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Aaron Harang deal not flashy, but removes one lingering question

April 07, 2013|By Steve Dilbeck
  • The Dodgers traded Aaron Harang to the Colorado Rockies for veteran catcher Ramon Hernandez.
The Dodgers traded Aaron Harang to the Colorado Rockies for veteran catcher… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )

And then there were seven.

Which may sound like two too many starting pitchers, but is a more livable number now that the Dodgers have traded Aaron Harang to the Colorado Rockies for General Manager Ned Colletti’s latest creaky catcher, Ramon Hernandez.

Now maybe you’re a tad disappointed that the Dodgers couldn’t come up with something better than a 36-year-old coming off a season in which he hit .217 with five home runs and 28 runs batted in.

And, sure, a decent prospect may have sounded more enticing than another journeyman catcher.

But it’s not like the Dodgers having three extra starters were some kind of recent revelation. Colletti has had months to feel out interest.

With the deal, the Dodgers saved a little money, picked up a veteran catcher and created some minor breathing room on the pitching staff. If they didn’t win big, they didn’t lose either, and that counts for something.

The move allows Tim Federowicz to return to triple A, where he can still play every day, which is probably more valuable to him – if less satisfying – than playing once a week as A.J. Ellis’ backup. Ellis could explain to Federowicz the value in patience.

Really, the Dodgers had no idea what to do with Harang in the bullpen. He takes awhile to warm up and had precious little experience as a reliever. He was a bullpen conundrum.  Which explains why he has yet to pitch this season, and was last seen on a mound in spring training on March 26th.

Harang was a very decent 10-10 with a 3.61 earned-run average last season for the Dodgers, but very decent is no longer good enough for a team with title ambitions.

Federowicz, who is still scheduled to start Sunday, is likely to be sent down Wednesday when the Dodgers are expected to activate right-hander Chad Billingsley. In the short term, they will go with three catchers.

The trade somewhat cements Chris Capuano’s role as the long man out of the bullpen. Capuano is hardly thrilled with not starting, but teams certainly need at least six starters over the course of the season, and he appears next in line.

At some point the Dodgers will have to make a decision about left-hander Ted Lilly, who was hardly sharp in his rehab start Friday. At one point it looked as if left-handed reliever Paco Rodriguez would likely be sent down when Lilly is ready, but Rodriguez is looking sharp and making himself difficult to option.

By the time Lilly is ready, injuries could easily clear his return. Or he could also be traded, though his age (37) and salary ($13.1 million) would make that, er, challenging.

Harang was immediately designated for assignment by the Rockies, so maybe they have better luck trading him for better value. For now, for the Dodgers, there is value in simply having one lingering question mark removed.

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