Twins (Maybe/Sort Of/Possibly) Interested In Harang?

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

There have been conflicted reports on the Twins' interest in Aaron Harang, who's going to find himself with a new team in the next few days after being designated for assignment.

A lot has been made of the surplus of starting pitchers the Dodgers carried into the season. Chris Capuano, Ted Lilly and Aaron Harang all have made at least 189 career starts. Each of them has a career ERA of 4.28 or better, and each finished last season with an ERA under 3.75 (Lilly only threw 41 innings, so that's a bit of a stretch on my part). And yet, each of the three was destined for the bullpen by the time Spring Training ended. None of them were too pleased -- especially not Capuano and Harang.

The Dodgers took the first step toward unloading some of the surplus when they flipped Harang (plus cash) to the Rockies for Ramon Hernandez over the weekend. The Rockies, in a baffling move (to me at least), decided they preferred to stick with the five starters they had and immediately designate Harang for assignment. The Rockies made the move purely for financial reasons and had no interest in Harang, despite having fielded the worst pitching staff in baseball last offseason and adding only Jon Garland to the group this year.

It's not that Harang's a great pitcher. He's not. But he'd be an improvement for the Rockies. And in that same vein, he'd probably be an improvement for the Twins.

Darren Wolfson asked a Twins official if they were interested in Harang, and he was told they were not. Ken Rosenthal from FOX Sports received some different information, however, as he was told the Twins, Astros and Red Sox are all intrigued by Harang.

Both of these guys are rock solid sources of information, but it stands to reason that they also both have different contacts. Doogie spoke directly to a Twins official, whereas we don't know who Rosenthal talked to. Whatever the case -- here's a rundown of what Harang's all about.

Harang's an 11-year veteran that has pitched for the Athletics, Reds, Padres and Dodgers. For a brief time, from 2005-07, Harang was a damn good pitcher too. He topped 200 innings with a sub-4.00 ERA in each of those seasons, and even topped 200 strikeouts in 2006 and 2007.

Harang's command deteriorated in 2008 and he started missing fewer bats, despite not losing much in the way of velocity (he's never thrown much harder than 89-92 mph). There are some who think he's a victim of Dusty Baker, as it was Baker who plugged Harang into an extra-inning game and had him throw four innings of relief on two days' rest. There could be some validity to the argument, as Harang posted a 5.88 ERA from that point on after posting a 3.32 ERA through the season's first two months.

At this point, Harang is a guy who strikes out between six and seven hitters per nine innings and throws in the 89-91 mph range. He's a fly-ball pitcher (which probably contributed to Colorado's disinterest -- maybe they learned their lesson from Jeremy Guthrie). That would play well in Target Field but play poorly with the Twins' outfield defense.

Since getting out of a hitters' haven -- Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati -- Harang has a 3.62 ERA (4.15 FIP, 4.59 xFIP) in 350 innings for the Dodgers and Padres. He's held right-handed batters in check very well (.242/.305/.392 batting line; .304 wOBA). Lefties have been tougher on Harang (.264/.356/.418; .337 wOBA), but once again Target Field would help in that regard.

The Twins are counting on Mike Pelfrey, Kevin Correia, Vance Worley and Scott Diamond to be locks in the rotation this season, with Kyle Gibson waiting in the wings. Liam Hendriks, Pedro Hernandez, Cole DeVries and Sam Deduno are all in the fold as well. I'd understand if they didn't want to give away Gibson's eventual spot to Harang, whose theoretical future of the team likely wouldn't extend beyond this year.

But let's be honest -- Diamond is coming off elbow surgery, as is Worley. Correia has only topped 171 innings once, and Pelfrey's still not even a year removed from his Tommy John surgery. Adding Harang as depth doesn't strike me as a move that would hurt the Twins, and it could save we fans from another summer of watching the Red Wings' rotation try to get Major League hitters out.

Harang's skill-set isn't sexy, but it plays well for the Twins' home park and he's a guy who's had success in the past. If they wanted to bring him into the fold, he could likely be had for cash or a warm body/nothing prospect.

What say you, denizens of Twins Territory?

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