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Roy Oswalt and Dan Haren: A Phillies Fan's Primer

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With heavy trade deadline buzz concluding that the Phillies are "determined" to acquire either Houston Astros righty Roy Oswalt, or Arizona Diamondbacks starter Dan Haren, now would be a good time to break these two down.

Preliminary Matters: In either an Oswalt or Haren deal, it's likely that right fielder Jayson Werth would need to be dealt, probably to a third team, to acquire prospects who could be lumped together with a Phillies farmhand or two to form the haul required to land the pitcher.

ROY OSWALT:

AGE: 32

2010: $15MM; 2011: $16MM; 2012: $16MM club option ($2MM buyout)

Oswalt may opt-out of club option and receive buyout

Full no-trade clause

ASTROS DEMANDS:

The Astros farm system is almost as bad as the big league club, ranking at or near the bottom of most rankings, and that's saying something.  GM Ed Wade is surely going to want to restock the farm system with some high-upside prospects and probably a major league ready pitcher to take Oswalt's spot in the rotation.  The talent required to acquire Oswalt will likely not be as high as for Haren, as Oswalt is only signed through 2011.  Oswalt has heavily intimated that he wants his 2012 option picked up, which frankly is reasonable of him -- would you turn down an opportunity to guarantee yourself another $16 million?

PERFORMANCE:

Oswalt has been one of baseball's most durable pitchers, starting at least 30 games a season since 2004.  Despite leading the league with 12 losses, Oswalt is in the middle of one of his best seasons in 2010, posting a 3.42 ERA and 120 strikeouts in 129 innings pitched, even after his dreadful start yesterday.  His BABIP allowed is a sort of low .276, which will likely regress a bit, but his HR/FB ratio is within normal limits, so as long as he keeps the strikeout rate high, he should stave off a collapse.

CONCLUSION:

In Roy Oswalt, the Phillies would be getting an elite starting pitcher, but one who is only controlled for one full season after 2010, and one for whom there are and remain concerns about injury, particularly back problems.  Oswalt is a smallish right-hander (6'0") so there are questions about longterm durability.  And, well, this is Ed Wade we're talking about, negotiating when backed into a corner was never one of his strong suits.  Oh, Travis Lee...

More (Dan Haren!) after the jump...

DAN HAREN:

AGE: 29

2010: $8.25MM; 2011: $12.75MM; 2012: $12.75MM; 2013: $15.5MM club option ($3.5MM buyout)

DIAMONDBACKS DEMANDS:

Unlike the Astros, the Diamondbacks have a decent young core in place (Stephen Drew, Justin Upton, Mark Reynolds), but not much else left in the minors, aside from prospect Jarrod Parker who is missing 2010 after recovery from Tommy John surgery.  Like the Astros, the Snakes will want prospects back, and a Major League ready player also.  Due to the length and favorability of Haren's contract, the Diamondbacks will ask for (and get) more and/or better prospects in any trade.  With General Manager Josh Byrnes booted from his job earlier this summer, interim GM Jerry Dipoto might have orders from on high to make the deal, so there might be some pressure to get this done on their end.

PERFORMANCE:

Dan Haren has been nothing short of one of the best pitchers in baseball for the past few seasons.  His ERA+ numbers in 2007-2009 (138, 139, 146) are outstanding.  He is currently leading the National League in strikeouts, with 141.

His 2010 numbers, on their face, don't look very pretty.  His 4.60 ERA is mediocre, and he's allowed a league leading 161 hits in 141 innings pitched.  But a closer look at his other numbers reveals how fluky bad this very well could be:

Haren's BABIP against is an astronomically high .341 (average is approximately .300).  His Home Run/Flyball ratio, at 10.2%, is a career high (pitchers generally have little control over how many flyballs leave the yard).  His career average is 8.0%.  Despite this, his K/9 and K/BB rates are right in line with career norms, showing that Haren is controlling everything that he can control, and that he's been bamboozled by a lot of bad luck.

One concern that's hard to explain are his 1st half/2nd half splits (h/t to azrider at BackSheGoes.com for compiling these):

2007 1st half 2.30 ERA .999 WHIP .583 OPS
2007 2nd half 4.15 ERA 1.50 WHIP .813 OPS

2008 1st half 2.72 ERA .955 WHIP .582 OPS
2008 2nd half 4.18 ERA 1.37 WHIP .775 OPS

2009 1st half 2.01 ERA .808 WHIP .529 OPS
2009 2nd half 4.62 ERA 1.26 WHIP .762 OPS

While useful and troubling, another closer look shows the same BABIP bad luck that seems to have stymied Haren in the first half this season.

2007: 1st half .234 BABIP, 3.16 SO/BB
2007: 2nd half .357 BABIP, 3.96 SO/BB

2008: 1st half .256 BABIP, 5.09 SO/BB
2008: 2nd half .375 BABIP, 5.22 SO/BB

2009: 1st half .233 BABIP, 8.06 SO/BB
2009: 2nd half .315 BABIP, 4.27 SO/BB

Haren is showing a trend of pitching in tremendously good luck in the first half, and worse luck in the second.  In 2007 and 2008, he actually improved on his SO/BB ratios, while in 2009, his SO/BB went from ridiculously awesome to merely very good in the second half.

It's hard to tell what this first half/second half split really means.  What's extremely hard to prove is that Haren totally collapses in the second half due to anything within his control.

CONCLUSION:

Despite their current three game winning streak, the Phillies are still decided longshots to make it to the 2010 postseason, sitting six games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East and three games back in the loss column in a crowded NL Wild Card field.  Any trades that the Phillies make at the deadline need to be made with 2011-2013 in mind, with the prospects of a postseason run in 2010 as an afterthought.

Dan Haren carries more upside, but also more risk, as the Phillies would be committed to him through at least 2012, and injury or ineffectiveness could make that contract a heavy burden on an already taxed payroll.  Roy Oswalt, on the other hand, could skate after 2011 or 2012 if the option is picked up, but is signed at a higher annual value.

The Phillies' braintrust also needs to consider how, if at all, these contracts would affect their ability to sign Jimmy Rollins, whose contract is up after 2011, and Cole Hamels, signed through 2011 but still arbitration eligible in 2012.

The worst thing the Phillies could do is go all-in, win-now, and decimate the talent-rich Single-A farm teams in an attempt to reach the postseason this year.  Ideally the Phillies wouldn't have to part with more than one or two of top prospects Jarred Cosart, Brody Colvin, and Jonathan Singleton.  There is still significant depth at the lower levels, however, and an attractive package could probably be assembled with big league starter J.A. Happ, one of Singleton/Cosart/Colvin, and two B or C level prospects (i.e., Jiwan James, J.C. Ramirez, Austin Hyatt, Justin DeFratus, Scott Mathieson).