First off, I like to see the addition of Dan Haren to the pitching staff. I expect he’ll be an almost identical plug-in for Edwin Jackson, in terms of eating innings and hopefully hitting a double-digit win total. He brings some solid veteran experience to the staff and team. But he’s also a few years older than Edwin, and he had some injury issues last season. Let’s hope he does not break down this season and leave us with a hole there. Kudos to Mike Rizzo for getting him on a one-year deal. Also great that we did not have to surrender any draft picks, since he was non-tendered by the Angels.
On the flip side of this, the move apparently puts to rest for now the rumors of an Espinosa for Shields deal with the Rays. I’ve been meaning to examine our second base situation, and this provides a good opportunity. Simply put, Espinosa needs to cut down on his strikeout total or he needs to be traded or moved into a utility role. He’s a great fielder, but his batting average and strikeout totals need to improve if he is to remain an everyday player. Hopefully the rumors will serve as a wakeup call to him and he will work on his hitting in the offseason. I’d be interested to see what Lombo could do in a full-time role. Obviously you lose some power, but his average might make up for it in other ways. His range is also similar to Espinosa’s. We’ll see what happens in this regard over the next few weeks.