Courtesy of the L.A. Times' Dylan Hernandez, a hot little rumor:
- The Dodgers have started exploring a possible trade with the Cincinnati Reds for pitcher Aaron Harang, according to multiple baseball sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the talks.
The Reds are asking for one or two players on the Dodgers' major league roster in return.
The Dodgers would want the Reds to pay for a portion of the $15 million Harang would be guaranteed if he is traded.
Harang is owed $12.5 million in 2010 and has a $12.75-million club option for 2011 with a $2-million buyout. If Harang is traded, the option would become a mutual option worth $14 million and the price of the buyout would increase to $2.5 million.
If this is real, you have to admire Ned Colletti. There aren't many general managers who would happily trade for a pitcher who's 12-31 over the last two seasons.
Harang's better than 12-31, though.
When you look at the last few years, you see a considerable decline in durability. After averaging 226 innings per season from 2005 through 2007, Harang pitched 184 innings in 2008 and just 162 innings in 2009. But he was knocked out last August by appendicitis; before that he was heading for 33 or 34 starts (and it's highly unlikely that he'll have another appendix removed).
So if history's any guide, Harang is a good bet for 200 innings in 2009.
What else has been "wrong" with Harang?
He's been unlucky, and he's been in the wrong ballpark.
When I say unlucky, I mean seriously unlucky.
Harang's got a 4.52 ERA over the past two seasons. That's not good, but it should have led to a 12-31 record. Harang clearly hasn't gotten much run support, and I suspect he's not had much bullpen support, either.
Harang's given up (roughly) a .330 batting average on balls in play, in those two seasons. That's a huge BABiP, and almost certainly won't happen again.
His stuff is basically what it's always been, and Harang continues to strike out three batters for every batter he walks (among the 41 pitchers with at least 300 innings over the last two seasons, Harang's strikeout-to-walk ratio ranks seventh).
Harang is a fly-ball pitcher, which has lately been a double-whammy because 1) more of his fly balls than usual have carried the fence, and 2) his home ballpark is the homer-happiest ballpark in the National League.
Add it all up, and what do you have? A pitcher who, removed from his bad luck and a bad (for him) ballpark, should make a perfectly good replacement for the departed Randy Wolf.
If you're a Dodgers fan, you should hope that this is more than just a rumor.