Before I dissolve into a fit of rage when I profile Carlos Villanueva, I wanted to take a look at someone that could actually provide some decent pitching in 2013 (provided he stays healthy): Dan Haren of the Los Angeles Angels.
Who is he?
Haren is a 32 year old right-handed pitcher who has some pretty awesome career numbers. In 10 seasons, he has a 119-97 record and 3.66 ERA. He strikes out 7.6 batters per 9 innings while walking just 1.9 per 9 innings. He never won a Cy Young during his years with the Oakland Athletics or Arizona Diamondbacks, but he did make three consecutive All-Star teams from 2007-2009. Last season, Haren battled a back injury for most of the year, going 12-13 with a 4.33 ERA and 1.291 WHIP, both of which were the highest figures he had since 2004.
Why should we care?
Prior to last season, Haren was one of the most dependable arms in baseball. From 2005 to 2011, he never pitched less than 216 innings in a season and his highest ERA during that span was 4.16 with the A's in 2006. Overall, he was 101-74 during that stretch with a 3.49 ERA. He strikes out a decent number of hitters and he hardly walks anyone. Simply put, when he's on, Haren is one of the best pitchers in the game.
Why should we stay away?
Haren's health is apparently so much of a concern that teams don't want to offer him more than a one-year contract. He was set to be traded to the Chicago Cubs for closer Carlos Marmol, but that deal apparently fell through because of Haren's health. Teams are concerned about his velocity, but I don't think anyone is sure whether his velocity dropped because of his injury or because of some other health problem(s).
I'm also concerned with Haren's recent drop in strikeout rate. Ever since he arrived in Los Angeles in 2010, he has only struck out 7.2 batters per 9 innings, a huge drop off from the 8.7 strikeouts per 9 innings he had during his time in Arizona. This is something that predates his injury troubles of 2012 and makes me wonder whether Haren was adjusting to a different style of pitching philosophy in Los Angeles -- their defense is pretty good, remember -- or if he is starting to show his age. While I would lean toward the former -- Haren only walked 1.2 batters per 9 innings in 2011, indicating he was attacking the strike zone more often -- I'm afraid that the latter is going to play a larger role moving forward.
Will he end up in Detroit?
I don't know that I see this one happening, but ask me again in a couple of months. If Haren is still available in January (or even February), the Tigers may pick him up if they fail to sign Anibal Sanchez. Haren is a solid pitcher who could provide some nice mentorship for the young pitchers on the staff, if not some decent production himself.