Friday, November 30, 2012
Angels Trade Jordan Walden For Tommy Hanson
The question, then, is exactly how much better Tommy Hanson makes them. He makes them at least a little better, because he’s a fifth starting pitcher on the roster. Previously there was no one in that slot. But there’s a reason the Braves didn’t have Hanson in their projected rotation, and there’s a reason the Braves gave him up for a reliever, even though he’s under team control another three years. The Tommy Hanson that exists now is similar in many ways to the Tommy Hanson that used to exist before, but when it comes to pitching, there are alarming differences.For my money, and given the Angels' dire situation with the bullpen early in the 2012 season, sending Jordan away is no small matter. I don't like recent acquisition Ryan Madson's inability to stay healthy. Madson had Tommy John surgery this year, so he's going to be back at some point in the 2013 season, though just when that might happen is still an open question. Even though my rule of thumb for UCL repairs is 18 months, that number is now down to a year, but we'll see how it goes. Even then, there's no guarantees, and while I didn't like Jordan's lack of movement — he could throw hard but not fool anybody — it seems we are deeply into "devil you don't know" territory here.
I'm okay with getting rid of Ervin Santana — the Brandon Sisk deal was exactly the sort of thing you can do, though it was risky exercising his option and then trading him. On the other hand, Santana showed an elbow ligament tear on an offseason, post-trade MRI, so this could easily have been the beginning of his own Tommy John surgery and perhaps a shot at redemption. But that won't be in the Angels rotation. Likewise, I'm fine with the prospect of Haren going away, and Greinke (though the jury is still out on whether that happens, the Dodgers are apparently the lead team there). For this to work, we have to believe that Hanson is at least going to fill out the fifth starter role effectively, and I'm not entirely sold on that.
In any case, Madson can probably deliver a performance that at least equals the best one might have expected from Walden. Meanwhile, Hanson fills a true need (i.e., someone to take the mound to start every 5th day). Even if he does exactly what he did last year, that's the equivalent of the 2012 Dan Haren, for $10 million less.
I'm also comfortable with the idea of the Angels trading their #5 (at best) 45-inning reliever for a 175-inning starter this year, rather than see the team get embroiled in a 5- or 6-year deal for the likes of the underwhelming Anibal Sanchez, Edwin Jackson or Kyle Lohse, or rely exclusively on rolling the dice with reclamation projects like Shawn Marcum.