When the Pittsburgh Pirates traded Joel Hanrahan to the Boston Red Sox many people looked at the deal as just another Pirates move, trading away their talented players in an effort to cut payroll. However, the Pirates have the pieces to absorb a missing Hanrahan with Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon and can use the $7 million Hanrahan was due in other places, like signing Francisco Liriano.
Grili was lights out last season, posting a 2.91 ERA and striking out 90 in 58.2 innings. He doesn’t come with the tag of “proven closer” but I don’t think it matters. Closers are one of the most overrated positions in all of sports. Even a Bobby Thigpen is capable of having a lockdown year in the role. Grilli is no stranger to tough innings and I don’t think he will struggle too much in his new role.
If Grilli does have some troubles in his new role the addition of Mark Melancon should help. Melancon is back in the National League where he saw some success with the Houston Astros as their closer. Some pitchers just aren’t cut out for the American League and Melancon might be one of those guys. The Pirates might have a find in Melancon who will challenge hitters with his fastball.
Losing Hanrahan won’t hurt the Pirates any more than his 5.4 walks per nine innings hurt them. Hanrahan could be about to turn into a pumpkin after having his turn at the ball and the Pirates might just have gotten the glass slipper in this deal in Melancon who is three years younger than Hanrahan. The Pirates won’t miss Hanrahan’s 76 saves over the last two years.