Despite being seven games behind the first place Texas Rangers in the American League West, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are not going down without a fight. Earlier in the week, they acquired Alberto Callaspo from the Kansas City Royals and now they have perhaps acquired the best pitcher left on the trade market.

The Angels have acquired RHP Dan Haren from the Arizona Diamondbacks for LHP Joe Saunders and minor leaguers Patrick Corbin, Rafael Rodriguez, and Tyler Skaggs.

When I first saw this trade I thought two things: First, the Angels came out of nowhere on this one and 2. I had the same reaction that George’s girlfriend had when he came out of the pool in the Hamptons. There had to be more.

Unfortunately, for the Diamondbacks there wasn’t anymore to this trade. What a steal for the Angels. Maybe the Diamondbacks had better offers, maybe they didn’t. But it looks like the Diamondbacks didn’t get nearly enough for a pitcher who is signed for another two seasons after 2010 and has a club option for 2013.

Here is a breakdown of the trade…

What the Angels get

When you looked at the Angels starting rotation prior to this trade, outside of Jered Weaver it was very mediocre. Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana, Scott Kazmir, and Joel Piniero are nice pitchers, but they are all No. 3 or 4 starters on a World Series caliber ball club.

Now with Haren and Weaver at the top of the Angels rotation, Anaheim has a one-two punch just as good as any team in the American League. Haren is a legit No.1 starter and will be for the Angels for the next two and maybe three years.

Haren is signed through the next two years at a very reasonable $12.75 million. He has a club option for 2013 for $15.5 million with a $3.5 million buyout.

Now some will point to Haren’s 7-8 record with a 4.60 ERA this season and at the age of 29, think he is on the decline. Well, he is not.

His 9.00 K/9 and 40.8 percent groundball rate in 2010 are the best of his career and he hasn’t lost anything on his fastball (velocity on his fastball is where it was last season). I would say Haren’s season can attributed to him pitching on a terrible team.

I expect with a trade to Anaheim, Haren will get a shot of adrenaline and pitch very well.

What the Diamondbacks get

Joe Saunders is your classic left-handed finesse pitcher. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff and is at best a No. 3 or 4 starter on a good team.

When the Angels had to start Saunders in Game 6 of the ALCS last season against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium, I knew the Angels had no shot. There was no way Saunders was walking into Yankee Stadium and winning that game.

Saunders was 6-10 with a 4.62 ERA for the Angels this season. His 38.4 flyball percentage was the highest of Saunders’ career. I am not sure how that is going to fare in hitter’s ballpark in Arizona.

The Diamondbacks will have Saunders under team control through 2011. My guess is the Diamondbacks will try to re-establish his value and then trade him again at some point. I can’t see him being in their long-term plans.

Patrick Corbin is a 21-year-old left-handed pitcher who is currently 5-3 with a 3.88 ERA for High Single-A Rancho Cucamonga. He has made 11 starts this year and his 9.5 K/9 is the highest of his minor league career so far.

Rafael Rodriguez has been up with the Angels twice over the last two years and things didn’t fare so well for the 25-year-old out of the Dominican Republic. In 32.2 IP, Rodriguez has given up 48 hits, 11 walks and only has struck out 11.

He has a 3.04 ERA in 50.1 relief innings this season for Triple-A Salt Lake.

Tyler Skaggs was the No. 8 ranked prospect in the Angels’ organization prior to the season according to Baseball America. He has impressed this season in Single-A going 8-4 with a 3.61 ERA 9.0 K’s/9.

The Diamondbacks had the trade chip of all trade chips at the deadline — an ace pitcher, who has a reasonable contract for the next two years and didn’t get nearly enough in return.

Good trade for the Angels.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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