Joe Saunders Still Winless, But Just Part Of Big Trade

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 13: Pitcher Joe Saunders #34 of the Arizona Diamondbacks walks off the mound after being relieved in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 13, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

So, Joe Saunders?

He hasn't worked out so well.

Last July, the Diamondbacks weren't going anywhere fast and didn't figure that Dan Haren would still be around when they were ready to compete for something better than third place. Meanwhile, they still owed Haren nearly $30 million from 2011 through '13.

Oh, and the farm system looked mostly barren; the previous winter, Baseball America had ranked Arizona's talent 28th among the 30 organizations.

So it made paramount sense for the Diamondbacks to trade Haren to the Orange County Angels last summer, thus shedding a significant financial commitment and adding young talent to the organization.

Well, some young talent. At the time of the deal, Joe Saunders was 29 years old. In 2008, he'd won 17 games and pitched in the All-Star Game, but since then he'd posted a 4.61 ERA with the Angels and his skills seemed in decline.

After coming over from the Angels, Saunders did pitch better in his 13 starts with the Diamondbacks. This season, though? Not so much. Saunders has started eight games this spring, and tonight he'll still be looking for his first victory. Worse, he's got a 5.48 ERA and he's earned it, with nearly as many walks as strikeouts and seven home runs allowed in 46 innings.

If the Diamondbacks were counting on Joe Saunders to make the trade look good ... Well, again: not so much.

Fortunately, Haren and Saunders weren't the only pitchers in the trade. Arizona also acquired a pair of exceptionally young left-handers: 19-year-old Tyler Skaggs and 20-year-old Pat Corbin, both of whom immediately became among the Diamondbacks' top pitching prospects.

The wait for them, though ... O, the Wait.

Skaggs is dominating this season, with 59 strikeouts in 45 innings ... but he's dominating the Class A California League, and -- assuming no emotional or physical roadblocks -- doesn't figure to join the big club's rotation until 2013 at the earliest.

Corbin's a year ahead of Skaggs in both age and development, having dominated the California League last summer after the trade. Now he's pitching for Double-A Mobile and pitching reasonably well, and might arrive in 2012 ... or he might not. As we've seen so many times, there are many pitfalls in the path of the young starting pitcher.

It would be really nice if Joe Saunders could, you know, actually win a game at some point. But if you want to know how the Diamondbacks fared in the Dan Haren trade, keep an eye on the kids. They are, after all, our future.

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