Diamondbacks sound like a team planning to trade Dan Haren


Most of the reports surrounding Dan Haren’s availability have focused on the Diamondbacks’ public stance that they’ll only trade the ace right-hander if they get an “A-plus deal” in return.

That’s a smart approach for them to take because Haren is a) one of the more underrated No. 1 starters in baseball, b) signed for reasonable money through 2013, c) and under 30 years old.

However, what struck me most about team officials stressing what type of top-notch haul they’d need in return for Haren is that the mere act of speaking publicly about such things sure makes it seem like they’re planning to trade him.

For instance, here’s what Diamondbacks chief executive officer Derrick Hall said yesterday:

It would need to be, in our opinion, an A-plus deal. I think ideally what we would ask for is major league-ready pitching, be it starters and/or bullpen and prospects. Volume doesn’t matter, it doesn’t need to be four, five or six guys, it’s really about the quality.

As I’ve said before, if a deal can’t get done for Haren and he’s on our team next year, I’m fine with that. If we can get three or four pieces that can bring value now and are also controllable for a number of years, then we’d have to consider it. If we bring in the right pieces and explain ourselves, fans will understand that it was a move to improve our team now.

To me, a quote like “if a deal can’t get done for Haren and he’s on our team next year, I’m fine with that” sure sounds like a team all but convinced he’ll be traded. If nothing else, it’s a major shift in tone from the team’s public stance on Haren just a couple weeks ago. I’d guess the Diamondbacks have more or less decided to deal Haren and recently made that clear to other teams, which is why just about every contender is suddenly being linked to him.

Haren has a partial no-trade clause that allows him to block a move to 12 teams and has previously said he’d like to remain in Arizona, but according to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com “he would be open-minded about a possible deal.” He’s scheduled to start Tuesday against the Phillies and I’d bet on it being his final start in a Diamondbacks uniform.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
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Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.

George Springer homers to extend Astros’ lead over Royals

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.

The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.