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Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Robothal: Nationals sign Dan Haren, pending physical

“Pending physical” has a weird capacity where it can read as either meaningless and perfunctory or legitimately ominous.

Sources: Dan Haren in agreement with #Nationals, one year, $13M. Pending physical.

Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 04, 2012 at 12:06 PM | 39 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dan haren, nationals, transactions

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   1. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 04, 2012 at 12:14 PM (#4316421)
So, no Greinke then for the Nats. The Dodgers seem the obvious choice for him, but he's just offbeat enough I think he could end up anywhere.
   2. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 04, 2012 at 12:18 PM (#4316428)
Waiting on further confirmation, but it's interesting that based on this report, Haren went for a one-year deal without an option. He's obviously hoping to regain his old stuff (or figure out how to be good with his new stuff) and then hit the free agent market again as the best pitcher available. Based on what we know, this is a nice signing for a contender. Haren might be cooked, which would make this a bad signing, but I think it's way too early to draw that conclusion.

Pending physical.
   3. For the Turnstiles (andeux) Posted: December 04, 2012 at 12:20 PM (#4316429)
So Haren ends up with $1 Million more ($3.5M buyout + $13M) than if the Angels had exercised his option?
   4. McCoy Posted: December 04, 2012 at 12:21 PM (#4316433)
If the Cubs wouldn't take him I'm not so sure on his health.
   5. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: December 04, 2012 at 12:25 PM (#4316441)
#3 - Yep! I wonder how common that is.
   6. Spectral Posted: December 04, 2012 at 12:34 PM (#4316461)
Even if he's totally cooked, I think the Nats can survive a few crummy starts, and they're not locked into anything long term. I like this deal, but I want them to be ready to pull the plug and replace Haren early in the year if it's clear he just doesn't have the stuff. If he is good, this could be really excellent. It's a shame they couldn't have built a club option in, but I suppose that wouldn't have been attractive to Haren.
   7. Bourbon Samurai Posted: December 04, 2012 at 12:56 PM (#4316501)
Seems like a good deal to me, and keeps them from being pressured to trade Morse.
   8. AROM, Instagram Gangsta Posted: December 04, 2012 at 01:04 PM (#4316513)
Dan Haren is a fine hitter, and will be more useful in the NL for that part of his game.
   9. Champions Table Posted: December 04, 2012 at 01:28 PM (#4316547)
And Strasburg can hit a bit too, right? I often wonder why teams don't spend a little more time training their pitchers to hit. Seems like an easy way to pluck some proverbial low-hanging fruit. Even if a pitcher goes from hitting .125 to .180, that's gotta be worth something.
   10. morineko Posted: December 04, 2012 at 01:42 PM (#4316561)
If pitchers can hit, 99% of the time they become more valuable as not-pitchers. Babe Ruth and Stan Musial are rather your exemplars in this genre.
   11. DL from MN Posted: December 04, 2012 at 01:44 PM (#4316567)
Pitchers miss out on the hundreds upon hundreds of minor league plate appearances that position players get during their development. It takes that much repetition to get good at hitting at this level.
   12. Chris Needham Posted: December 04, 2012 at 01:58 PM (#4316584)
Zimmermann and Gio can hit a little bit too. I'm not sure what their offense was relative to the league, but Davey probably bunted his SP less than other teams, and seemed to get the big hit quite often.

I vaguely remember reading an old study that having a solid hitting pitcher -- someone like Livan in his prime -- was the equivalent of something like .2-.3 runs of ERA.
   13. eddieot Posted: December 04, 2012 at 02:08 PM (#4316603)
I wonder how much of his velocity loss is related to his nagging back problems. I'm afraid he adds two ticks or so to his fastball, back up to 90, and the Nats get a great deal here. Plus even with his struggles last year, he still started 30 games. A return to the NL. I like this deal for the Nats the more I think about it. As a Phils fan, not so much.
   14. AROM, Instagram Gangsta Posted: December 04, 2012 at 02:32 PM (#4316648)
If pitchers can hit, 99% of the time they become more valuable as not-pitchers. Babe Ruth and Stan Musial are rather your exemplars in this genre.


If by hit you mean hit like Babe or the Man, then yes they will alway be more valuable as position players.

It's a very relative term though. Dan Haren can hit well for a pitcher. He's worth several runs per year (playing in the NL at least) more than a typical crappy hitting pitcher. But his bat isn't anywhere near good enough to hold a position job.

Rick Ankiel was a great hitting pitcher, and useful position player for a few years. He would have been a lot more valuable though if he had retained his ability to throw strikes.
   15. bookbook Posted: December 04, 2012 at 02:36 PM (#4316653)
Vargas hits well for a pitcher. He hits well for a Mariner! My cat hits well for a Mariner.
   16. zack Posted: December 04, 2012 at 02:41 PM (#4316660)
Zimmermann and Gio can hit a little bit too. I'm not sure what their offense was relative to the league, but Davey probably bunted his SP less than other teams, and seemed to get the big hit quite often.


The Nats pitchers were incredible hitters last year. Collectively they hit .164/.208/.221 vs. a league average of .129/.162/.168, which is a 162 OPS+ relative to position. Strasburg, Zimmerman and Jackson were all in the top 10 wRC+ for pitchers with 40 PA. Zimmerman and Haren have good (~30-40 wRC+) track records, Strasburg obviously does not.

The Nats had 244 PA as PH (not just for the pitcher). The other 15 teams average 354 PA.
   17. Tom Nawrocki Posted: December 04, 2012 at 02:45 PM (#4316667)
Have the Nats announced Haren's innings limit yet?
   18. Ron J2 Posted: December 04, 2012 at 02:47 PM (#4316671)
I often wonder why teams don't spend a little more time training their pitchers to hit. Seems like an easy way to pluck some proverbial low-hanging fruit.


I think the answer is that it's really hard to hit major league pitching and most pitchers don't start with the requisite abilities. (since it's not what they're selected for)

Literally for decades the Reds tried to gain an advantage at the major league level by forgoing the DH in the minors. It just never translated to anything useful at the major league level.

I've often wondered though about taking position players who have a good work ethic but are about to wash out and trying to make them a knuckleballer. Oh the success rate would be very low but how many successes would you need?

Tom House (in Diamond Appraised) argues that there's no room for any such trials on minor league rosters but that strikes me as obvious nonsense. Every team has a certain number of NPs in their organization. You might have to move a guy down the chain, but most players will do what it takes to stay in the game.
   19. McCoy Posted: December 04, 2012 at 02:59 PM (#4316689)
The Nats had 244 PA as PH (not just for the pitcher). The other 15 teams average 354 PA.

Is that a good thing? I'd imagine a PH would hit better than .164/.208/.221 and I would assume that a RP would do better against the lineup that has cycled through a 3rd time through.
   20. Mike Emeigh Posted: December 04, 2012 at 03:02 PM (#4316695)
Edwin Jackson redux. Sign a one-year deal for beaucoup dollars and hope to be better positioned after a successful season. It's a good move for both the pitcher and the team.

-- MWE
   21. morineko Posted: December 04, 2012 at 03:27 PM (#4316727)
If by hit you mean hit like Babe or the Man, then yes they will alway be more valuable as position players.


They're the top of the list guys. I'm more thinking about guys like Brock Kjeldgaard or Micah Owings (or, yes, Rick Ankiel after he started to be bad at pitching)--not very good pitchers. Musial would have been in this bucket too if not for the really excellent hitting, as he was also a minor league conversion.
   22. morineko Posted: December 04, 2012 at 03:30 PM (#4316731)
I've often wondered though about taking position players who have a good work ethic but are about to wash out and trying to make them a knuckleballer.


Aren't position player to pitcher conversions a lot more commonplace than the other way around? Although it's more in the cases of great arm (not necessarily velocity, but it does help) with good control, but can't hit over .200 in the low minors....
   23. Walt Davis Posted: December 04, 2012 at 03:35 PM (#4316739)
It's interesting that they didn't make a QO to Jackson though. If they were willing to have Haren for 1/$13, I can't see why they wouldn't take the risk of Jackson accepting 1/$13. (Note, this is not the same as saying that Jackson is as good a pitcher as Haren but he might well be better and/or more reliable at this point.)

So, no Greinke then for the Nats. The Dodgers seem the obvious choice for him

I still don't see this. They already have Beckett, Billingsley, Kershaw, Harang, Capuano and Lilly (if the arm still works) under contract. Obviously "too many" starters is an easy problem to solve but it's not a logical landing spot.

   24. Chris Needham Posted: December 04, 2012 at 03:38 PM (#4316744)
Walt -- Jackson really faded down the stretch for them. And he was terrible in the playoffs. I think I saw that he had one of the biggest drops in velocity, too. They probably saw some things there that weren't worth the risk. I think they valued the flexibility of that $... it allowed them to kick the tires on Greinke and whoever else was out there without the risk of suddenly being stuck with an extra pitcher they didn't really want.
   25. JJ1986 Posted: December 04, 2012 at 03:41 PM (#4316750)
I still don't see this. They already have Beckett, Billingsley, Kershaw, Harang, Capuano and Lilly (if the arm still works) under contract. Obviously "too many" starters is an easy problem to solve but it's not a logical landing spot.


They don't really have a great #2 guy after Kershaw (unless odd-year Beckett returns.) And Capuano should be incredibly easy to trade if they want.
   26. Bourbon Samurai Posted: December 04, 2012 at 04:29 PM (#4316829)
i was in line for food when strasburg hit his first home run last year.
   27. Champions Table Posted: December 04, 2012 at 04:36 PM (#4316841)
Dynamite drop-in, Monte!
   28. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: December 04, 2012 at 04:46 PM (#4316866)
They don't really have a great #2 guy after Kershaw (unless odd-year Beckett returns.) And Capuano should be incredibly easy to trade if they want.

Also, they have a ridiculous amount of money burning a hole in their pocket and are spending it like it's going out of style. I agree it's not a very logical landing spot, but the Dodgers are not behaving very logically these days.
   29. AROM, Instagram Gangsta Posted: December 04, 2012 at 04:51 PM (#4316876)
Aren't position player to pitcher conversions a lot more commonplace than the other way around? Although it's more in the cases of great arm (not necessarily velocity, but it does help) with good control, but can't hit over .200 in the low minors....


Seems that way. I can think of a number of position player to pitcher conversions (Pedro Strop, Sergio Santos, Doolittle, one of the Tony Penas, probably more) but in the other direction, not as many.

Ankiel is the major one. Adam Loewen made it to the 2011 Jays as an OF, but played only in the minors for 2012, and not particularly well. I wonder if Micah Owings will give it a try. Still has a SLG over .500 in the big leagues. In the minors, he played one game at 1B and one at DH this year - the first time in his pro career he played something other than pitcher.
   30. JJ1986 Posted: December 04, 2012 at 04:55 PM (#4316894)
probably more


Kenley Jansen, Jason Motte, Yhency Brazoban, Brian N. Anderson, Travis Schlichting, Matt West, Billy Rowell.

   31. morineko Posted: December 04, 2012 at 05:11 PM (#4316930)
Owings has been playing OF in winter ball--if I could recall which team and league, I'd tell you.
   32. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 04, 2012 at 05:16 PM (#4316941)
Kenley Jansen, Jason Motte, Yhency Brazoban, Brian N. Anderson, Travis Schlichting, Matt West, Billy Rowell.


Carlos Marmol, Tim Wakefield, and D.J. Carrasco, too.

I can think of a number of position player to pitcher conversions (Pedro Strop, Sergio Santos, Doolittle, one of the Tony Penas, probably more) but in the other direction, not as many.


Brian Bogusevic. Turn-of-the-century star Buck Freeman. Minor league home run champ Buzz Arlett. Smokey Joe Wood, of course.
   33. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 04, 2012 at 05:17 PM (#4316944)
I still don't see this. They already have Beckett, Billingsley, Kershaw, Harang, Capuano and Lilly (if the arm still works) under contract. Obviously "too many" starters is an easy problem to solve but it's not a logical landing spot.


Word here in Pittsburgh is that the Dodgers are trying to move Capuano to the Pirates.
   34. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: December 04, 2012 at 09:37 PM (#4317241)
Troy Percival was a MiLB catcher. His conversion went well.

I also don't know why they'd be afraid to pay Jackson $13.3 million and give Haren more. Haren is throwing in the high 80's and gave up a ton of homers.

   35. Tom Nawrocki Posted: December 04, 2012 at 11:03 PM (#4317281)
Ron Mahay spent five years as an outfielder in the minors.
   36. SM Posted: December 04, 2012 at 11:59 PM (#4317309)
If they were willing to have Haren for 1/$13, I can't see why they wouldn't take the risk of Jackson accepting 1/$13.


Well in 2011 Jackson had a 3.79 ERA (108 ERA+) and had to settle for a 1-year deal for 11 million. In 2012 he had a 4.03 ERA (98 ERA+). So 1 year for 13.3 would seem like an overpay.
   37. Bourbon Samurai Posted: December 05, 2012 at 01:50 PM (#4317746)
Yes, at first I was annoyed about not offering Jackson the qualifying offer, but Haren is big improvement there.
   38. Random Transaction Generator Posted: December 05, 2012 at 02:57 PM (#4317846)
Carlos Marmol, Tim Wakefield, and D.J. Carrasco, too.


Dave Stieb was 110 PA into his minor league OF career before they switched him to pitching.
He then had one AB in 1980 in the majors, and never had another plate appearance for the rest of his career.

   39. Walt Davis Posted: December 05, 2012 at 06:01 PM (#4318112)
- Jackson really faded down the stretch for them. And he was terrible in the playoffs. I think I saw that he had one of the biggest drops in velocity, too. They probably saw some things there that weren't worth the risk. I think they valued the flexibility of that $... it allowed them to kick the tires on Greinke and whoever else was out there without the risk of suddenly being stuck with an extra pitcher they didn't really want.

Well in 2011 Jackson had a 3.79 ERA (108 ERA+) and had to settle for a 1-year deal for 11 million. In 2012 he had a 4.03 ERA (98 ERA+). So 1 year for 13.3 would seem like an overpay.

But it's only a risk that he'll accept and he has a short deadline in which to accept. Haren carries all the warning signs of Jackson if not more -- drop in velocity and a TERRIBLE 2012. Haren is also 3 years older. Haren does have more upside of course. But if Jackson would be an extra pitcher, what's Haren?

But I'm not saying they should have wanted Jackson over Haren -- it's a close call in my book. I'm saying they make a QO to Jackson and the worst-case scenario is they end up with him instead of Haren on essentially the same contract. The alternative is they end up with Haren and an extra draft pick. That worst-case scenario isn't very scary and had a relatively low chance of occurring.

Now, fair enough, if they suspect Jackson isn't going to pass any team's physical then it makes sense not to make the QO.

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