Angels acquire Dan Haren from the Diamondbacks for Joe Saunders and three prospects

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According to the Diamondbacks’ official Twitter page the team has traded Dan Haren to the Angels for Joe Saunders, Patrick Corbin, Rafael Rodriguez, and a player to be named later.
While the Yankees, Twins, Tigers, and Cardinals were all repeatedly linked to Haren over the past couple weeks, the Angels kind of came out of nowhere to snag the ace right-hander.
Most reports said the Diamondbacks were focused on getting back some MLB-ready pitching help in a Haren deal and certainly Saunders fits that bill, but as a 29-year-old who has posted an ERA under 4.40 just once in his career he’s hardly a long-term building block.
He’s little more than a soon-to-be 30-year-old mid-rotation starter and neither Corbin nor Rodriguez were ranked among the Angels’ top 10 prospects by Baseball America heading into the season, so the identity of the player to be named later is key.
Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the PTBL “is a top prospect” but is “not going to be Mike Trout,” who ranks as one of the elite prospects in all of baseball. No other Angels were included in Baseball America‘s midseason update of the top 25 prospects in baseball, so while the PTBNL may prove to be someone very good it won’t be an elite prospect. And because of that, I really like this deal for the Angels.
Saunders is generally overrated because his career win-loss record is much better than his ERA, secondary numbers, or raw stuff, and to get Haren by packaging him with three non-elite prospects is a no-brainer for the Angels. Haren is signed for reasonable money through 2013 and is a legitimate top-of-the-rotation ace who ranks among the top 12-15 starters in baseball.
I’m shocked that the Diamondbacks were willing to sell so low on Haren and just as surprised that no other teams stepped up to beat the Angels’ underwhelming offer.

A scout thinks the Astros strike out too much. The Astros have the lowest strikeout total in baseball.

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Great moments in scouting. MLB.com’s Richard Justice spoke to an unnamed scout about the Astros, currently holding the American League’s best record at 76-47. The scout said that the Astros strike out too much and it will catch up with them. Justice pointed out that the Astros have the lowest strikeout total in baseball. The scout responded, “I don’t believe that.”

Justice, of course, is correct. The average major league team has struck out 1,006 times entering Sunday’s action. The Astros have by far the lowest total at 827, followed by the Indians at 881 and the Pirates at 882.

This scout doesn’t represent all scouts, but this is one of the major problems that advocates of statistics were trying to highlight before Sabermetrics became popular a decade ago. It’s a pattern. Person believes thing. Person either cherry-picks evidence to defend belief or is shown evidence that belief is not factually true and ignores it. Person refuses to change belief, using one of many excuses.

The other problem this highlights is the fallacy of “the eye test,” which is shorthand for treating a scout’s observations as sacrosanct due to his or her experience and knowledge of the game. In this case, the scout ignored easily accessed information, went with his gut, and turned out to be completely wrong. Furthermore, if “the eye test” were legit, the scout would’ve known that, for example, Yulieski Gurriel and Jose Altuve hardly ever strike out (11.1 and 12.4 percent strikeout rates, respectively). In fact, no one on the Astros’ roster (min. 230 PA) has a strikeout rate above 21 percent; the league average is 21.5 percent.

This isn’t to impugn the practice of scouting as a whole. There are a lot of things scouts can tell you about a player that data cannot and that has value. But for easily-researched claims like “the Astros strike out too much,” there’s no reason to trust a scout over the stats.

Mets acquire Jacob Rhame from Dodgers

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The Mets acquired right-handed reliever Jacob Rhame from the Dodgers, the team announced on Sunday. Rhame is the player to be named later in the trade that sent outfielder Curtis Granderson to Los Angeles on Friday night. He’s expected to report to the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.

Rhame, 24, pitched through his second Triple-A campaign with the Oklahoma City Dodgers in 2017, collecting two saves in 41 appearances and logging a 4.31 ERA, 1.9 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 48 innings. While his ERA saw a sharp spike from its modest 3.29 mark in 2016 (perhaps thanks in part to a midseason DL stint due to an undisclosed injury), he’s controlling the ball better than he has in several years and has drawn some attention with a fastball that occasionally touches 98 MPH on the radar gun.

The Mets’ bullpen hasn’t been at its finest over the last few weeks, ranking 16th among its major league competitors with a collective 4.50 ERA and 2.4 fWAR, but likely isn’t looking to add an extreme fly ball pitcher to its staff just yet. Until he gets his big league break, Rhame will beef up Triple-A Vegas’ relief corps alongside fellow right-handers Yaisel Sierra, Joe Broussard and Josh Ravin.