A mere 48 hours ago, rumor spread that former Angels closer turned mop up reliever Jordan Walden was on the trading block following the signing of Ryan Madson. Enter Frank Wren, the Atlanta Braves and 26 year old Tommy Hanson.
Instead of targeting a middling starter on the free agent market like Shaun Marcum or Ryan Dempster, Jerry Dipoto instead traded from his new found bullpen depth. And with Fujikawa rumors tagging the Angels as front runners for the dominant far east relievers services, that depth might not be taking that much of a hit. JeDi indeed.But don’t get too giddy right away. Hanson’s strikeout rate has been solid since his big league debut, and it remains above average. Everything else is trending the wrong way. Walks, hits, WAR, everything. His average fastball velocity has dropped from 92.7 MPH in 2010 to 89.7 MPH in 2012. All pointing to lingering shoulder issues as well as back issues this past year. Damaged goods? Maybe. But the Angels had to see his medical report before the trade, and with Dr. Lewis Yocum being the team physician, I’m going to believe that he gave this a thumbs up before the trigger was pulled.
Luckily for us, even with possible health issues, we aren’t getting Tommy so he can be our Ace, or even our number two starter. The current depth chart most likely has him slotted in the three spot. At worst, he’s a league average number three starter, and with the recent bullpen moves the Angels should be very capable of shortening games. This would make it less necessary for Hanson to be required to pitch past the sixth inning.
Another thing to consider is the money that will be involved. Most of the middle of the road starters are probably going to command anywhere from $7-$10 million per year. Most reports have the first time arbitration eligible Hanson in line for roughly $4 million in 2013. Money saved. Being frugal at the back end of the rotation is leaving Dipoto with the kind of wiggle room that still allows him to be a serious player for Zack Greinke (sorry, not buying the report that the Angels are out on Greinke). If the Angels do land Zack, our rotation would stack up like this:
If we don’t land Zack, it looks like this:
Lost in this acquisition is that it allows the Angels to send Nick Maronde back to the minors to continue his progression towards the big leagues as a starter. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to our depth chart to have Maronde remain a starting pitcher. To put it bluntly, our minor league pitching depth is razor thin.
We still need another starter though, whether it’s Greinke or not. Personally, I don’t think Richards is mentally ready. He needs another half to full year in the minors, preferably in AA where the high altitude of Salt Lake City won’t mess with his pitches, and possibly negate any progress that he makes.
This is a good move, a smart move, a money saving move. The best part is that only cost us a power arm that was having trouble with throwing strikes. And 170 innings from a league average starter is more valuable to me than 60 innings from a 7th inning reliever. But we’re not done yet. Next week is the winter meetings, and I would be shocked if the Angels stayed quiet while they were in Nashville. Keep up the good work Jerry, keep it up.