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Angels get Tommy Hanson from Braves for Jordan Walden

Nov 30, 2012, 1:04 PM EDT

tommy hanson getty Getty Images

Tommy Hanson once looked likely to be atop Atlanta’s rotation for a long time, but after the right-hander struggled for the past season-and-a-half the Braves have traded him to the Angels.

Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports that the Braves will get 25-year-old reliever Jordan Walden in return, which makes it a swap of two young pitchers whose stock has declined dramatically in the last year.

Through his first three seasons Hanson tossed 460 innings with a 3.28 ERA, but this year his ERA rose to 4.48 and his average fastball velocity fell from 92 miles per hour to 89.7 mph. Hanson has struggled with back and shoulder problems since the middle of last season, but even with the declining velocity he managed 161 strikeouts in 175 innings.

Walden went from saving 32 games as a rookie closer in 2011 to quickly losing the job and being relegated mostly to low-leverage outings this year, although he still finished with a nice 3.46 ERA and 48/18 K/BB ratio in 39 innings.

After signing Ryan Madson the Angels clearly felt Walden was expandable and they certainly need plenty of rotation help after trading Ervin Santana and potentially losing both Dan Haren and Zack Greinke to free agency. A healthy Hanson is a 26-year-old top-of-the-rotation starter under team control through 2015 and that would have huge value, but he comes with some big question marks attached and in the meantime the Braves’ scary good bullpen gets even scarier with Walden and his-90s heat.

  1. iamjimmyjack - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    Wow go angels! Great job Jerry!

    • jarathen - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:10 PM

      Definitely an upgrade for the Angels, who only have two Major League starters before this. Sure, Richards and Williams could start, but they’re not AL West-winning rotation guys yet, though I’m holding out hope that Richards will get some more heavy on that fastball.

  2. yanks33 - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    I think the Braves screwed themselves on this deal

    • Chip Caray's Eyebrows - Nov 30, 2012 at 2:52 PM

      I’m curious to hear the logic behind this statement.

      Personally, I think it’s a good trade for the Braves. Not so much because of what it brings in return — even though it does strengthen an already formidable bullpen — but because this trade, combined with the expected non-tendering of Jair Jurrjens, frees up the cash to pursue some of the better left field options available on the free agent market. And they don’t really lose anything in the rotation, in my opinion, because there are better options waiting in the wings. They had a surplus of starting pitching, so they made a move that will ultimately allow them to address the holes they have elsewhere on the roster. Doesn’t sound too bad to me.

    • thebadguyswon - Nov 30, 2012 at 4:28 PM

      Yeah I don’t get it. Makes you wonder what the Braves know about Hanson.

  3. uwsptke - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    Wow. I didn’t think that Walden hald that kind of value. Although as teams have learned in the past, it’s always “buyer beware” when dealing with the Braves.

    • jkaflagg - Nov 30, 2012 at 5:30 PM

      Agree…..the Angels ignored a simple rule that most baseball people follow closely, “NEVER trade for a pitcher from the Braves”……Braves must have pretty big questions about Hansen to trade him for a hard throwing but erratic reliever with an injury history….but given the Angels holes in the rotation plus the fact they have no starting pitchers in the farm system, they probably felt like they had to take a chance.

  4. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    I think the Braves could have done better, unless they know more than we do about Hanson’s shoulder.

    • natslady - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:19 PM

      Is the deal final, or “pending” a physical? A couple of those have fallen through already.

  5. xmatt0926x - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    I always thought Hanson was overrated. He could have a great game going but would always seem to be at 110 pitches after 5 innings.

    • alang3131982 - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:45 PM

      110 pitches after 5 innings is better than 20 pitches after 1 inning

      • joshtown81 - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:54 PM

        Actually, 20 pitches after 1 inning would equal 100 pitches over 5, which is still better than Hanson’s :)

      • alang3131982 - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:57 PM

        I meant all Walden is going to do is 20 pitches over 1 inning — he’s not throwing 5 innings at a clip…i’d also argue that 110 pitches in a start spread over innings is a lot different than 20 pitches in just one inning of work…

      • mrwillie - Nov 30, 2012 at 2:00 PM

        How exactly does one get to 110 in 5 innings without going well over 20 per inning anyways?

    • thereisaparty - Nov 30, 2012 at 2:55 PM

      Hanson’s innings per start have been right around NL average until this past season. No real surprise considering 2012 was his worst year by pretty much every measure.

  6. thegurubrave - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    From: Frank
    What have I done……

  7. biasedhomer - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    Braves are having a horrible offseason,

    Outbid themselves for BJ Upton, who is a downgrade from Bourn.

    Now trade an underachieving SP for an underachieving RP.

    • StottsEra - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:35 PM

      right but bourn would cost more anyways. what do you expect them to do
      and the underachieving RP is 4 million cheaper

      • biasedhomer - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:39 PM

        That RP is also going to throw only about 50 innings (since they are already set at the 8th and 9th inning roles).

        While that SP will potentially throw 4 times the amount of innings.

      • Chip Caray's Eyebrows - Nov 30, 2012 at 2:55 PM

        The money is the only thing that matters in a deal like this. The number of innings Walden throws compared to Hanson is totally irrelevant because there are other pitchers on the roster who will take on those innings. The only thing that matters is getting someone to take Hanson’s salary off your hands so you can spend that money elsewhere.

    • illegalblues - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:50 PM

      am i the only one that actually watched hanson last year? the dude looks done. the shoulder is not healthy. he had no command and no stuff. he can’t live on just a slider.

      • paperlions - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:54 PM

        ^^This^^

        His shoulder is screwed up…putting off surgery hasn’t been the answer…and in most cases, all it does is delay the inevitable while getting poor production. It he Braves got a healthy pitcher for a busted one….that’s a great deal for them.

      • mrwillie - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:58 PM

        Thank you. Watched him all year as well and it just went from bad to worse. He’s struggling with injury and with that unorthodox delivery he’s got it’s just going to continue to worse before it gets better. I wish him the best, but I can’t see him being better than a 5th starter at best.

        Braves shored up an already nasty bullpen and I’m guessing will move Delgado up full time which who is equal to Hanson and this point with much more upside.

      • bobulated - Nov 30, 2012 at 2:31 PM

        Agree. His throwing motion is simply too stressful on his shoulder and it seems his best days might be behind him. He throws way too many pitches and has not looked like the power pitcher that came up through the system in over two years. The Braves have a couple of young starters MLB ready and while they might be trading Hanson a year or two early I’m sure they don’t want to repeat the Jurrjens mistake of holding on a year too long and getting nothing after a non-tender.

    • dgrowe213 - Nov 30, 2012 at 7:44 PM

      Upton costs less money than Bourn. Bourn struggled late in the season.

      As far as the Hanson trade goes it’s a way to free up some money. Obviously
      Walden was ALL they could get for Hanson, or Wren would’ve gotten more. Braves
      are stacked at SP. Minor, Delgado, Teheran (however you spell it), Hudson, Maholm, Beachy, and
      Medlin

      I like the move.. i made it a point NOT to buy Braves tickets on Hanson’s scheduled starts.
      However, I’m glad they got him as far away from the NL east as possible. Hate to face that guy
      with the Braves bipolar offense.

  8. lyon810 - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    As an Angels fan I love this, but as mentioned above, he is very inefficient. For some reason, I see a Tommy John in his future.

    • mordecofe - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:59 PM

      actually hanson’s problem is with his shoulder not elbow. tommy john is elbow. shoulder is much harder to fix – see michael pineda, etc.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 30, 2012 at 2:27 PM

      It’s worse than that. It is always a shoulder/back thing with Hanson. TJ has a recovery timetable, while these other injuries do not.

  9. brent05cards - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    Frank Wren should be fired on making such a stupid trade!

    • dgrowe213 - Nov 30, 2012 at 7:46 PM

      pssssh… wren wins 90% of the time in trades. Look at the Bourn trade..

  10. joshtown81 - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    You guys are missing the big picture I think. This wasn’t so much about the arm we got in return, it was a salary dump for the braves, which gives them another 4 million to spend on the outfield. As a Braves fan, I’ve seen Tommy flame out nearly every game because of his pitch counts. Losing Hanson allows us to go after Victorino or someone with more authority.

    • thereisaparty - Nov 30, 2012 at 2:58 PM

      Hanson hovered around NL average for innings per start from 09-11.

  11. chc4 - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    Hanson’s shoulder is shot. He rarely hits 90 on the radar gun anymore and has a partially torn rotator cuff that apparently didn’t require surgery. He gives up alot of taters. Hanson was at best the Braves 5th starter heading into next year so this moves makes great sense. Especially considering he’s now arb elgible which means expensive. Anyone beating up Frank Wren for this move either doesn’t follow the Braves at all or was in a coma the last 18 months.

  12. nelszz - Nov 30, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    As a braves fan, I’m perfectly alright with this. Hanson is toast. He just can’t get it done anymore. Plus, they have Delgado and Teheran there to jump in. I don’t care how many pitches Walden throws, as long as he gets outs then I’m happy. Saving money to spend on a LF makes it even better.

    • mrwillie - Nov 30, 2012 at 2:16 PM

      I’m with you. They didn’t move Jurrgens when they had the chance and he looks like he’s a few minutes from being non-tendered. They’re not going to let that happen again. Hanson’s fastball has dropped below 90 these days which is not a good sign for a 26 year old who was hitting mid 90′s very recently. That’s an alarming drop.

      There was no future with him, and the extra payroll could come in quite useful.

  13. bravojawja - Nov 30, 2012 at 2:08 PM

    Shades of Kevin Millwood for Johnny Estrada, but $7M less.

    The Braves’ payroll must be really, really tight for Wren to pull this deal. That, and Hanson looked terrible this year plus all the good young arms (plus Hudson and Maholm) made Hanson expendable anyway. I would have thought the Braves could have done better.

  14. planck16 - Nov 30, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    These comments are crazy.

    The Braves have plenty of starting pitching with Hudson, Medlen, Minor, Beachy, Maholm, Teheran, and DelGado. What they don’t have is a left fielder, and that $4 million they just saved with the trade will go to that. Another solid arm in the bullpen (which we know the Braves overuse at times) and money to go get Justin Upton in a trade or Nick Swisher/Cody Ross through free agency.

    • dgrowe213 - Nov 30, 2012 at 7:50 PM

      They want Justin Upton but the Rays want Andrelton Simmons.
      Wren would be an idiot to consider that considering there’s a gaping hole at 3rd
      and a washed up muscle-head at 2B

      • A.J. - Nov 30, 2012 at 11:25 PM

        If the Braves get Upton there isn’t any hole at 3b. The whole point of getting a LF is that last year’s LF Prado moves to 3b.

        But the hole at SS would mean Paul Janish All Day, which wouldn’t be especially fun.

  15. frankyvito - Nov 30, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    I love when ppl say ‘such & such proven GM could’ve gotten more.’ As if Frank Wren was like ‘I know I’m being offered Felix Hernandez, but I’d rather accept a lesser player.’ No, this was the best player offered. Tommy Hanson sucks now. Braves fans know it. GM’s know it. Stop thinking FW can just trick GM’s into a bad trade. Blame Scheurholtz. Now FW will never be able to get over on teams.

    • dgrowe213 - Nov 30, 2012 at 7:51 PM

      he got over on the astros hard.

  16. gpatrick15 - Nov 30, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    So, when all healthy starters are active, that leaves a rotation of Beachy, Medlen, Maholm, Minor, and Hudson? Not bad, but I always liked Tommy Hanson while he was here in Atlanta. I guess Tehran or Delgado fill in until Beachy returns. Hope this trade works out. On the surface, I don’t see how the Braves benefit, especially if they waste the 4 million savings on someone who isn’t a fit.

    • gpatrick15 - Nov 30, 2012 at 2:30 PM

      With all that being said, he won’t be missed on the field. Tehran or Delgado can put up similar production for a much lower cost. The more I think about it, the more I warm up to it being a suitable trade. Though I think they could have gotten more for him, but like a poster said above that’s probably the best offer they got. And after holding on to Jurrjens instead of trading them, they’re trying not to suffer a similar fate.

  17. brewcrewfan54 - Nov 30, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    Sounds a lot like Scott Kasmir. Once the velocity starts dropping usually the results start getting worse.

  18. mcjon22 - Nov 30, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    So instead of trading this guy for, gee, I don’t know, a left fielder or a lead off hitter? They trade for a position that arguably is the deepest on the team? As a Braves fan, this seems like such a terrible decision

    • chc4 - Nov 30, 2012 at 2:53 PM

      Hanson had NO value which is why we got another pitcher that had fallen out of favor. Geez some people are so dense. So you’re wondering why the Braves didn’t trade Hanson for Ellsbury?? My gosh.

    • Chip Caray's Eyebrows - Nov 30, 2012 at 2:59 PM

      Don’t you think the money saved by dumping Hanson’s salary could be spent on a LF? Do you really think the main objective of this trade was to land Jordan Walden?

  19. yahmule - Nov 30, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    Everybody seems certain that Hanson is done, but he’s only 26 years old and his makeup is solid. He wasn’t that bad in the first half last season. I think it’s a good gamble by the Halos if he can get healthy. I think his biggest weakness is that he does such a poor job of holding runners on base.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 30, 2012 at 3:39 PM

      Everybody seems certain that Hanson is done, but he’s only 26 years old and his makeup is solid.

      Pitchers peak a lot earlier than position players do. Also, these stats aren’t encouraging:

      (last three years ’10, ’11, ’12)
      K% – 20.5, 26.3, 21.2
      BB% – 6.6, 8.5, 9.3
      fball velocity – 92.7, 91.2, 89.7

      throw in the known shoulder issues, which mentioned above are far worse than elbow troubles, and I’d be concerned.

  20. threeskis - Nov 30, 2012 at 3:39 PM

    Hanson has flawed mechanics. Anytime your elbow is below your throwing shoulder in your motion you are destined for arm trouble. Strasburg’s motion is similar as was Mark Prior’s….We all know what happened to Prior and Strasburg’s already had Tommy John. Time will tell….

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 30, 2012 at 3:41 PM

      There is so much more than location of elbow in relation to shoulder in a pitcher’s throwing motion that makes that comparison absurd.

      • threeskis - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:08 PM

        From SI.com

        The answer to why Strasburg blew out — and why his future is a risky one — may lie in his mechanics. Several pitching coaches quietly predicted Strasburg was at risk before he broke down. He will continue to bear risky loads on his elbow and shoulder unless he changes the way he throws.

        To understand the danger of the glitch, first you must understand the most critical point of a pitcher’s delivery. The pitching motion is a kinetic chain of events, carefully calibrated and timed, like a Formula One car’s engine, for maximum efficiency. But above all others one link of the chain is most important: the “late cocking phase,” or the phase during which the shoulder reaches its maximum external rotation with the baseball raised in the “loaded” position (typically, above the shoulder) and ready to come forward.

        “The late cocking phase appears to be the critical point in the pitching motion,” according to a conclusion from a study by Dr. Brandon Bushnell of Rome, Ga., and colleagues and published last year in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, “where higher levels of torque at the shoulder and elbow can result in increased risk of injury. Manipulation of pitching mechanics to alter these torque levels or using these measures to identify pitchers at risk may help decrease injury rates.”

        Here is the key to managing the torque levels in the late cocking phase: timing. The ball should be loaded in the late cocking phase precisely when the pitcher’s stride foot lands on the ground.

        “If he’s too early or too late he winds up with more force on the shoulder and elbow,” said Glenn Fleisig, Ph.D., research director for the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Ala. “The energy gets passed to the arm before it was ready, or after.”

        Without the energy from the rest of the body, the shoulder and elbow must bear higher levels of torque in what in even optimum circumstances is a maneuver that taxes the physical limits of what an arm can bear.

        How important is this specific timing? I spoke with a key decision maker for one club last week who, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said his club will not consider any pitcher — by draft, trade or free agency — who does not have the baseball in the loaded position at the time of foot strike.

        It is during this critical moment of the throwing motion when Strasburg fails. Most pitchers, after taking the ball out of their glove, swing the ball down and away from the body and then raise it in a way in which the throwing hand raises and then the elbow and shoulder follow. Think about the way you would draw back a whip before cracking it.

        However, once Strasburg takes the ball out of the glove, down and away from his body, his right elbow, not his right hand, literally takes the leading role. Like re-writing a script, the roles in the kinetic chain are switched. Now it is the elbow that raises higher than the shoulder and the hand.

        There is one moment in this sequence when both of Strasburg’s elbows are higher than his shoulders, as if he were locked in medieval village stocks. Many people have frozen that moment of his delivery and assigned it as the point of risk. That’s not entirely true.

        The problem is the timing associated with that move, not the move itself. When Strasburg gets his elbows above his shoulders and the baseball is below or about even with his right shoulder, his stride foot is hitting the ground. The ball should be in the loaded position at that point, but because Strasburg uses the funky “high elbow” raise, he still has to rotate his arm above his shoulder to get it there. The energy from landing on his stride foot has passed too early to the shoulder and elbow — before the joints are ready to use it.

        “It’s not a case of too much armpit angle,” Fleisig said, referring to the moment when the elbows are raised. “It’s that the arm hasn’t rotated yet.”

        Fleisig spoke in general about the glitch some pitchers have with the raised elbow, not Strasburg in particular. When I asked him if this glitch puts pitchers at greater risk of injury, he said, “Totally. It is risky and dangerous. That’s a red flag. Definitely.”

        Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/tom_verducci/03/08/stephen.strasburg.mechanics/index.html#ixzz2DkZg7Q8Q

  21. spudchukar - Nov 30, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    Besides unloading an ailing Hansen the Braves may be considering moving O’Flaherty in an upcoming deal and wanted to shore up the pen.

  22. foreverchipper10 - Nov 30, 2012 at 4:42 PM

    He has a damn fine beard though. You can’t knock him for that.

  23. inglebk - Nov 30, 2012 at 10:41 PM

    I am a hardcore Braves fans and I promise this deal was no more than to get rid of $4 million. People bashing Braves for trading for Walden should realize that we have been dying to get rid of him. Teheran the #1 pitching prospect in the minors is going to fill Hansons spot. And we need no help in the bullpen. I wish the best for you guys with Hanson but I was so frustrated every time he pitched. 174 innings for 31 games= 5.6 innings a game. So I am deeply sorry for your bullpen. And he continues to drop in velocity and effectiveness. Hurt shoulder. Sorry guys.

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