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The National League: A Pitcher's Paradise

Joe Saunders is the real winner in Angels' trade

By Joel Beall, WhatIfSports.com
July 27th, 2010

Lost in the enshrinement festivities at Cooperstown and A-Rod's "historic" pursuit of 600 homers was Anaheim's acquisition of all-star Dan Haren. Despite his so-so performance thus far in 2010, Haren was considered the finest asset on the MLB trade market. Though the Angels currently sit seven back of division leader Texas, baseball pundits are in universal praise of LAA's coup of attaining Haren's services from the grasps of the New York Yankees. Better yet, most agree the Angels didn't have to break the bank in the deal, giving up floundering starter Joe Saunders and three minor leaguers.

Diamondback fans are undoubtedly antagonistic regarding their newly-acquired left-hander. Yet there is reason for hope in a phoenix-like arising for Saunders. And it's not just that Saunders is two years removed from an All-Star appearance, or that, since May, the former Angel has compiled a better ERA than the departed Haren.

Until this past contest, the Midsummer Classic has been tyrannized by the American League, which in no small part is correlated to their superior pitching. This discrepancy between the two leagues has been exemplified by AL pitchers voyaging over to the Senior Circuit and asserting their authority. Here is a breakdown of recent high-profile pitchers who made the switch from the AL to NL.

AL Lowe


Derek Lowe Lowe's ERA was 5.42 in 2004 with Boston

NL High


Derek Lowe 2 Lowe's ERA dropped 2 runs in the National League

Derek Lowe

2004 (Red Sox): 5.42 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 14-12 W-L

2005 (Dodgers): 3.61 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 12-15 W-L

Pedro Martinez

2004 (Red Sox): 3.90 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 16-9 W-L

2005 (Mets): 2.82 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 15-8 W-L

Bronson Arroyo

2005 (Red Sox): 4.51 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 14-10 W-L

2006 (Reds): 3.29 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 14-11 W-L

Ted Lilly

2006 (Blue Jays): 4.31 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 15-13 W-L

2007 (Cubs): 3.83 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 15-8 W-L

Johan Santana

2007 (Twins): 3.33 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 15-13 W-L

2008 (Mets): 2.53 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 16-7 W-L

C.C. Sabathia

2008 (Indians): 3.83 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 6-8 W-L

2008 (Brewers): 1.65 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 11-2 W-L

Cliff Lee

2009 (Indians): 3.14 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 7-9 W-L

2009 (Phillies): 3.39 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 7-4 W-L

Roy Halladay

2009 (Blue Jays): 2.79 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 17-10 W-L

2010 (Phillies): 2.28 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 11-8 W-L

Granted, Saunders does not possess the same portfolio as Halladay, Pedro, or Johan. Yet Arroyo and Lowe were relatively mediocre in the American League before discovering their dominance, and as stated above, Saunders has an All-Star invitation under his belt.

Theories surrounding this enhanced-performance include the loss of the DH spot, as well as the absence of powerhouses like the Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, and Angels. (In an unrelated note, I'd like to thank myself for being the first writer to mention "enhanced-performance" without referring to steroids or E.D. My parents must be proud). Whatever the case may be, the point is this: Saunders could prove to be a shrewd free-agent signing in fantasy. Saunders is owned in only 11% of leagues, so rushing to the waiver wire is unnecessary. But monitor Saunders' first few starts with a close eye. If the past proves true, Saunders will establish himself as a valuable and surreptitious addition to your roster.

Start 'em: Scott Podsednik, Royals. In his last ten games, Podsednik has hit .395 with 7 Rs and 8 RBI.

Sit 'em: Ichiro, Mariners. The Seattle hit-machine has struggled in July, batting just .220. While his average is still at .308 on the season, you have to wonder if his age (Ichiro turns 37 in October) is starting to creep up on the 2001 MVP.

Fantasy Flashback: 1896 Hughie Jennings. A .401 batting average to go along with a .472 OBP. Amassed over 125 runs and 70 stolen bases. Hit by a pitch a whooping 51 times. While these figures are indisputably impressive, its Jennings' RBI total that merits consideration. The man they called "Ee-yah" drove in 125 runs in 1896 without hitting a single home run. Basically, he was the anti-Adam Dunn.

Waiver Wire Watch: Jose Tabata, Pirates. The 21-year-old Tabata is batting .317 in July with 14 runs and 5 stolen bases. Tabata's owned in just 7% of leagues, so for those in need of an average boost, Tabata is your man.

Rookie Review: Travis Wood, Reds. Since his call-up on July 1, Wood has a 2.76 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in 32.2 innings. This included a performance against Philadelphia where Wood carried a perfect game into the 9th before surrendering a leadoff hit to Carlos Ruiz. Despite these spectacular stats, Wood has yet to record a win.

This Week in Jonathon Broxton: After sealing victory for the NL in the All-Star Game, it's been a rough couple weeks for Broxton. In his first two appearances after the break, Broxton was torched for 5 runs, resulting in two blown wins for LA. Worse, the Ox was involved in quite the predicament on July 20, when acting manager Don Mattingly accidentally revisited the pitcher's mound after an infield meeting, resulting in Broxton's immediate exit from the game. George Sherrill proceeded to yield three runs, all which were attributed to Big 51. No word yet if The Ox will allow Mattingly to stay on as coach for the rest of the season.

Trade Talk: Looking for a willing trading partner? Aim for teams ranked in the 3rd-6th spots in your league standings. As trade deadlines approach, these owners are more than likely to wheel-n-deal than division leaders (who are probably content with their rosters) or the bottom feeders (who have more than likely started to prepare for fantasy football).

Big League Chew Player of the Week: Luke Scott, Orioles. In his last eight games, Scott has hit 5 HRs to go along with 10 RBI and a .481 average, earning American League Player of the Week honors in the process. The only downside for Scott? He still plays for Baltimore.

Spit Your Tobacco At: Brandon Phillips, Reds. After calling himself, "the most complete 2nd baseman in baseball," Phillips has aptly gone 3-for-33 at the plate.

And finally, your "Dumb and Dumber" Quote of the Week:

Harry: According to the map we've only gone 4 inches.


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