Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com recently opined that the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (most ridiculous name ever) could “cut ties” with Dan Haren and Ervin Santana in order to free up some money for a multi-year deal with Zack Greinke. That begs the question, should the Yankees take flyer on Haren?
The Yankees were set up with a ton of pitching back in March after Andy Pettitte decided to come out of retirement. That event was preceded by the free agent signing of Hiroki Kuroda, and the trade for young upstart, Michael Pineda. Furthermore, with rotation holdovers CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia, and Phil Hughes, the rotation looked jam-packed. However, as the season played out, some were lost to injury (Pineda, Pettitte) and others to ineffectiveness (Nova, Garcia).
With only Sabathia and Hughes definitely returning to the rotation next year, we can look at potential outside candidates to fill out the rotation. Now, I’m not implying that this is how the Yankees should pursue this, but merely throwing it out there for discussion. Both Pettitte and Kuroda could presumably call it a career and move on (probably not, they’ll both likely re-sign). Meanwhile, there’s a big question mark concerning Nova and where he’ll start the season in 2013, and Pineda won’t be back until late May.
So that brings us to the 32-year-old Haren who isn’t the all-star pitcher he was with the Oakland A’s and Arizona Diamondbacks in the mid-2000′s, but he might be of some use as a third or fourth starter in the rotation. Firstly, the Yankees could presumably pick him up for cheap considering he’ll be a buy-low candidate, much like Freddy Garcia was when he signed in 2011. So let’s dig into some stats, shall we?
First, let’s take a look at his career platoon splits:
|vs RHB as RHP||293||3808||3572||398||950||182||15||109||5.49||.266||.298||.417||1489||.306|
|vs LHB as RHP||293||3905||3593||373||858||193||25||108||3.19||.239||.290||.397||1425||.280|
The data we can take from this is; he’s been pretty tough against lefties over his career, to the tune of a .239/.290/.397 slash line. That’s especially important for a pitcher in Yankee Stadium. Throughout his career he’s relied on pitches with heavy sink in order to induce ground balls (43.2% career GB%), which again, would play very well in the Bronx. Overall, throughout his career he’s pitched to a 3.66 ERA (3.64 FIP).
Those numbers have trended in the wrong direction this season. In fact, his greatest asset (GB%) is the worst of his career (39.7%) in 2012. We’ve seen it countless times, the older a sinkballer gets, the less his ball tumbles and it’s left up in the zone on a tee for hitters. His 4.32 ERA (4.30 FIP) this season, is the worst of his career. While he’s only age 32, he’s not going to get any better, but you can see some hope for the veteran.
|vs RHB as RHP||28||337||312||45||101||17||0||12||3.64||.324||.347||.494||154||.348|
|vs LHB as RHP||28||362||332||36||76||20||2||14||3.33||.229||.282||.428||142||.259|
The numbers above are his 2012 statistics. First, he’s still tough on lefties, which is a great sign if he ever had any aspirations of pitching well in the Bronx. Secondly, his numbers against righties is fueled much by an elevated BABIP. A quick look at his batted ball numbers indicates that he’s not giving up a ton of line drives, at least not out of the norm by his career numbers.
If there’s a knock on Haren, other than his subpar 2012 season, it’s his diminishing stuff. His fastball velocity has dropped from 90.0 mph in 2011, to 88.5 mph this season. That’s a significant decrease, which could spell trouble for the right-hander. For comparison’s sake, Haren has never been a fireballer and he has a repertoire much like Freddy Garcia, but that significant of a drop throws up a red flag immediately.
That being said, should the Yankees take a flyer on Dan Haren and maybe catch lightning in a bottle, a la Bartolo Colon and Garcia circa 2011? I think it’s a decent option if the Yankees feel their 2013 rotation isn’t up to snuff. They’ll give Pineda EVERY opportunity to succeed once he returns, but will Hughes and Nova continue on their respective paths and ensure their spot in the rotation going forward? Furthermore, will Pettitte and/or Kuroda even be back in 2013? Much is unknown, but the Yankees should at least kick the tires if the opportunity presents itself.