With a week to go before the trading deadline, the Angels have acquired Dan Haren of the Arizona Diamondbacks, who has been a big name on the trading circuit. The Angels gave up three players to get Haren: pitchers Joe Saunders, Patrick Corbin, Rafael Rodriguez, and a player to be named later.

On the surface, it looks like the Angels gave up too much for too little, given that they’re several games behind the now Cliff Lee-led Texas Rangers. Bringing in Haren and his struggling stats this season is not going to push them over that hump. As a result, many are going to bash this trade when the Angels don’t make the playoffs, saying that it was a waste.

This move is not for this year, however.

Haren is 7-8 with a 4.60 ERA this year. He has not had stats that bad since his time in St. Louis many years back. He’s in his pitching prime right now, and working with a good pitching coach in Mike Butcher, who made Jered Weaver into a star and can put Haren in that category again.

If you compare Haren’s and Saunders’ stats this season, the comparison is quite similar. Haren’s and Saunders’ ERAs are nearly identical (4.60 vs. 4.62). In nearly every other stat though, Haren is slightly better than Saunders, and easily has him bested in strikeouts.

Needless to say, if the Angels want a championship in 2011, they’ll have a much better chance with Haren than Saunders.

Nonetheless, Rafael Rodriguez has been putting up solid numbers, and the 20-year-old Patrick Corbin has amazing upside and is pitching well in Rancho Cucamonga, so is there a possibility the Angels gave up too much? Certainly, but it’s a price that teams have to be willing to pay.

Back to my earlier point however, there is one big difference between this deadline trades and many others. Cliff Lee will not be in a Rangers uniform in 2011. Nor will Roy Oswalt be in an Astros uni, or anyone else who gets traded to another team.

While those pieces move on to better places, suddenly the AL West becomes wide open again, as Cliff Lee will disappear and Oakland and Seattle likely will be going nowhere. As a result, by bringing in Dan Haren, the Angels have the inside track on a playoff spot and a World Series appearance in 2011, though they won’t be there this year unless the Rangers implode.

The Angels know what they’re doing, and while it may take some time (they have time; Haren’s contract goes into 2012 with an option), the rewards from Haren should be big.

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