Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson Signed: L.A. Angels Should Now Deal Dan Haren
With Thursday's signings of first baseman Albert Pujols and starting pitcher C.J. Wilson, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have stacked their lineup.
Pujols' deal is for 10 years, between $250 million and $260 million and includes a full no-trade clause.
Wilson's deal is for five years, $77.5 million and does not contain a no-trade clause.
Angels owner Arte Moreno summed up the transactions thusly: "This is a monumental day for Angel fans, and I could not be more excited."
Added rookie GM Jerry Dipoto, "Many players around baseball desire to come play for the Angels."
With the addition of these two stars, the Angels are in prime position to have a great 2012 season.
But to make it even more spectacular, they will have to add some pieces and trade away starting pitcher Dan Haren.
No. 5: The Angels Rotation Is over Capacity
In 2011, the Angels extended ace Jered Weaver with the signing of a five-year, $85 million contract.
Weaver was the Angels ace in 2011 and has pitched for his hometown club since his MLB debut in 2006 when he pitched his way to an 11-2 record with a 2.56 ERA.
Since then, his worst season was in 2008, when he still recorded the winning record of 11-10 and still threw for 152 strikeouts.
In 2011, Weaver finished second to Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander in the AL Cy Young race. While Verlander led the league in most categories, Weaver was right behind him at No. 2.
With a record of 18-8, a 2.41 ERA, 198 strikeouts and his second consecutive All-Star Game appearance, Weaver is still the best pitcher on the Angels and their No. 1 starter.
The Angels must now create a rotation out of starting pitcher candidates Weaver, Wilson, Erwin Santana, Dan Haren, former Blue Jays hurler Brad Mills, veteran Jerome Williams, rookie Garrett Richards, prospect Trevor Reckling and last year's Minors Pitcher of the Year, Matt Shoemaker.
In the odd-man-out debate, one pitcher must go. Dan Haren is that pitcher.
No. 4: Dan Haren Is Oldest Starter on the Team
Age is relative.
Dan Haren might only be 31 years old, but he is surrounded by pitchers who are younger than him.
With the exception of the newly acquired C.J. Wilson—who is still two months younger than Haren—Jerome Williams is 30 years old, Jered Weaver is 29 years old, Ervin Santana is 28 years old, Brad Mills is 26 years old and the rookies and prospects Garrett Richards, Trevor Reckling and Matt Shoemaker are all 25 or under.
When deciding who to cut first, the Angels will be cognizant of the fact that Haren is the oldest pitcher on the team—and he also is not signed for another five years.
No. 3: Journeyman Haren Has Slightly Declined, but Is Still Very Impressive
It might take a microscope, but Haren has slipped ever so slightly since his 2008 debut with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
His best ERA came with the Oakland Athletics in 2007 (3.07) while his highest winning percentage came a year later (.667). He threw his best WHIP (1.00), his lowest batting average against (.224) and recorded a career high in strikeouts (223) in 2009, which was also the year he was last named to an All-Star team.
In 2011, Haren proved himself a workhorse for the Angels, throwing four complete games including three shutouts, third best in the AL.
What might have faintly declined in strikeouts and WHIP was overshadowed by Haren's newfound durability.
This durability and Haren's ability to adapt and showcase his strengths while concealing his weaknesses is what makes him such a valuable pitcher.
For this reason, Haren is a valuable commodity in the Angels' trade market and the one pitcher who could produce the highest payoff if the Angels deal him.
No. 2: Dan Haren Is Expensive, but Worth It
Dan Haren made $12.75 million in 2011 and he will make another $12.75 million in 2012. At that rate, he is the most expensive Angels starter other than Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson.
Though the Angels got the most for their money in 2011 when Haren appeared in a career-high 35 games, it is no secret that the Angels were big spenders this offseason.
While the Angels commanded a payroll last year in the $140 million range, operating costs are projected to rise significantly with Albert Pujols and Wilson now on the team.
To help offset these costs, the Angels could unload Dan Haren.
No. 1: Angels Need To Take Care of Offense
Ever since this photograph was taken on May 29, 2010, the Angels offense hasn't been the same.
This was the date when first baseman Kendrys Morales suffered a multi-season-ending ankle injury while rounding the bases on a walk-off home run.
With Morales projected to return in 2012, the Angels have some decisions to make.
Pujols is clearly the Angels' primary first baseman, meaning Morales might be relegated to the DH role or as a bench player.
Meanwhile, youngster Mark Trumbo—who had been playing first base—might make the transition to third base, where Alberto Callaspo experienced an average year in 2011.
The Angels' aging outfield of Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells and occasionally Bobby Abreu has been reinvigorated by 24-year-old Peter Bourjos and 20-year-old Mike Trout, while the middle-infield duo of Howie Kendrick and Maicer Izturis continues to impress.
Still, the Angels need to address the subpar offensive performance they experienced in 2011.
In 2011, the Angels were 10th (of 14) in the AL in runs scored, seventh in batting average, 11th in on-base percentage and eighth in total bases.
In 2009, the Angels were first in all of baseball in batting average, first in hits and second in runs scored.
To get back to those marks, the Angels will have to address underachievers like Callaspo, Wells and even the duo of Abreu and Hunter.
The new guard of Trumbo, Bourjos and Trout is a nice start, but to truly shine, the Angels will need to add more pieces on offense.
Dan Haren just happens to be the perfect bargaining chip for getting those extra pieces.