Still looking to add pitching depth after Derek Holland’s injury last month, the 2014 Texas Rangers are reportedly in serious talks with former Los Angeles Angels right-hander Tommy Hanson. Bringing in Hanson and expecting him to contribute would be a major mistake.
According to Baseball Reference, Hanson ranks alongside former Ranger *ahem* greats Roger Pavlik and Bruce Chen. In other words, he’s a mid-rotation starter. Hanson is only 26 and won 13 games in 2012 while striking out 161. He also has a good pedigree: he was brought up in the Atlanta Braves organization and spent four full seasons with the big club. The Braves have long been known for recognizing, developing and retaining good pitching talent.
Suddenly, the Braves traded Hanson after the 2012 season. The team obviously saw something in him that made him expendable.
That trade may have been somewhat prophetic, because Hanson had a horrible year in 2013. The world pretty much collapsed on Hanson and he struggled to four wins in 13 starts. Hanson’s stepbrother died, and he missed nearly half the season working through the grieving process. That 2013 Angels team was an expensive trainwreck all season long, never living up to its preseason billing as some sort of super-team. Probably not coincidentally, the pop on his fastball dropped precipitously from a high in the mid-90s in 2010 to just over 89 mph in 2013.
The Rangers hope that 2013 was an aberration, and that Hanson can return to form with a change of scenery and a new attitude. Hanson insists that he feels fine and is not injured. Unfortunately, it seems that his makeup has been affected in the last two years by the combination of a personal tragedy and a hopelessly underachieving team. Young pitchers can recover from major physical injuries, but a major mental barrier is another story.
It’s sad to see a promising young man beaten down by things utterly beyond his control, but it does happen. Hanson would be better served by taking some time off and getting himself back together again. Only then can he make a positive contribution to a winning team.