By Wednesday, Jon Daniels has to make a big decision in regards to recycled pitcher Tommy Hanson and the decision is a difficult one. After the wild ride the Rangers have been on this spring training, would you expect anything to come easy?
Texas can cut ties with the former Braves phenom by Wednesday and it will cost them a mere $125,000. If he sticks beyond that, his $500,000 salary becomes guaranteed this year. In addition, if he makes the Major League roster, he will get a cool $1.5 million dollar bonus. That’s not chump change.
The problem is, Hanson has pitched more like a chump than a champ this spring. So far he sports an 0-2 record with an ERA of 6.45. In fourteen innings of work, he’s surrendered ten earned runs, two home runs and issued five walks. His last start, on Saturday against the Royals, was rough. He was touched for seven runs in 5.2 innings and took the loss.
The numbers would seem to make the decision easy, but it’s not. Hanson hasn’t been horrible, he’s just struggled at times. Most of the damage on Saturday came in the second inning. At other times, Hanson has proven to be effective. In the spring, with a small sample size, it doesn’t take much to blow up your ERA.
In considering if Hanson is worth the risk, a number of factors have to be considered. On the positive side, he brings experience. Hanson for his career is 49-35 with an ERA under four. In his first three seasons, hitters only managed to hit .228 against him and he won 32 games in those three years. He brings with him the knowledge and experience gathered from his time in Atlanta, where they know a thing or two about developing pitchers. With the Texas staff shaping up to be a young one, a guy with some experience could come in handy. Hanson could provide a steadying influence on the staff.
Then there is the negative. His last two Major League seasons have been far less impressive. In both years, Hanson surrendered more hits than innings pitched and opponents hit .288 against him. In 2012, he gave up a whopping 27 home runs. Injuries certainly played a part in that decline. Last season, Hanson only managed to throw 73 innings for the Angels. In fact, only once in Hanson’s career has he thrown over 200 innings. Considering his inconsistency this spring, there is reasonable doubt as to whether Hanson will ever be an effective Major League starter again.
So, is Hanson worth the investment? I say no. It is true that the Rangers don’t need Hanson to give them 200 innings, only to give them quality starts every fifth game. If the Ranger farm system was devoid of good arms, I would say to give him the ball and run with it, even if he was only mediocre. But the Rangers aren’t devoid of good arms. Tanner Scheppers and Robbie Ross look like stars in the making. Derek Holland should be ready by mid-season and Matt Harrison will hopefully be back soon and with some luck, could return to his pre-injury effectiveness. Then there is Colby Lewis, still working hard and seeming to improve every time he takes the ball.
The Rangers have options, many options. It is unlikely that Hanson secures a spot in the rotation, and if he doesn’t, the Rangers should let him walk. There is simply no reason to pay a guy $2 million to be a long reliever. The waiver wire will soon be full of guys who could fill that role much cheaper and there are young arms on the farm that could use that role to ease their way into Major League service.
The qualifier to that, though, are the injuries that continue to haunt the team. Having Hanson on the roster, even if he starts the season in the bullpen, could be considered an insurance policy. At $2 million, that’s an expensive insurance policy, and one not likely to pay a dividend worth the investment. I don’t think it’s worth the price, what do you think, Ranger fans?