Fantasy Baseball Thoughts: Ethier, Lee, and Haren

Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Ray Guilfoyle discusses some names in the news recently, including a proposed trade involving Andre Ethier and Cliff Lee.

I hope those of you on the east coast of the U.S. made it through Hurricane Sandy and you and your families are safe and sound. I live in central New Jersey and made it through the hurricane fine, with the exception of losing a tree in my front yard. I will take that any day of the week over the alternatives.

Last last night, ESPN's Buster Olney reported that the Dodgers are willing to deal outfielder Andre Ethier this offseason. This would not have been a surprise a few months ago, but in between then and now, the Dodgers signed Ethier to a crazy 5 year, $85 million deal. The Dodgers certainly overpaid for him, especially since he is 31 years of age, and his power is in a downtrend. That and he seems to be injury prone. Ethier also has loads of trouble hitting lefties, as he is a career .238-.296-.352 hitter against them. His 2012 triple slash line vs lefties was even worse: .222-.276-.330. I am guessing Ned Colletti is not happy that manager Don Mattingly stated that he might platoon Ethier in 2013 right about now.

The question that comes next is why would the Dodgers want to deal Ethier? I assume they either 1) have a trade in the works where they will take on a contract, think Cliff Lee maybe?, or 2) they want to make some room for a free agent like Zack Greinke.

I could see the Phillies wanting to free up some salary after signing Cole Hamels to a long term deal, allowing them to pursue a free agent. Heck, the two teams could hook up in a deal involving Lee to Los Angeles and Ethier to Philadelphia.

As a Dodgers fan, I would prefer a deal for Cliff Lee to signing Greinke to a 6 or 7 year deal. Lee has playoff and World Series experience, and has three years left on his deal with a huge buyout option in the fourth year in the amount of $12.5 million. In essence, he is signed for the next 3 years at $87.5 million, a few million more than what the Dodgers owe Ethier over the next five seasons.

Lee pitched very well in 2012, even though his record did not indicate that he is still an ace level starting pitcher. Lee went 6-9 with a 3.16 ERA, 3.13 FIP. 3.06 xFIP with a 7.39 K/BB rate and a 1.11 WHIP.

Another player who may be on the move is Angels starter Dan Haren. Haren is coming off a terrible 2012 season which saw him go 12-13 in 30 starts, with a 4.33 ERA, 4.24 FIP and 4.00 xFIP, and a 1.29 WHIP. His strikeout rate stayed around the 7.25 range, but his walk rate jumped from 1.25 to 1.94 and his home run per nine innings almost doubled from 0.76 to 1.43. In 2012, he started four less games than in 2011, but pitched 62 less innings, which indicates to me that he was much more hittable in 2012.

The offseason will bring plenty of other trade rumors, and we will be here to address the fantasy impact of all trade and free agent signings throughout the offseason.

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