With the offseason just mere days from hitting full swing there's a lot on the Angels plate to consider. With all these Free Agents, trading options, roster shifting, front office personnel changes and so little time how are the Angels going to strategize over every little detail of the offseason? Fear not fellow fans, for I am here to do some of that work for them! Free of charge, I am going to put together a strategy for locking down a man who is sure to be a key player for the Angels in their future playoff run, which I swear is gonna be next year. I know I said that last year, but this time I TOTALLY mean it, 100%! Putting this gameplan in action is going to reap more benefits than any other move the Angels will make this offseason, unless they somehow manage to sign Prince Fielder. But unless that can happen, this is going to be the next best thing. It's just like Reagins used to say, it'll be like one BIG splash the Angels will make, except this time the splash will keep on giving season after season! Dan Haren is the gift that keeps on giving, and that's a gift I can get behind.
I wish I could wake up to a shiny new Dan Haren under my Christmas tree every year.
If you're still questioning whether or not Dan Haren would make a suitable contract extension candidate give me a quick second to drop the hammer of knowledge on you. Durability and consistency is one of the hardest things to find in a starting pitcher, you can't get many pitchers out there that can keep up the ace level of performance without dropping off at some point in the season and staying off. For five consecutive seasons Haren has topped 215 I.P while keeping his ERA well under 4, though there was the first half mediocrity in 2010 with the Diamondbacks, but you can just chalk that up to a top dog sick and tired of being dragged down by a team as terrible as the 2010 Diamondbacks. For those with bad long-term memory, that's a team that finished 5th in the NL West with 65-97 record and a .410 winning percentage, topped only by Seattle, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh. After the trade that sent him to Anaheim he kept his ERA at a nice and shiny 2.87 in 14 starts. Classic case of needed a change of scenery, we've seen it in the best of players and the worst of them. Oh, and just in case you're somehow crazy enough to think that 3 time All-Star Dan Haren's second half was a fluke, his 2011 performance in Anaheim was nearly similar with a 3.17 ERA in 34 Games Started [exit imposing looking font]. That's just one more start then Jered Weavers 2011 campaign, and Weaver got a big extension out of that. I know you're thinking one extra start isn't enough to justify a contract extension, and I completely got you covered on that one.
The easiest way to judge a players candidacy for an extension is to look at his fellow peers who received extensions. Last year the Angels extended Jered Weaver, a player who is nearly similar to Dan Haren in almost every facet, yet Dan Haren was left sadly unextended. If that's the type of player the Angels are looking to keep around long term then why not extend Haren? He plays in the same skill class as Weaver, has the heart, dedication, fire, and leadership skills nessecary to lead a team to a championship, yet he was overlooked by most of the baseball world because he played second-fiddle to Jered Weaver. If he was on any big market team he would have shined, but unfortunately for him Jered Weaver's light was too bright to outshine, even though his 5.82 SO/BB ratio is much shiner than Weaver's 3.54 SO/BB. Everyone in the baseball world got excited over Weavers strikeout capabilities, and why not, the man led the entire major leagues in 2010 with 233 strikeouts. He had a slight drop off this past season, ending with 198 K's, and that's a great number don't get me wrong, but when paired with Haren's 192 K's it's a little bit of a wonder that Haren didn't receive as much fanfare. Weaver's consistency with his pitches, while it was nowhere near bad, was nowhere near as crisp as Haren's, walking nearly double the amount of batters. I love a guy that can strikeout close to 200 batters as much as the next guy, but when he he's walking nearly double what the guy 6 K's below him does it really make his strikeout capabilities much better? Hint, no it doesn't.
Oh, and I've heard people complain about Haren's susceptibility to the longball, but guess what? Jered Weaver is just as susceptible, in fact he's EXACTLY as susceptible. They both carried a 0.8 HR/9 across last season, in all 230 I.P (rounded) for both. Some people quote that like it's an end all to any arguments stating Haren's effectiveness, I've read lots of peoples opinion's on certain things in sports, some dumb and some pretty intelligent, but none of them take the cake as good as this one. Especially when those spewing that out are Angel fans (yes I've heard it before, and I hope to god you aren't one of them), for some reason a few ass-backward Angel fans actually regretting trading Joe Saunders, a below average reliever, and two Joe Saunder clones for the Almighty Dan Haren. I know you're out there reading this, somewhere, and I ask you to please stop tainting this fan base. That is all.
Now, when you have a bullpen that is in as sad of a state as the Angels 'pen was last year you want a guy that can get as deep into a game as possible. Even when you have one of the best bullpens in the game, you still want a guy who can take some work off of your bullpen's shoulders. Now, the Angels are in no rush to sign Haren to an extension, they have him under team control for the next 2 years, but if they want to get him for cheap they're going to have to act as fast as possible. God knows that Haren is going to have an amazing season next year, a Jered Weaver like season if you will, and drive his price up considerably. You've already signed the guy on top of him to a big bargain, and now is the time to use that contract as a bargaining chip against Haren. Using Weavers 5yr/85 mil extension as a precedent to a possible Haren extension negotiation would get the Angels a big knock off of Haren's price tag, and seeing as how the Angels were able to get a hometown discount of Weaver I see no reason they can't get the same out of Haren. This is the same guy who had to try and hide his giddiness to leave the D'Backs, then one of the crappiest teams in baseball, to his hometown team, there's no doubt in my mind that he would jump at the chance to enter extension negotiations with the Angels. Seeing as how Haren and Weaver have worked together so masterfully it's a no-brainer that we should keep them both around together as long as possible, you can't buy that kind of chemistry, and you certainly couldn't get it for as inexpensive as it would be. Either one of these guys can lead a rotation into a playoffs, having both of them leading the same squad is almost unfair, it's almost cheating ,it's almost like stealing candy from a baby. It would be if it weren't for that damned bullpen always getting in the way of these two, but I guess that's some of the handicaps you have to deal with when you're two top pitchers are playing on God-mode.
Or at least they would be if God could pitch as well as either of them.
Forget Haren, lock down that mane to a 5 year deal ASAP.