Thursday, August 30, 2007


In an effort to present some good news for Red Sox fans here at FPE, I thought I'd take a moment and mention Craig Hansen. You may remember Craig Hansen. He was the college closer that the Red Sox drafted in the first round two years ago. He threw 12.1 innings in the minors before begin brought up to the big club. He was on the fast track to success and everyone expected that he'd be the closer in Boston for the next ten years. Uh, no.

Hansen got to Boston and was terrible, but only in six innings. Next year he started the year in Boston and wasn't any better. In 38 innings, he gave up 46 hits and 32 (!) runs while striking out 30 and walking 15. If you do the math, here... add the two... divide by seven... that comes out to... "bad pitching."

So the Sox sent Hansen back to AAA where he continued to pitch badly. In 36 innings he struck out 26 and walked 19. His control had deserted him and he couldn't strike anyone out. All of a sudden, if you heard Hansen's name it was in trade proposals as opposed to 'closer of the future' or 'prospect' discussions.

Still, to their credit, the Red Sox didn't give up. They worked with Hansen on his delivery and found a flaw which was causing his slider to even out. A good slider (from a right hander) will basically go from about 2 o'clock to 7 o'clock through the strike zone. Hansen's slider was going from about 2:30 to 9 o'clock. In other words, it was flat. You want a hitter to swing over the top of your slider, but if it doesn't dip that won't happen.

Anyway, Hansen struggled through the first three months of the season, as he worked to correct the flaw. He posted identical 7.20 ERAs in April and June. His ERA was better in May (2.89), but it was deceiving as he walked four and struck out only three in nine innings of work. Plainly put, Hansen wasn't pitching well. He fell off the prospect radar.

Well, don't look now, but it looks like Hansen may be back. In his last 16.2 innings pitched (admittedly a somewhat small sample size) he has given up only one run for an ERA of 0.54. But, as above that can be deceiving. A pitcher has control over three basic factors: strikeouts, walks, and homers allowed. So how has Hansen done in those three crucial categories? Over that 16.2 innings, Hansen has struck out 23 batters while only walking one and giving up (wait for it... wait for it...) zero homers! Yay!

Don't be surprised if the Sox bring him up for a September call up. If his slider is back to what it was in college and his first minor league stint, Hansen could be a strong asset for an already strong Red Sox bullpen.

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