Last week Dan Haren got pretty angry when “a source familiar with the team’s thinking” told Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com that the Angels were planning to decline his 2013 option, saying it was “dumb timing” because the story had the possibility of distracting the team down the stretch.
However, after last night’s start against the Mariners in which he allowed five runs in six innings to take the loss Haren sure sounded like someone who expects to be cut loose just like the unnamed source suggested.
Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times notes that Haren approached reporters by asking “one last time?” and then went on to say:
Definitely, the thought has crossed my mind. Part of me feels a little guilty because of the way this year went. If I would have had my average year, we’d probably be where we want to be. I’m not looking to break the bank, I’m not looking to sign a Zack Greinke deal. I’m looking for whatever is fair. I’ll have to see what happens. Players work hard to get to free agency. I’ve played nine years, and if I become a free agent, it would be stupid not to take advantage of that.
Haren indicated that he’d be open to re-signing with the Angels at a lesser annual salary, but actually hitting the open market and fielding offers from multiple teams has a tendency to make that less appealing for most free agents in his situation.
In past years the Angels choosing a $15.5 million option over a $3.5 million buyout would be a relatively easy decision, but as a 32-year-old with back problems coming off a season in which he posted a 4.33 ERA they may feel that money would be better spent on keeping Zack Greinke long term.
If we haven’t said it before, it bears repeating: When it comes to pure muscle mass and power, no major league player rivals the sheer force of Giancarlo Stanton. His record-setting 504-foot home run in 2016 has yet to be bested in the Statcast era (though it narrowly beat out Jake Arrieta‘s 503-foot blast in 2015, because baseball is weird), he broke the Dodgers’ outfield fence on an attempted catch at the wall last Sunday, and he carries 25 home runs that have each exceeded 460 feet.
It should come as little surprise, then, that when Stanton muscled his 12th home run of the season against the Angels on Friday night, it not only hit the batter’s eye, but left a visible dent in the wall:
Stanton’s mammoth shot put the Marlins on the board in the first inning, setting the stage for a four-run effort that gave the club an early lead. The home run measured a cool 462 feet, the slugger’s longest of the season. He still has a little ways to go to catch up to the 2017 season leader, Jake Lamb, whose 481-foot home run against the Rockies currently leads the pack.
The next item on Stanton’s bucket list? If we’re lucky, maybe something a little like this:
Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.
While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.
When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.