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Dan Haren would be perfect fit for Angels

Diamondbacks pitcher would allow team to groom Ervin Santana as its closer for next season.

June 19, 2010

Fitting Haren for a halo

The Angels could use a first baseman and a third baseman, and a fourth outfielder with at least one career home run. But they rarely veer from their pitching-first philosophy, so Dan Haren would be a natural trade target, and a perfect fit.

The Arizona Diamondbacks traded outfielder Conor Jackson last week, the first to go in what club officials indicate could be a fire sale. The Angels might not intimidate the New York Yankees with their bats, but October might turn out better with Haren and Jered Weaver atop the starting rotation and Ervin Santana joining Brian Fuentes, Fernando Rodney and Kevin Jepsen at the back end of the bullpen.

The Angels could groom Santana, who has a 2.77 earned-run average in six postseason relief appearances, as their closer next season. They would have Haren under contract through 2012, with a 2013 option, at roughly the same annual salary ($12 million) as Scott Kazmir.

Roy Oswalt costs more in dollars, so the cost in prospects would be less, but he is 32. Haren is 29, and he has pitched almost 600 fewer innings. The Angels don't do bidding wars, so Cliff Lee won't be coming in free agency.

No Angels starter at triple A or double A is having a distinguished season, another reason to try to deal for Haren. They could include some top position players, but Arizona would have to accept pitching prospects that probably could not step right into the majors.

The Diamondbacks could hang on to their ace and build around him, of course. But, if they're serious about rebuilding, that means trading the guy who can command the greatest return. That's Haren.

Yu betterbe wary

Yu Darvish, 23, the Japanese phenom who had 20 strikeouts in 13 innings in the World Baseball Classic, is considered the international player most likely to trigger a bidding war between the Yankees and Boston Red Sox, if he becomes available to major league teams.

Darvish is the defending Pacific League most valuable player and the highest-paid pitcher in the league, at 300 million yen (about $3.3 million).

However, he has thrown more than 135 pitches in six of his starts this season, according to the Japanese baseball website npbtracker.com. He threw 150 pitches in one game, 156 in the next.

"Even in Japan, 150 is not normal," the Dodgers' Hiroki Kuroda told The Times' Dylan Hernandez. "I would usually top out at around 130. But he gets a lot of strikeouts, so his pitch count gets high. [Daisuke] Matsuzaka walked a lot of hitters, so his pitch count used to get pretty high too.

"It's part of the Japanese mentality to pitch without any concern about pitch counts. You're taught to go as long as you can. Pitching in the majors can be confusing initially, because pitchers rarely go nine innings here."

Catcher inthe wry

Wedding bells ring Sunday for former Dodgers catcher Jason Phillips. He is the bullpen catcher for the Seattle Mariners, and he met his bride by tossing her a ball with his phone number on it.

So, after the Mariners play the Cincinnati Reds, Phillips will get married … in the bullpen, of course.

"It kind of has to be there," he told the Seattle Times. "It's only right."

— Bill Shaikin

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