Who would you rather?

Quick Mark Melancon notes
Prospect love reaches new heights

As Kat O’Brien writes and long-time RAB supporter Mike R. noted yesterday, the A’s are willing to shop Dan Haren, and the asking price for Haren is in line with – that is, identical to – the Twins’ initial demands for Johan Santana.

So who would you rather? I think I know my answer.

The righthanded Haren just turned 27 and has emerged as one of the top American League pitchers. Last season, he was sixth in the AL with a 56.4 VORP. Comparatively, Santana sat at 57.7. For an offensively impotent A’s team, he went 15-9 with a 3.07 ERA. He struck out 192 batters in 222.2 innings.

Last year’s stellar season is the third year in a row of marked improvement by Haren. He dropped his ERA by 1.05 runs, saw his strike out numbers improve and topped 215 IP yet again.

And then there’s the contract. Where Johan Santana will probably cost the Yanks upwards of $20 million a year for six or seven years, Haren is under contract through 2010. He’s owed, as Buster Olney noted today about $4 million in 2008 and $5.5 million in 2009. His club holds a $6.25 million option for 2010. That’s a fantastic deal.

Despite the allure of Haren, however, I’d rather have Santana. Santana, as we all know, will be 29 next year, and Haren’s age may give him the advantage of a season or two more of potential greatness than Santana, Johan is the better pitcher. When you consider park-adjusted ERA’s, Haren’s jumps up to around 3.70, an increase of over 0.60 runs per 9 IP while Santana’s sees a much smaller increase of around 0.60 runs. There’s no need to rehash Santana’s stat line yet again, but those numbers are stellar. And Johan’s a lefty.

If the Yanks are willing to make a deal with the prospects the A’s are supposedly desiring in exchange for Haren, they would be better off trading for Santana, insane contract demands included. Santana’s track record is better; the Yanks could use a lefty in the pen; and by trading for Haren, the Yanks would be assuming the risk of taking on a player who’s been good with one spectacular season. There’s no guarantee that Haren can repeat his 2007 performance while playing for a team in the AL East. With Santana, we know what we’re getting, and what would be getting is greatness.

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Quick Mark Melancon notes
Prospect love reaches new heights
  • http://deleted Mike R.

    I was on the Haren band wagon until I saw his stats at Fenway over the last three years. Not very pretty. The benefit of trading for Haren over Santana is that we could go after a big pitching FA next off season, be it Santana or Sabathia if either reaches FA. It’s a tough choice.

  • Pfistyunc

    Buster Olney’s blog today had a great breakdown. In sum: Haren is the better value but Santana is the better pitcher.

    • http://deleted Mike R.

      Do you have a link? I’d like to read his logic behind it.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

        Olney’s blog post is now linked in my post above. I didn’t see what he wrote before I wrote this, but I added some info now.

  • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

    Gimme Santana 8 days a week and twice on Sundays. Haren is a very good pitcher, but Johan is a dominator. I can’t see Haren going 7 strong with double-digits K’s against the Red Sox or Indians in Sept. Santana I can.

    My only worries about Santana are that he’s going to cost alot (both in terms of talent and money) and that he gave up a ton of homers despite pitching in a surprisingly mediocre AL Central.

    • NYFan50

      Agreed, Santana over Haren every which way. Wouldn’t worry too much about the homers. Last year was an aberration in his career. He’s never given up close to that many homers previously in his career.

  • TurnTwo

    giving up the HRs is not a problem for me. i think of the HRs Johan gave up, there was a very large percentage that were solo shots, meaning he was challenging hitters with no men on base, which is what you’d expect a great pitcher to be doing. minimal runs and minimal actual damage.

    Haren is a nice fall back option, should Johan be traded elsewhere. but if i can get Johan with a fair package of players and sign him long term, he’s the one i want to anchor my staff.

  • kunaldo

    i agree, i’d def go with santana….look at haren’s WHIP for the last 3 years…it’s been right around 1.2, while santana has been at 1.00 or a little less

    unless haren is significantly cheaper, santana it is

    • http://deleted Mike R.

      Haren is signed for three more years. During that span he should be between $40 and $50 million cheaper.

      • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

        Very true. That is a ton of money, even for the Yanks. A $6.25 option for Haren for 2010? That’s a steal and a half.

        • http://deleted Mike R.

          I think the contract implications are what really makes this a tough decision. If it were in a vaccumm I would take Santana over Haren everytime. He is a much better pitcher. We have to consider if he is $50 million better.

          • NYFan50

            The Yankees can afford to pay extra dollars for the better pitcher. This is more of a concern for teams that do not have the Yankee revenue stream.

  • Mitchell’s Eleven

    If we can get Haren for less, the answer has to be Haren. We have to trust in what we’ve developed and look for our “true #1″ to come from there. Cash and Hank have said it time and time again as to getting your top pitchers from within. We have to stop getting inticed by the sexier chick over there. Adding Haren to Wang, Hughes, and, Joba, would be sick. it’s also a scenario in which I could foresee getting the player without giving up Phil. We’ve got enough guys in our farm system to make Billy Beane happy while not messing up our plan.

  • Rob

    Agreed – if it’s going to be one, it’s Santana hands down. And yes, 50 Million better. It’s the difference between a true ace and a guy who could easily implode in a crucial playoff game.

    • Count Zero

      Agreed. Assuming the cost in terms of talent to be traded is the same, the money is a minor matter when Santana is clearly a better fit for the Yankees.

      Giving up Hughes is what stops me from liking a Santana deal — I like the deal even less when the payout is Haren no matter what his contract is.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    Santana or stand pat.

  • Glen L

    If the Yanks can get Santana without giving up Cano or Hughes or Joba .. then hurray for Santana .. otherwise, if that’s not possible, give me Haren! (assuming of course you don’t have to give up those three)

    It would be a little scary of course to give up both Melky and A-Jax for either pitcher and be left with no CF options in the foreseeable future … hello Aaron Rowand?….

  • http://deleted Mike R.

    I don’t think the Yankees would part with Cabrera AND Jackson. They would probably send some sort of equivalant offer. One thing is for sure. They don’t want Damon in CF for an entire year.

  • Mike N (Stamford, CT)

    It all depends upon what they have to give up to get each pitcher. If you can get Haren without giving up Chamberlin or Hughes then it is probably a better deal for the long term future of the club.

    Haren is a good pitcher coming into his prime and would, theoretically, cost less than Santana. Of course in a vacuum I would rather have Johan, but the price in terms of players and salary must be taken into consideration when weighing these deals

  • Pounder

    Haren now,Santana as a FA next year.However,if we sacrifice any of our young arms for either of them,I believe we will come to regret it.I also would like to see us sign David Riske and perhaps take a flyer on Troy Percival.

  • Kevin23

    I love Danny Haren. But Johan is a better fit for our rotation. Being a lefty, a proven strikeout artist, and a crafty veteran, he can do a lot for us on and off the field. But I’m guessing that there is still a Mets team out there that has a few cards up their sleeve. So I’m holding fast to my belief that the Yanks will not sign him until next year, if at all. If they do get him, it’ll be by upping the ante and giving up someone they shouldn’t.

    I just really hope we’re not selling our farm for one shot. Hank and Hal seem to say all the right things, but the only thing I’ve seen come down the pipe is more of the same…signing veteran guys to big deals and crossing fingers.

  • http://deleted Mike R.

    Now hypothetically…let’s say next off season rolls around and CC Sabathia files for free agency. If you trade for Santana you probably can’t afford CC, but if you trade for Haren you can. Would you rather have Haren and CC or Santana? Chances are remote but you could possibly land both Haren and Santana if he were to reach FA. That’s also a point in Haren’s favor.

    • Kevin23

      Interesting point. But just as you shouldn’t make decisions based on the worst possible scenario, you shouldn’t make them based on the best possible scenario either. Remember that shooting the moon is a strategy employed by desperate people. The Yanks are far from desperate.

  • zack

    It would be very very very foolish of the Yanks to plan on potential free agents next season. The chances of Santana or C.C. being Free Agents are slim to none…

  • kunaldo

    Mike R, when have the yanks not been able to afford anybody? Two DOMINANT lefties, plus joba hughes wang for 09? I dont think money becomes a factor there…

    • http://deleted Mike R.

      Even the Yankees have limits. It would be very dificult to have to have $75 million tied up in three player in three years if they were to sign Santana and Sabathia. That really limits their financial flexability down the road. Could you imagine the year 2015 with those contracts on payroll. A 40 year old A-Rod, a 36 year old Santana and a 35 year old Sabathia.

  • E-ROC

    I personally like Scott Kazmir. He’s getting better every year. Too bad it would take a ton to acquire him from the Rayz.

  • Count Zero

    Let’s backtrack for a moment — “the A’s are willing to shop Dan Haren, and the asking price for Haren is in line with the Twins’ initial demands for Johan Santana”

    All of you thinking it will take less players/lower quality players to get Haren are dreaming. We’re talking about Billy Beane here. His pitcher is a) under contract longer b) will cost less in salary and c) younger. Which means Haren is far more attractive to teams that don’t have the Yankees budget, and would have many more suitors than Santana.

    Ergo, the “talent” cost for Haren will be the same or higher, not lower. The only thing that will be lower is his salary.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      By “in line with the Twins’ demands for Santana,” I mean that they are identical to the Twins’ demands for Santana. The A’s want the same package of players for Haren as the Twins do for Santana. Billy Beane knows what he has and knows his leverage.

      • Count Zero

        Yep – that’s the way I read it.

        I was addressing all the people who were posting and thinking they could get Haren for less in terms of players, not your post Ben.

  • kunaldo

    yeah, you’re right, it really is stupid to lock up that much money in a few players…but damn, the idea of having that rotation is so tempting

  • Glen L

    People should keep in mind where baseball salaries have gone as well as where MLB and yankee revenue have gone

    in 5 years none of these figures may seem ridiculous

    • http://deleted Mike R.

      That is a valid point, but even seven years after A-Rod signed his Texas deal there still wasn’t a single player that had caught up to him. It ias still seen as a huge number.

  • Mitchell’s Eleven

    To answer methmattski’s question on the “Save Phil Hughes” site, no, I wouldn’t care if Boston got Santana instead. You don’t base your moves on what another team might or might not do. You focus on putting the best team you can on that field. That best team for us may, or may not, include Johan Santana in both the short and long term.

    If Boston got Santana, we focus on trying to beat them just the same. You don’t abort ship on your plan because they might get him, though. Let them be the ones to abort ship and trade Ellsbury and Laptop Boy.

  • CJ

    I would trade Kennedy and Hughes if I got back bot Haren and Johan. I would not trade Hughes if I only got one. It is not unreasonble to get both. Kennedy, Meky and Jackson for Santana AND Hughes, Horne for Haren. Then hope Pettite returns.
    Rotation
    Johan
    Haren
    Wang
    Pettite
    Joba, Mussina

    Let’s make sure the last game played in the Stadium is a WS game.

    • Kevin23

      Very ambitious. I would go for it. Although it would be predicated on both pitchers signing on for 5 years maximum. Something tells me someone will out-do that. Let them.

    • Mitchell’s Eleven

      I’d rather make sure I was playing in more than one WS in the next ten years than in next year’s.

      Is the sentiment behind those who want to trade away our young pitchers that we have to win in the stadium’s last year? That’s just silly.

  • Kevin23

    Actually, since Haren has got a few years left, I’d throw a bit of money at Johan if I thought I’d have enough arms left to get Haren. But next year I’m left with an empty pipeline, I’ve lost draft picks, etc. Its risky business.

    But I guess the reason I’m not adamantly against it, is that for the first time, I feel like the Yankees have guys teams really want. If a dream scenario presents itself without huge back-end risk, pull the trigger. Otherwise, you’ve got the enviable position of not giving a crap.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      Dream scenarios with no risk never pop up. Teams aren’t going to trade good players pre-arb and pre-free agency, and there’s always a risk in trading prospects for guys who are older. That being said, a lot of folks are overvaluing many of the Yankees’ prospects, and one of the joys of having so many highly regarded prospects is that you can turn them into usable Major League pieces.

      • Kevin23

        There’s a big difference between “without huge back-end risk” and “no risk”. Other than that, I think we’re agreed.