In another time, the Sox acquiring Joel Hanrahan might be a reason to hope for an improved season in the upcoming year. If they had traded for him following the 2011 season when Jonathan Papelbon left for Philadelphia, it might have helped the Red Sox in 2012. Heck, they might have won 72 or 73 games, even. If they had dealt for him instead of sending Josh Reddick to the Oakland Athletics for Andrew Bailey, and if Reddick had the same breakout season for the Sox that he did for the As, perhaps the Red Sox might have still been in contention at the end of August.
However, acquiring him now, for a team that will struggle to win 75 games? It doesn’t make sense, and not for the reason that everyone else seems so concerned about, his alleged loss of control. “Experts” point to his 5.4 BB/9 in 2012 and assume he has lost something. If they had looked a little more closely at his career numbers, they would have seen that was just about par for the course.
In fact, his breakout 2011 season is an aberration from his career norms in terms of his ‘control’. It is the only time in his career that he has walked less than 3.4 batters per 9 IP. It was also only the second time in his career that he less than a 4.5 BB/9 (3.4 BB/9 in 2010.) If you remove his 2011 season, Hanrahan has a career BB/9 rate of 4.82, so it’s clear that whatever success he does or does not have has nothing to do with his ability to not hand out free passes. His walk rate is not the reason this is a bad deal for the Sox.
In fact, nothing that Hanrahan will or won’t do in the coming season has anything to do with whether or not this deal is a good one for the Red Sox. Time and again, it’s been proven that for the most part ‘closers’ are a crapshoot. They’re also inveterate head cases.
It’s not even a bad deal because of who they sent out in the deal. Of the four players sent out, Stolmy Pimentel appears to have the most upside. Jerry Sands would have been a reminder of the Sox 2012 season, no matter what he accomplished, and ditto for Mark Melancon.
It’s also not a bad deal because of any potential drama between Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey, as John Farrell wisely announced that Hanrahan is his guy. It was an easy call for Farrell to make, given Bailey’s performance in 2012. Then again, by the time Bailey finally had a chance to pitch, the Red Sox franchise strongly resembled the Titanic as her 5th compartment began to fill with water.
No, it’s not a good deal for the Sox (or Hanrahan, really) because of how they’ve managed the rest of their off-season so far. All they’ve done prior to this is bring in average MLBers and hand them contracts that would make the average pink-hatter think they are superstars. Every other move this off-season has been predicated on keeping their precious sellout streak intact, because if the pink-hat fans knew what the real game plan was (rebuilding for the future 2-3 years down the road), they might stop coming out to the games, and then Fenway Park loses it’s ‘cool’ factor, and there’s no guarantee that it’ll ever come back.
Hanrahan going to a team that was on its way up would have been better for him, and better for the Sox. Assuming Bailey is healthy this year, the Red Sox could have used the front part of the season to showcase his talent, and dealt him at the deadline for a couple of prospects, at least. It also would have allowed them to see if they could develop Daniel Bard in to a closer, or if he was destined for mop up duty for the rest of his career. That would have been the smart play, because no matter what the Sox do right now, they’re not winning in 2013. Upper management knows this, but they continue to put up a facade of ‘rebuilding while contending’. That’ll work right up until the time that the games begin, and then that plan goes out the window.
Hanrahan told the AP that he “got excited” about pitching for the Red Sox, saying that “Obviously, the Red Sox have a great history and tradition and it’s a huge sports city”. While I agree with Hanrahan’s take on the history of the Sox, and Boston being a great sports city, I don’t know if I’d be as excited as he purports to be. Then again, he’s coming from Pittsburgh, so he should be used to losing by now.
Is there any hope for the Red Sox in 2013?
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