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Tag:Dan Haren
Posted on: September 8, 2011 8:55 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2011 11:48 pm
 

3 to Watch: The 'Discourage them' edition

The Phillies' goals for the rest of the season would seem to be simple.

Stay healthy (or get healthy). Get rested. Figure out a playoff rotation. Try to break the club record for wins (it's 101, and after a win Thursday the Phillies need just a 10-10 finish to break it).

This week, as the Phillies have faced two potential playoff opponents, manager Charlie Manuel threw another goal out there:

Intimidate the opposition. Look as unbeatable as possible.

"If you play really well, it could discourage them," Manuel said, in advance of this weekend's series in Milwaukee.

The Phillies will likely open the playoffs against the Diamondbacks, who were 2 1/2 games behind the Brewers entering play Thursday. In that case, their second-round opponent would be either the Braves or the Brewers.

The Phillies swept the Braves in a three-game series. They opened a four-game series against the Brewers with a 7-2 win Thursday night.

The games barely matter in the standings, with both teams far ahead in their divisions. Manuel thinks they could matter in the minds of the players, especially if one team dominates the other.

"When I managed in the minor leagues, I had some big hitting teams," he said. "I always liked it when the other team watched us take batting practice. It scared them."

So Charlie, someone asked, does that mean you don't want your pitchers watching when Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder take BP?

"My pitchers can," he said, laughing. "My starting rotation can watch them."

Nothing will scare Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee et al, Manuel figures, probably correctly.

But there is some thought in Philadelphia that the one team that would really concern the Phillies would be the Giants, who knocked them out of the playoffs last year and also won two of three in Philadelphia in July (although the Phillies then won three of four in San Francisco).

The Phillies lost two of three to the Brewers in April, but the Phillies don't look at the Brewers the way they look at the Giants.

Not yet, anyway.

If the Brewers play really well this weekend, maybe the Phillies could be the team that gets discouraged.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. With Josh Beckett's ankle injury, the Red Sox have reason to worry about their starting rotation. They don't have to worry about making it to the playoffs. Right? Uh, I think that's right, but I also noticed that Boston's wild-card lead over the Rays shrunk to 6 1/2 games on Thursday night. And I noticed that the two teams have seven remaining head-to-head meetings, starting with Red Sox at Rays, Friday night (7:10 ET) at Tropicana Field. Great pitching matchup Sunday, with Jon Lester going against James Shields, but especially with Beckett out, the Red Sox might be more focused on what happens Friday, when John Lackey faces Wade Davis. Of the 140 pitchers that have started at least 15 games in the majors this year, Lackey (6.11) is the only one with an ERA over 6.00.

2. For the last three weeks, the Angels have had an easier schedule than the Rangers, and that's no doubt one reason why the Rangers' lead in the American League West shrunk from seven games to 2 1/2 games. But the schedule turns starting this weekend, when the Rangers begin a homestand against the A's and Indians, followed by a trip to Seattle and Oakland. Meanwhile, in Anaheim, it gets tougher, including Yankees at Angels, Saturday night (9:05 ET) at Angel Stadium. At least the Angels have their top three starters set for the series, with Jered Weaver facing Bartolo Colon on Friday, Dan Haren against CC Sabathia on Saturday and Ervin Santana against Freddy Garcia on Sunday.

3. When someone asked Manuel the other day if there's any way Vance Worley could find his way into the postseason rotation, the Phillies manager said: "I think that's a question that should be asked." While the Yankees and Red Sox wonder if they have enough pitchers they would want to start in October, the Phillies seem to have too many. Worley has been outstanding, but it's still hard to see Manuel using him ahead of Roy Oswalt, especially since the manager is on record saying he expects Oswalt's velocity to pick up in October. Worley gets another chance to make his case in Phillies at Brewers, Sunday afternoon (2:10 ET) at Miller Park. It's an interesting case, as the Phillies have won each of Worley's last 14 starts. If the Phillies win Sunday, Worley will tie the Philadelphia club record of 15, set by Steve Carlton in 1972, his 27-win season. The last longer streak in the big leagues was by the 2005 Cardinals, who won 17 straight Chris Carpenter starts.

Posted on: August 25, 2011 11:45 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 11:49 pm
 

3 to Watch: The glimmer of a chance edition

Last Friday morning, the host of a morning talk show on the Angels' flagship radio station asked me if Mark Trumbo's dramatic home run the night before had given the Angels "a glimmer of a chance" in the American League West.

Good thing I said yes.

It would have been easy to say no. I was tempted to say no.

The Angels had just lost three of four to the Rangers. They still trailed the Rangers by six games in the American League West.

There was no way they were coming back. But maybe because I wanted to be nice, or maybe because I almost believed it, I said yes.

Good thing I did.

The Angels are in Texas this weekend, and if they win all three games they leave town Sunday night in first place. If they win two of three, they leave town one game out.

Even if they lose two of three, they're three games out, with a month to play.

They have at least "a glimmer of a chance."

Good thing, too, because baseball needs a pennant race in the American League West.

The Tigers have gone ahead by 6 1/2 games in the American League Central. The Brewers are so far ahead in the National League Central (10 games, as of Thursday morning) that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch asked if it's time for the Cardinals to start selling off players.

The Yankees and the Red Sox have known for weeks that they'll be in the American League playoffs. Same goes for the Phillies and Braves in the National League.

If the Rangers had pulled away, we could have been stuck with just the NL West, with the surprising Diamondbacks, the champion Giants . . . and the Rockies?

With five straight wins, the Rockies had pulled to within 8 1/2 games of the lead, before the Diamondbacks won Thursday to make it nine games.

"It's a longshot," Troy Tulowitzki told reporters. "But if anyone can do it, it's us."

The Rockies are 63-68, hardly contender-like. But it's only four games worse than they were after 131 games in 2007.

That year, they ended up with 90 wins. This year, 90 wins might win the NL West.

I'm not sure it's even a glimmer of a chance yet. But Tulowitzki is right.

If anyone can do it, it's them.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. You'd be surprised how many players talk about going back to finish their career where they started it. Jim Thome got the chance, when the Twins traded him to the Indians Thursday night. Thome, who last played for Cleveland in 2002, returns for Royals at Indians, Friday night (7:05 ET) at Progressive Field, which was known as Jacobs Field the last time he played for the Indians. Ubaldo Jimenez, last month's big Indians acquisition, will be on the mound.

2. The best thing the Angels have going for them is the top of their rotation, with Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana. And manager Mike Scioscia seems ready to use all three of those aces this weekend, even though it would mean using Santana and Weaver on three days' rest for the first time in either's big-league career. Santana would face Rangers ace C.J. Wilson in Angels at Rangers, Saturday night (8:05 ET) at Rangers Ballpark. Weaver would pitch Sunday night against Colby Lewis. Haren opens the series on regular rest, Friday against Derek Holland.

3. The Rockies' longshot run last year basically ended on a Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles, when they took a 6-1 lead and ended up losing 7-6. And it fell apart completely a few nights later in Arizona. Their longer-shot run heads to Los Angeles and Arizona this week, including Rockies at Dodgers, Sunday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Dodger Stadium.



Posted on: April 22, 2011 10:01 am
 

3 to watch: The 'No extra significance' edition

Some Reds try to play down their new-found rivalry with the Cardinals.

"There's no extra significance at all," Jay Bruce told the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Oh yeah? Tell that to Brandon Phillips.

When the Reds' team plane landed in St. Louis on Thursday night, Phillips went straight to his Twitter account .

"Just landed in St. Louis! Sad face," he posted. "But these wins will make me happy!"

One hour later, he was at it again, saying he told teammates that the best thing to eat in St. Louis was Lunchables.

No extra significance?

How about those T-shirts they're selling in St. Louis , the ones that read "Mike Leake stole this shirt for me"?

Look, we know rivalries can be overblown. Most teams don't really hate each other as much as the fans would like them to. Players change teams. As Reds manager Dusty Baker told reporters Thursday, it's not like the Reds have anything against Lance Berkman or Ryan Theriot.

Besides that, the Cardinals and Reds know better than most teams that head-to-head meetings often don't decide division titles. The Cardinals won 12 of 18 games against the Reds in 2010 -- including six of the final seven -- and the Reds still won the National League Central.

But please don't tell me that these games have "no extra significance."

On to 3 to watch.

1. As we mentioned in the last 3 to watch, the Indians and Royals are on top of the American League Central -- right now. And one scout who just finished watching the White Sox said they "look uninspired" and "look like they're still going through spring training." Perhaps they'll look more inspired this weekend in Detroit, starting with White Sox at Tigers, Friday night (7:05 ET) at Comerica Park. Mark Buehrle (5-0 in his last eight starts against the Tigers) faces Justin Verlander (5-0 in his last five starts against the White Sox). It's the first Buehrle-Verlander matchup in more than three years, since an April 2008 meeting when the White Sox won, 13-2, in a game where Nick Swisher and Pudge Rodriguez were the two leadoff hitters.

2. Mike Leake won't be starting in this weekend's Reds-Cardinals series. Chris Carpenter will be. All he's done against the Reds is win each of his last 10 starts, dating back to 2006. Last year alone, Carpenter was 5-0 with a 1.78 ERA against the Reds. He goes against Travis Wood in Reds at Cardinals, Saturday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Busch Stadium. The Fox network even thought enough of the matchup to send its top crew (Guess the Yankees and Red Sox aren't playing this weekend). ESPN even noticed. "We haven't been on the Sunday night game in I don't know how long," Baker told the Enquirer.

3. Remember when John Lackey was the Angels' ace? Remember when it seemed like another black mark against Angels owner Arte Moreno that he allowed Lackey to leave as a free agent, the same winter the Angels tried but failed to trade for Roy Halladay? Now Jered Weaver and Dan Haren are a combined 9-0 with a 1.20 ERA, while Lackey carries a 9.82 ERA into his start in Red Sox at Angels, Sunday afternoon (3:35 ET) at Angel Stadium. That's not to say the Angels couldn't use more rotation depth. While Weaver and Haren are 9-0 (going into Haren's Friday night meeting with Jon Lester), the rest of the Angels pitchers are 3-7.

Posted on: August 1, 2010 9:23 pm
 

3 to watch: The Instant rewards? edition

Cliff Lee lost his first start for the Rangers. Dan Haren not only lost his Angels debut, but he was knocked out of the box by a line drive.

Roy Oswalt lost his first Phillies start.

Yeah, it's great to trade for a starting pitcher, isn't it?

You make the deal with hopes that it will go the way it did for Lee last year, when he won his first five starts for the Phillies, then took them all the way to the World Series. You remember that CC Sabathia went 11-2 down the stretch with the 2008 Brewers, and changed the story of a franchise by taking them to the playoffs.

You remember Doyle Alexander (9-0) with the 1987 Tigers. You don't remember Jarrod Washburn (1-3) with the 2009 Tigers.

A starting pitcher traded at midseason doesn't get that many chances to affect the pennant race. Lee made just 12 regular-season starts for the Phillies last year; even Sabathia, who was dealt before the All-Star break and famously pitched on three days' rest down the stretch in September, started only 17 regular-season games for the Brewers.

The best deals make a difference, but with so few starts, each one is precious.

Oswalt makes his second Phils start this Wednesday in Florida. Haren makes his third Angels start Wednesday in Baltimore. Lee, who lost to the Angels in Anaheim on Sunday, will face the A's this weekend in Oakland.

Meanwhile, three other teams show off new starters this week, as you'll see in 3 to watch:

1. The Cardinals no doubt would have rather had Oswalt, but the guy they got was Jake Westbrook, who has come back well from Tommy John surgery. Westbrook's first start will come in Astros at Cardinals, Monday night (8:15 ET) at Busch Stadium . Westbrook is a career American Leaguer. He was 6-7 with a 3.56 ERA in 27 interleague games against National League teams. His opponent Monday is Brett Myers, the guy a lot of teams would have liked to have traded for; the Astros instead signed him to a contract extension.

2. The Dodgers were seven games out of first place at the deadline, and 4 1/2 games behind in the wild-card race. But the Dodgers obviously still believe they can win, as they picked up four players in the last week, including starter Ted Lilly, who will be a free agent at the end of the season. Lilly gets a tough assignment in his debut with his new team, facing Mat Latos in Padres at Dodgers, Tuesday night (10:10 ET) at Dodger Stadium .

3. Edwin Jackson keeps moving from team to team, impressing everyone with his stuff and his makeup, but never making enough of an impact that anyone decides he's indispensible. Will that change with the White Sox, his fifth team in an eight-year career? We'll find out, beginning with White Sox at Tigers, Wednesday night (7:05 ET) at Comerica Park . One interesting note: Jackson lost his final two starts for the Tigers, both against the White Sox last September. One reason he did, according to a source, is that he was tipping his pitches then and the White Sox had picked it up. Jackson is an interesting deadline pickup, anyway, because his career ERA after the All-Star break is 5.09, more than half a run worse than his pre-break ERA of 4.47.
Posted on: July 30, 2010 11:04 am
 

3 to watch: The Roy II edition

Aren't top starting pitchers supposed to be hard to find? Don't you need to develop your own, because you'll never be able to trade for one?

This July, they're everywhere.

Well, not everywhere, but the Rangers (Cliff Lee), Angels (Dan Haren) and Phillies (Roy Oswalt) were each able to trade for a starting pitcher whose was a multiple-time All-Star. Two of the three (Lee and Oswalt) have been 20-game winners. All three have received Cy Young votes.

There have been other trades made this month. There will be more trades made before Saturday's 4 p.m. EDT deadline for making deals without waivers.

But we can already say that this will be the July of the ace pitcher.

The Phillies won't be surprised. They've made five in-season trades for starting pitchers in as many years. They've made two trades for All-Star pitchers named Roy in just the last eight months.

Three of the four starters in their likely postseason rotation (if they get there) were acquired in trades.

Trading for Joe Blanton two years ago helped the Phillies win the World Series. Trading for Lee last year got the Phillies back to the World Series.

Now they have Oswalt, to slot in behind Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels in a top of the rotation that could be the best in the game.

Other teams will deal for starting pitchers this month. The White Sox were trying to get Edwin Jackson Friday morning. The Dodgers were reportedly talking about Ted Lilly. Jake Westbrook and Jeremy Guthrie are still out there.

There are some hitters still available, most notably Adam Dunn and Lance Berkman.

But this will be known as the July of the ace, the July of Lee, Haren and Oswalt.

On to 3 to watch:

1. Halladay made his Phillies debut with an 11-1 win on opening day in Washington. Now Oswalt goes to the same spot for his Phils debut, in Phillies at Nationals, Friday night (7:05 ET) at Nationals Park . The Nats won't have Stephen Strasburg to help them sell tickets this weekend, but all that means is that there will be more available for the army of fans traveling down from Philly. One thing they might not want to know: Oswalt is winless in his last seven starts against the Nats, last winning in 2005 at RFK Stadium.

2. It's probably the pennant race more than the possibility of a 600th home run, but Tropicana Field is sold out for all three games this weekend. It will be the first time that the Rays have sold out three consecutive regular-season games. One attraction is Matt Garza, whose first start since his no-hitter comes in Yankees at Rays, Saturday night (7:05 ET) at Tropicana Field .

3. What the Padres have done so far this year is impressive, but the National League West race still seems wide open. One scout familiar with the division predicted this week that the Giants have the best chance of winning it. It sure would help if they added a hitter. By the time they see Clayton Kershaw, in Dodgers at Giants, Sunday night (8:05 ET) at AT&T Park , we'll know whether they have.
Posted on: July 25, 2010 10:39 pm
 

3 to watch: The Draw of power edition

Scott Boras says people are drawn to power, as in power pitching or power hitting. He says it's why everyone seems to want to see power pitcher Stephen Strasburg (a client of his), and he argues that it will also be true with top draft pick and power hitter Bryce Harper (another client).

Fair enough, but if people really are drawn to power, they should be drawn to the Alex Rodriguez (also a client) push for 600 home runs.

So far, the feeling is that they haven't been, at least not nationally and only to a small extent locally. But it was hard to tell last week, because the Yankees were playing at home and they always draw near-capacity crowds, chase or no chase.

There were some signs that fans in New York cared, based on the noise and flashbulbs that accompanied each A-Rod at-bat after he reached 599 on Thursday night, and by the disappointment when an A-Rod at-bat after that ended without a home run.

But no newspapers from outside the area staffed the try for 600. No national television crews showed up.

So here's the question: With A-Rod taking the chase to Cleveland, will Indians fans show in anything like the numbers they did to see Strasburg pitch at Progressive Field last month?

The Strasburg game, on a Sunday afternoon, drew 32,876, which is still the only Indians crowd of more than 26,000 since opening day. The Indians are last in baseball in attendance (yes, behind even the Marlins).

Strasburg's first nine starts have averaged 36,351, and more of the games have been on some form of national television.

On to 3 to watch:

1. So what are the chances that A-Rod gets to 600 in Yankees at Indians, Monday night (7:05 EDT) at Progressive Field ? Well, he's a .375 career hitter against Tribe starter Jake Westbrook, but that includes just one home run in 24 at-bats. And what are the chances that the A-Rod chase for 600 goes on beyond this three-game series in Cleveland? Well, A-Rod went homerless in 15 at-bats in a four-game series in Cleveland last year, and he went homerless in 13 at-bats in a four-game series in Cleveland the year before. In all, he's homerless in his last 32 at-bats at Progressive Field. Either that means he's due, or it means the chase will head for Tampa Bay this weekend. At least we know that A-Rod will play this week, or at least that he plans to. After he was hit on the hand by a pitch Sunday, Rodriguez said there was "no question" he would be in the lineup Monday.

2. When the Angels traded for Dan Haren on Sunday, manager Mike Scioscia told reporters that there's a chance Haren's first Angel start will come right away, in Red Sox at Angels, Monday night (10:05 EDT) at Angel Stadium . If Haren starts instead on Tuesday, he would face ex-Angel John Lackey in Lackey's first Anaheim start as a visitor. Either way, Haren's second Angels start could be just as interesting, because there's a chance that it would be next Sunday night, against Rangers acquisition Cliff Lee.

3. Strasburg's first nine starts have been against nine different opponents. That streak ends with Strasburg's next start, in Braves at Nationals, Tuesday night (7:05 EDT) at Nationals Park . But this will be Strasburg's first meeting with fellow hyped rookie Jason Heyward, because Heyward went on the disabled list on June 28, the same night Strasburg lost 5-0 to the Braves in Atlanta. Remember, that was the game when Ian Desmond couldn't turn a double play that might have allowed Strasburg to hold the Braves scoreless through seven innings.

Posted on: July 25, 2010 7:58 pm
 

Haren helps, but maybe not enough for 2010

Things were going so bad for the Angels that one scout who just finished touring the American League West said this weekend, "Oakland has a better chance of catching Texas than the Angels do."

Things were going so bad that even some Angels people were downplaying the possibility of a significant trade this week because, "We're not a Mark Teixeira away."

So, were they a Dan Haren away?

No, probably not. Even if you assume that the Angels have matched the Rangers' move for Cliff Lee -- they haven't, because Haren isn't as good as Lee -- the Angels still aren't as good as the Rangers.

So it's a bad trade, or a useless trade?

No, not at all, because Haren isn't a rental. He's signed through 2012, with an option for 2013, and he's the type of player the Angels have had trouble getting on either the free-agent or the trade market in recent years.

This is a team that wanted CC Sabathia, a team that wanted Roy Halladay, a team that talked about Jake Peavy, a team that tried to keep Teixeira after trading for him as a July 2008 rental.

This is a team that went to spring training this year with a decent five-man rotation but no ace -- and hasn't yet seen anyone step forward to become an ace.

The 29-year-old Haren could be that guy, even though he was having a subpar season with the Diamondbacks. He's not Lee and he's not Halladay, but he is a 200-inning a year workhorse who still has good enough stuff that he leads the National League in strikeouts.

He's been a consistent winner, including for three years in the American League West with the A's.

If the Angels beat the odds and get to the playoffs this year (it would probably take the Rangers falling apart for that to happen), then Haren gives them a much better chance at advancing than Joe Saunders would have. If they don't make it this year, then they still go into next season with the top of the rotation settled, with a healthy Kendry Morales back in their lineup -- and, who knows, maybe even Carl Crawford in their outfield.

This is as different as could be from the last big midseason Angels trade, the one for Teixeira in 2008. That year, the Angels were already far ahead in the AL West, and they dealt for Teixeira thinking he could put them on top in October (he didn't). This year, they're far behind, but Haren could have multiple chances to put them on top.

Sure, it's a little funny that the Angels -- so often criticized for failing to make a big July trade -- make one in a season that may be beyond saving. But because of what Haren could mean for their future, this one makes sense.

Does it make sense for the Diamondbacks? That's a lot harder to say, because it's always dangerous to just a prospect package on the day of a trade (especially when one of the key pieces is a player to be named).

But whether this was the right deal or not, trading Haren now makes perfect sense for a team that needs a makeover -- and needs to save money.

The $33 million or so remaining on Haren's contract shouldn't be that big a deal for an Angels team that fills the stadium every night. At $12.75 million each of the next two years, Haren is certainly cheaper than Sabathia or Halladay would have been, had the Angels succeeded in getting one of them.

Haren should help. Maybe they're still not good enough to catch the Rangers this year.

But at least they should be back to being the biggest threat to the Rangers -- this year, and into the future.

Posted on: July 21, 2010 6:44 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2010 7:43 pm
 

Phillies seek pitcher, focusing on Oswalt, Haren

It's July, so the Phillies are trying to trade for a starting pitcher.

Of course they are. They do every year.

The Phillies have dealt for a starter each of the last four years , and sources familiar with the organization said they're trying hard this week to make it five in a row.

The top target has been Astros right-hander Roy Oswalt, but it appears that Diamondbacks right-hander Dan Haren could be a strong fallback position. Last year, remember, the Phillies tried first for Roy Halladay, before switching to their second choice and acquiring Cliff Lee (before then trading Lee and acquiring Halladay over the winter).

While sources said that no deal was close, as of late Wednesday afternoon, it's entirely possible that a trade for one of the pitchers could be completed before the July 31 non-waiver deadline. While the Phillies have two openings in their rotation this weekend, after demoting Kyle Kendrick and losing Jamie Moyer to an injury, the team apparently doesn't feel pressure to get a trade completed in the next 2-3 days.

The Phillies expect to activate left-hander J.A. Happ from the disabled list to start Sunday's game against the Rockies, although in some scenarios that have been discussed, Happ would be part of the package the Phillies would give up in a trade.

Astros owner Drayton McLane told the team's website that "nothing's imminent" on the trade front, and suggested that any deal would wait until closer to the July 31 deadline.

A deal for Oswalt remains complicated, for all the reasons we explained last month and more. ESPN.com reported Wednesday that Oswalt would require a team to pick up his 2012 option as part of agreeing to any deal, and sources said the Phillies aren't inclined to do that. Oswalt may not really want to pitch in Philadelphia in any case, having told people in Houston that he would rather not go anywhere with a large and aggressive media contingent.

The Phillies' urgency to make a trade could also be affected by the way the team plays the rest of this week. The Phils lost five of their first six games after the All-Star break, falling a season-high seven games behind the Braves in the National League East. The Phils have also fallen four games behind in the wild-card race.

The standings provide part of the reason that the Phillies have focused on Oswalt and Haren, because both pitchers are signed past this season, so neither would be a pennant-race rental. In effect, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro would be doing what White Sox GM Ken Williams did last summer, when he traded for Jake Peavy and claimed Alex Rios on waivers with one eye on 2010.

By acquiring either Oswalt or Haren, the Phillies would accomplish two things: First, they'd have a somewhat better chance of making the playoffs this year, and a great playoff rotation of Halladay, Cole Hamels and either of the two targets if they did get there. Second, they'd basically complete their shopping for 2011, adding the pitcher to their rotation with the understanding that they'd make room financially by allowing Jayson Werth to leave as a free agent and replacing him with top prospect Domonic Brown.

The Phils have also discussed the possibility of trading Werth this month, but at this point a Werth trade seems less likely than a deal for a pitcher.



 
 
 
 
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