D-Backs Add Another Ace in Haren

by Andrew Stewart on December 14, 2007 @ 06:13:40 PDT

 


Steve Gilbert, of MLB.com, reports the Oakland Athletics have traded starting pitcher Dan Haren and pitcher Connor Robertson to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for outfielders Carlos Gonzalez and Aaron Cunningham, pitchers Brett Anderson, Greg Smith and Dana Eveland and first baseman Chris Carter.

Landing Haren will go a long way toward improving the Diamondbacks' rotation, as the team now has two legitimate aces in Haren and Brandon Webb. Haren is young (only 27 years old), talented, productive and a workhorse - he has pitched at least 217 innings in each of his three full major league seasons. Haren was on pace to win the American League Cy Young award in the first half of the season; he went 10-3 with a 2.30 ERA heading into the All-Star break, and he started for the AL team in the Midsummer Classic. Although his production faltered in the second half, Haren still ended the season with top-of-the-line stats: 222 2/3 innings pitched, 15 wins, a 3.07 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP and 192 strikeouts.

Moving to Arizona (and more importantly, the National League) will likely improve Haren's fantasy value for the 2008 season and beyond. Outside the Colorado Rockies, no NL West team can boast having a prolific offense. The San Francisco Giants (683 runs, 15th in the NL), Los Angeles Dodgers (735, 10th) and San Diego Padres (741, ninth) were among those team that lacked offensive punch. This, unfortunately for Haren, also includes the Diamondbacks (712, 14th), so wins could be hard to come by with limited run support. However, Haren's ERA, WHIP and strikeouts should at least remain consistent with his previous performance. Haren remains a dominant fantasy pitcher, and he should come off the board early in most leagues this season.

Robertson has only three major league appearances to date and should not be judged on his poor performance in those outings (18.00 ERA, 4.00 WHIP). Robertson has made 170 appearances in a number of roles in the minors, where he has gone 21-9 with a 2.82 ERA and 23 saves. Even more impressive are Robertson's strikeout numbers - he has fanned 310 batters in just 233 1/3 innings. He has no fantasy relevance, though.

Gonzalez, 22, was considered to be one of the top prospects of the Diamondbacks organization, and he should find his way into Oakland's outfield in a short period of time. Gonzalez, who was named the MVP of the Midwest League in 2005, hit .286 with 16 homers and 75 RBI last season at Double-A Mobile, and then he hit .310 in a brief stint with Triple-A Tucson. This season, he may not worth drafting, except perhaps in very deep leagues, but he is worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses. It's always possible that he will have a shot to earn playing time with Oakland in spring training, too.

Anderson was a second-round selection in the 2006 First-Year Players Draft. He spent all of last season splitting time between Class A South Bend and Class A Advanced Visalia, where he struggled somewhat (4.85 ERA in nine starts) after a great first half with South Bend. He shouldn't come near a fantasy roster in 2008.

Cunningham, ranked as the Diamondbacks' seventh-best prospect by Baseball America, has only spent time in their system since midseason, when he was acquired from the Chicago White Sox. Cunningham hit .358 with 20 RBI in 29 games with Visalia before moving up to Mobile, where he hit .288 with 20 RBI in 31 games. The 21-year-old may never be more than a platoon player, but he gives the A's another body to test in their outfield.

Smith, who was named the Pioneer League Pitcher of the Year in 2005, is a slow-throwing left-handed starter with a 90-mph fastball, a curveball and a changeup. He has accelerated through the ranks with the D-Backs, starting at Class A Advanced Lancaster to begin the 2006 season, and finishing at Tucson last season, where he compiled a 3.78 ERA in 10 starts. He has an outside chance of seeing major league appearances in 2008, but he shouldn't be on the fantasy radar.

Carter is new to the Diamondbacks' farm system, as he was acquired at the 2007 Winter Meetings from the White Sox for outfielder Carlos Quentin. Carter hit .291 with 25 homers and 93 RBI with Class A South Atlantic last season. The 20-year-old isn't an immediate fantasy prospect, either.

Eveland did not play much last season, pitching only 32 2/3 innings in the minor leagues and five innings in the majors. He made four relief appearances and one start in his time in the majors, compiling a 14.40 ERA and letting opponents bat .364 off him. The 24-year-old was once a somewhat promising arm for the Milwaukee Brewers, but he has yet to make an impression in the bigs.

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About Andrew Stewart

Andrew Stewart has been a Hot off the Wire Analyst for KFFL since 2007.

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