Essentially, the Mets paid Bay to go away, which is what I’ll say while I’m eating hay on this fine day.
After being hit with injury after injury, including a post-concussion symptoms and oblique issues, the now former Met reminded people more of MAMBINO whipping boy Endy Chavez than Jason Bay. However, he’s only 34 years old, has a keen batting eye and knows that this will be his last major league contract if he doesn’t produce. For the risk that the offense-strapped Mariners took, which is extremely low, this could end up paying huge dividends. From a sheer risk/reward ratio, this was a fantastic signing for Seattle.
FICTION
Anaheim Angels get: SP Joe Blanton
Joe Blanton gets: 2 years, $15 million, laughter of Phillies and Dodgers fans everywhere
Let’s be straight here; Joe Blanton isn’t terrible. He’s just wildly, incredibly, steadfastly mediocre. He’s thrown at least 175 innings every year of his career but one, but has averaged 200 innings on the whole. Blanton won’t wow you in any fashion: he’s strikes out a solid but unspectacular 6 per 9 innings and generally limits his walks to 2 per 9 innings. As was pointed out to me my ardent Halos fan and my Silver Screen and Roll colleague Ben, Blanton’s advance metrics point to the fact that his ERA wasn’t nearly as bad as his Dodgers’ mark of 4.99–he simply was unlucky. However, when you look at his numbers the pas
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2013 Free Agency Preview for the Los Angeles Dodgers

Back in April, in my giddiness emanating from the great emancipation from Frank McCourt, I wrote a lengthy article looking forward to this winter and the potential free agents a newly fiscally robust Dodgers team could invest in.

Little did I know that Mark Walter, Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson had more immediate plans in mind.

At the beginning of 2012, the Dodgers were without solutions at left field, third base, catcher and the back end of the rotation and an unsure future with the incumbents at first base and shortstop. Few offensive reinforcements were coming up through the minor leagues, so to very professionally summarize, the Boys in Blue were screwed.

Now, after two massive trades and the emergence of two unexpected life-long farm hands, the Dodgers are set at every position player on the diamond. Upgrades could be had at third and catcher, but if the Dodgers were to stay pat, most fans should feel comfortable with the players at hand.

Looking at this offseason, I earmarked pitching as the biggest probable targets for the team, even though the Dodgers had (and still have) such little offensive firepower in their minors. Starting pitchers Cole Hamels and Matt Cain have since been locked up to long-term deals, as well as second baseman Brandon Phillips and third baseman David Wright has had this 2013 option picked up, as the Mets continue to negotiate with him on an extension.

LA fell a couple games short of the Wild Card playoff game, so even as the team will naturally improve with greater continuity of a more settled squad, free agent additions should be made to bolster the team. It still feels foreign that payroll isn’t even something to consider any longer, because in the words of Mark Walter, the payroll ceiling is in the nebulous region of “Somewhere…I suppose”. Luckily for the Dodgers, the team doesn’t have a whole lot of holes, and most of these targets are merely “wish list” items, rather than absolute necessities. GM Ned Colletti did a lot of his winter shopping in season and picked up several high priced items, so for better or worse, the team will be surfing the season with Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez.

An already thin farm system has been cleared out in recent months, so a trade for an elite player is unlikely. Chavez Ravine is awash in cash these days like a giant safe in Duckberg, so simply buying talent is most likely the best avenue for this team to improve.

Looking at the ace free agent listings from mlbtraderumors.com, let’s shoot off MAMBINO’s top free agent targets for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 2012 offseason:

1. SP Zack Greinke, Anaheim Angels

His Deal: Greinke is the number one pitcher on the market, and arguably the most sought after free agent. This isn’t to disparage Josh Hamilton, but between his shaky health history, contract demands and lack of teams that can satisfy them, many more teams are in play for Greinke rather than the Rangers’ center fielder. He’s going to ask for a five or six year deal (maybe as many as seven years) at around $20 million a year. It’s not going to be cheap.

Why the Dodgers Would Want Him: But he’s a 29 year old pitcher in his prime. Since his AL Cy Young win for the Royals in 2009 during his age 25 season, Greinke has pitched to a 3.37 ERA, averaging nearly a strikeout per inning, and less than a hit per inning. I don’t buy that the right-hander is declining, as almost every metric from last season was on par or slightly better last year while splitting time between Milwauke… Read more...

Instant Trade Analysis: Dan Haren to the Chicago Cubs

(Editor’s note: This trade was consummated last night….for about two hours. The Cubs pulled out of the deal late, and as a result, Haren was still an Angel…for another hour. 

The deadline for Anaheim GM Jerry DiPoto to exercise a $15.5 million dollar option for Haren’s 2013 season was 9pm PT, and thus the mad rush to try and trade him. However, after such a poor 2012 and a very expensive price tag, DiPoto declined and thus, the right-handed pitcher is now a free agent and could leave the Halos for nothing. Even for as badly as Anaheim wanted to trade him, ironically Haren becomes one of the biggest free agents on the 2012 winter market

But this was a pretty sweet trade analysis post. Take a look into an alternate reality where this happened)

Anaheim Angels get: RP Carlos Marmol

Chicago Cubs get: SP Dan Haren

A little less than a year ago the Los Angeles Angels appeared to be the front-runners for the American League pennant. And that was before they traded for a 28-year-old former Cy Young Award winner and before we knew that they had the best 20-year-old ever to play the game.

Once again though in the beautiful world of sports we found out that’s why they play the game. Josh Reddick and the Oakland A’s took the AL West division crown and Albert Pujols watched his old team come within one game of going back to the World Series without him. Pujols, Mike Trout and the Angels will certainly not be taken lightly again next year, but if they could not win with Dan Haren, it’s hard to see how they get better without him.
Even with a down year, Dan Haren was valuable to the Angels. His ERA was a quarter of a run higher than league average, but he has had rough years and bounced back before. The year he was originally traded to the Angels back in 2010 his ERA was actually very close to the league average. His strikeout to walk rate would indicate that nothing is too wrong with his efficiency. Again it was just a slightly down year, but the Angels had to make a decision.
They already are paying C.J. Wilson $11 million next season and $16 million after that…and then still money for another two years after that. Jered Weaver will make $17 million per year the next couple of seasons. Arte Moreno has deep pockets, but there’s a limit to everything.  Haren was due $15.5 million if the Angels picked up his option for this season. With Zack Greinke a free agent right now, the Angels apparently had to make a choice and they are rolling the dice on Greinke. If no money is exchanged (and the report is that this is a straight swap) the Angels will wind up saving about $6 million for this season.
On the other end of this trade, Theo Epstein and the Cubs got an amazing deal. There is a reason that the Cubs have had to turn to players like Rafael Dolis and James Russell in save situations; Carlos Marmol has been prone to horrible runs of inconsistency with finding the strike zone. In a city that doesn’t need another reason to lose faith the last thing they need to see to start a ninth i… Read more...