Tag: Joel Hanrahan

Joel Hanrahan to Detroit Tigers: Latest Contract Details, Analysis and Reaction

In their constant search for bullpen help, the Detroit Tigers have plucked right-hander Joel Hanrahan off the free-agent market, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

The reliever confirmed the move on Twitter Friday:

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN and Matthew B. Mowery of The Oakland Press provided general manager Dave Dombrowski’s thoughts on the deal and Hanrahan’s status:

Mowery also delved deeper into the reliever’s health and relayed a quote from Hanrahan’s agent Larry Reynolds:

James Schmehl of MLive.com reported the roster move made to bring Hanrahan to Detroit:

Hanrahan hasn’t pitched in a Major League Baseball game since May 6, 2013 with the Boston Red Sox. He underwent surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right arm that prematurely ended his year.

Now 32, Hanrahan was unable to drum up any interest in the offseason while he continued his rehab. The two-time All-Star started to throw for teams recently, with Heyman listing the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Rockies along with Detroit as interested parties.

The Tigers had the most obvious need, ranking 29th in bullpen ERA, a fact that Dombrowski addressed in a discussion with ESPN’s Buster Olney, via CBS Detroit:

We’ve had some long relief performances, that have not been very good for us, jump those numbers up. For example, if you look at Joe Nathan’s performance, who’s our closer right now, early in the season, he had a couple outings that really increased his earned run average a great deal at this point. Now he’s throwing the ball very well for us.

Olney was also quick to point out that the Hanrahan signing has obvious benefits for both him and the Tigers:

The Tigers have had bullpen woes for years but have always managed to patch something together because their starting rotation has been so good that they didn’t need to use relievers as much as the average team.

That’s not the case anymore because they traded Doug Fister to Washington and Anibal Sanchez is on the disabled list. The Tigers don’t have the depth they once did, putting more pressure on a weak relief group.

Detroit still has the best roster in the American League Central and should win the division handily, but the addition of Hanrahan is as much a necessity as it is a luxury to add bullpen depth.


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Relief Options Still Exist for New York Yankees

With David Robertson heading to the disabled list and an already young and inexperienced bullpen, the New York Yankees must explore the several relief options that still remain on the free agent market in an attempt to upgrade their roster.

While the likes of David Phelps, Adam Warren, Shawn Kelley, Dellin Betances and Vidal Nuno have held their own through the start of this young season, the Yankees lack relievers with both veteran leadership and closing experience. Even when Robertson returns, manager Joe Girardi may sleep easier with a more established setup man in his pen than Kelley. He could probably use an experienced arm in the middle innings of games. 

The players mentioned here are by no means All-Stars, at least not anymore, otherwise they would have found a team by now. Instead, they could provide veteran leadership and a safety net should Robertson and his fellow young relievers hit a skid along the way.


All stats were obtained via Baseball Reference. 

Question or comments? Feel free to follow me on Twitter @GPhillips2727 to talk New York Yankees and Major League Baseball. 


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Boston Red Sox Name Setup Man Junichi Tazawa Their New Closer

In the face of mounting injuries in their bullpen, the Boston Red Sox named setup man Junichi Tazawa as their new closer Tuesday.

The decision was announced by Boston manager John Farrell during an appearance on MLB Network Radio, according to MLB.com’s Jason Mastrodonato.

MLB Network Radio analyst Jim Duquette confirmed Tazawa’s new role via Twitter:

The switch to Tazawa, who had served as a setup man so far this season, was necessitated by the team losing two closers to the disabled list during the past two days.

Andrew Bailey, who leads Boston with five saves, was placed on the disabled list Monday with sore biceps.

Joel Hanrahan, who is second on the team with four saves, prematurely left Monday’s game against the Minnesota Twins because of arm discomfort. He was subsequently placed on the disabled list Tuesday with a right forearm strain.

A staff report by ESPN Boston quoted Farrell on his radio appearance talking about his closer plans while his two incumbents are on the mend:

I think what we’d love to do is close Tazawa. We’d keep Koji [Uehara] in that eighth-inning role that he’s been in. We just got [Craig] Breslow back to us yesterday and before the game we put Bailey on the disabled list who had done a great job in the closing role as well…

Tazawa has a little bit more fastball which, whether I’m siding to the traditional approach with a little bit more power late in the game, that’s there. So, right now that’s the initial approach that we’d take to closing things out.

The 26-year-old right-handed Tazawa is 2-1 with a 2.51 ERA in 16 relief appearances this season. He has struck out 18 batters and walked just three in 14.1 innings, without a save.

A starter earlier in his career, he converted to a reliever role following Tommy John surgery in 2010. He has one major league save in two career chances.

To complete the reshuffling of the pitching staff, the Red Sox also announced that left-hander Felix Doubront was being moved to the bullpen, and prospect Allen Webster was recalled to start Wednesday’s game:

It’s unknown how long Tazawa will remain the closer.

ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes reported that Bailey’s MRI showed only inflammation, which could make for a quick recovery. The right-hander is eligible to return as soon as May 14 if his arm bounces back as hoped.

A WEEI.com staff report indicated Hanrahan has inflammation and a strain in his forearm. He will need rest before being re-evaluated. Although it’s not believed he has structural damage, it’s unknown when he may be able to return.

This will be the veteran right-hander’s second trip to the disabled list already this season as he was just activated on April 30 following a stint caused by a hamstring strain.

Boston’s bullpen is experiencing a major overhaul, but sliding Tazawa so quickly into the closer role is evidence of the unit’s depth.

If the injured pitchers can bounce back quickly, this will likely be a temporary move for Tazawa. In the meantime, he has been thrust into the spotlight and given a chance to show he can handle the new responsibilities.


Statistics via Baseball-Reference 

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Joel Hanrahan Informed He Has Lost Boston Red Sox’s Closer Job

Although Boston Red Sox reliever Joel Hanrahan was activated from the disabled list Tuesday, it was not all good news, as the team informed him he had lost his closer’s job.

WEEI’s Rob Bradford is reporting that Hanrahan, who was activated in time for Tuesday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays, was notified by Boston manager John Farrell that he will not be used to close games in the immediate future. Instead, Andrew Bailey, who closed in Hanrahan’s absence, will continue to get the ball at the end of games.

MassLive.com’s Evan Drellich confirmed the story in a tweet:

The 31-year-old right-handed Hanrahan was acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates during the offseason to be Boston’s closer.

He started the season out strongly with saves in his first three opportunities, but allowed five hits, four walks and six runs during his final three appearances before being placed on the 15-day disabled list with a hamstring strain.

He has an 11.57 ERA in six major league games so far this season.

During Hanrahan’s absence, the right-handed Bailey stepped up as a dominant force in the Boston bullpen. For the season, he has made 13 appearances and gone 1-0 with five saves and a 1.46 ERA. He has also struck out 20 batters in just 12.1 innings.

Hanrahan told Bradford that while he isn’t currently the closer, he doesn’t see it as having permanently lost his job:

I had a talk with Farrell for a little bit today and obviously I’ve been out of the game for 15 days so he’s going to kind of work me back in. Bailey has been doing a heck of a job. I told him I’m comfortable with whatever you want to do. The way the team is playing right now, I just want to fit in and do my part to help. I’m just excited to be back.

At 18-7, the Red Sox have roared into first place in the American League East out of the gate. Clearly, they want to continue going with the hot hand and seeing if they can sustain their success.

Hanrahan is taking the demotion well for now, telling Bradford, “There’s nothing different. My job is to go out there and put up a zero. It doesn’t matter what inning it is.”

Such a positive attitude will go a long way. Even though he won’t be closing games, Hanrahan can still give the Red Sox a major boost as a setup man if he starts pitching like he did at the beginning of the season.


Statistics via Baseball-Reference 

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Grading the Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates on Joel Hanrahan Trade

The Boston Red Sox made a move to shore up the back end of their bullpen by trading for two-time All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan. The six-player trade between the Red Sox and the Pittsburgh Pirates was announced via Twitter on Saturday by John Heyman of CBSSports.com.

The Pirates will receive minor league outfielder/first baseman Jerry Sands, right-handed pitcher Stolmy Pimentel and two players to be named later. One of those players to be named later may be journeyman reliever Mark Melancon, according to Gordon Edes of ESPN. (Full story here.)

The Red Sox will also receive another player to be named later.

There are bound to be a lot of questions surrounding this trade. Questions such as who got the best out of this trade? Will the Pirates regret trading a closer who has saved 76 games in the past two seasons? Can Jerry Sands become a force on the major league level?

Those questions will undoubtedly be answered soon enough.

Here are the early grades for the Hanrahan trade between the Red Sox and the Pirates.

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Boston Red Sox Reportedly Trade for Pirates Closer Joel Hanrahan

After an embarrassing 2012 campaign, the Boston Red Sox have been on a mission all offseason to retool their roster.

According to ESPN’s Jim Bowden, that retooling will continue, as the Red Sox are close to a  trade that will send Pittsburgh Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan to Boston in exchange for a package that includes Jerry Sands:


UPDATE: Saturday, Dec. 22 at 4:51 p.m. ET by Tyler Conway

The deal has been confirmed and we have some more details on the players involved. According to Bowden, pitching prospect Stolmy Pimentel will also be headed to Pittsburgh:

—End of Update—


UPDATE: Saturday, Dec. 22 at 4:20 p.m. ET by Tyler Conway

Well, it looks like Bowden spoke a little too soon, as the deal is not completed, but in the “final stages:

We’ll keep you up to date to when and if this deal gets fully completed. 

—End of Update—


Acquiring Hanrahan continues the Red Sox’s closer carousel in the little over a year since they lost Jonathan Papelbon to the Phillies.

The team had initially planned to go with right-handed flamethrower Daniel Bard, but scrapped that plan and acquired Andrew Bailey last December. However, injuries and ineffectiveness marred Bailey’s 2012 campaign, as long reliever Alfredo Aceves wound up notching 25 saves.

General manager Ben Cherington ostensibly hopes Hanrahan will bring back much-needed stability at the position. The 31-year-old righty notched 76 saves over the past two seasons with the Pirates, making the All-Star team in both years and becoming a fan favorite at PNC Park.

Nevertheless, Hanrahan stands to get a hefty raise this winter in arbitration and has just one year remaining until he hits the open market. With the small-market Pirates always looking to stay one step ahead of the financial curve, Boston’s package of players was simply too much to risk.

For the Red Sox, they are getting a guy whose play has hit an apex as a closer and are getting him at relatively minimal risk. If Hanrahan joins the long line of players who could not hack it under the Boston spotlight, then it’s simply chalked up as a one-year experiment, and both sides move on.

Oftentimes in trades, pundits rush to declare winners and losers. This seems like a rare instance where both sides can walk away happy with the haul they received from the other.


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Pittsburgh Pirates Ready for First Winning Season in Almost 20 Years

Opening Day is near and the Pittsburgh Pirates are finally making some moves to put a winning team on the field.

I was born in Pittsburgh in November of 1991. I was technically alive (though probably not conscious) when the Pirates finished the 1992 season with 96 wins and 66 losses and lost to the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series.

Since then, the Pirates have failed to win more games than they lost every season. My 17-year-old sister has never been alive for a winning season for the Pirates.

With one of the nicest ballparks in MLB, the Pirates still attract thousands of fans to home games despite poor performance on the field. Poor ownership, management and team chemistry have led to the longest winning season drought in ANY major professional league.

However, this year, the Pirates might finally hit the .500 mark. It is 2012 after all. 

Maybe this was part of the Mayans prediction.

The pitching is…not terrible. Kevin Correia was selected as an All-Star last year along with closer Joel Hanrahan.  The Pirates actually made a big splash in the offseason for the first time in a long time by acquiring A.J. Burnett, a starting pitcher in the 2009 World Series Champion New York Yankees‘ starting rotation. He is expected to be the team’s ace once he returns from an injury to his eye.

The Buccos showed a lot of potential last year. 

At the end of July, they were in first place in the NL Central and showing they could win. The season started to fall apart (as usual) after a blown call led to a Pirates’ loss to the Braves in a 19-inning game.

The Pirates are fairly young and still developing. 

Outfielders Andrew McCutchen (25), Jose Tabata (23), and Alex Presley (26), third basemen Pedro Alvarez (25), second baseman Neil Walker (26) are emerging as leaders for the Pirates and have a drive to win.

Lastly, the NL Central is a weak division. 

Albert Puljos no longer powers the Cardinals and Prince Fielder left Milwaukee—both of the NL Central’s playoff representatives in last year’s postseason. Both St. Louis and Milwaukee are still great teams, but maybe not quite as good as last season. 

A few wins here and there against the division leaders, and the Pirates might be able to pull off a winning record.

Picking the Pirates as a playoff contender is a stretch, but an above .500 season is not. 

There are 162 games in an MLB season, and for the first time in almost 20 years, the Pirates have a chance to contend (contend being the key word) for a playoff slot and finally end the depressing days for Pirates’ fans.

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Pittsburgh Pirates: Point Park University Student Still Making a Difference

Last season, I had the privilege to meet and do a story on a young man who was attempting to make a difference.

That young man is 20-year-old and Point Park student Zac Weiss.

Weiss is one of those youngsters who has never seen a Pittsburgh Pirates‘ winning season, but that hasn’t stopped him from being a lifelong Bucco fan and doing something positive along the way.

Last summer I learned about Weiss and his cause, which was called Ballhawking 2011: Proudly Supporting the Children’s Institute.

Everyone has seen the guys at Major League Baseball games rushing around to collect balls in the stands. Weiss is one of those guys, but he doesn’t try and make a profit for himself by selling the souvenirs to the highest bidder.

Instead he does something else. Something admirable for anyone, especially someone only 20 years of age.

Weiss had decided to collect as many balls as he could during the season and then auction them off.  All the proceeds Weiss made would go directly to the Children’s Institute.

“I had to spend some time at the Children’s Institute as a child,” Weiss told me last summer. “I know what type of difference they can make in a child’s life. I’m a college kid with not much money in my pocket, but this is my way of trying to make a difference and help out.”

When we spoke at an Atlanta Braves game last season, Weiss was just getting his cause off the ground.

By the end of the 2011 Pirates season, Weiss had caught 137 baseballs and raised over $600 for the charity.

It doesn’t sound like a ton of money, but for a young man just doing what he can, it might as well be $600,000.

“I try and keep things very reasonable,” said Weiss. “I’m not trying to be an EBay type of thing.  I got a ball autographed by Kirk Gibson who hit one of the most memorable homers in baseball history and is one very good manager and only sold it for $20. I don’t think people should have to pay crazy prices.”

Weiss has goals for the 2012 season, but they are of a different variety.

“I want to continue raising money for charity, but I applied for an internship with the Pirates,” said Weiss. “My main goal is to get that, but if I don’t, I plan on being at about 50 games this season, assuming I stay in good health.”

If he’s out chasing baseballs in 2012, Weiss has some goals already set for himself.

“I’d like to get 206 this season,” added Weiss. “That’s about the number I’ve caught total in my life. If we don’t have 15 batting practices rained out like the Bucs did last year, I may have a chance.”

Several of the Pirates have been very supportive of what Weiss is doing, including manager Clint Hurdle and All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan.

“Hurdle is involved with the Children’s Institute as well,” said Weiss. “I got to meet and talk to him before a Saturday batting practice. The Pirates equipment manager gave me a Lyle Overbay autographed bat and I also received positive reactions from both Hanrahan and Daniel McCutchen.”

Anyone interested in checking on the progress Weiss is making or making a contribution to the Children’s Institute can contact him on Twitter @wewill1992 or by email at yngzc@yahoo.com.

These days there aren’t may positive stories in the world of sports, but what Weiss has been doing is certainly one of them. He thinks his efforts for charity could be joined by a winning season for the Pirates.

“That’s what I really want to see,” added Weiss. “I think they are close and on the verge of turning things around. I can’t wait for Opening Day. Let’s Go, Bucs.”

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Is Pittsburgh Pirates’ Joel Hanrahan MLB’s Next Elite Closer?

At the age of 29, Joel Hanrahan has almost arrived.

Given the opportunity this year to be the Pittsburgh Pirates’ closer, Hanrahan has responded with a performance that has both surprised and delighted fans.

Hanrahan currently ranks seventh among National League closers with 33 saves.

Despite slumping somewhat in August, the big right-hander is in the process of finishing a season that portends well for the future.

Since Aug. 24, Hanrahan has made four appearances without giving up a run.

More and more “experts” are realizing that the number of wins a pitcher earns is not the best method of evaluating his effectiveness.

The second greatest closer in MLB history, Trevor Hoffman was just 61-75 over his 18-year career. However, Hoffman is also the all-time saves leader with 601.

In 2006, Hoffman finished second in the Cy Young Award voting without winning a single game. In that season he had 46 saves with a 2.14 ERA, a 190 ERA+ and a 0.968 WHIP.

Currently, Hanrahan is 0-3 with an excellent 1.66 ERA, a 235 ERA+ and a 0.989 WHIP, statistics comparable to what Hoffman accomplished as a Cy Young Award challenger.

Of course Hanrahan is no Mariano Rivera, but to contrast the two, this season Mariano is 1 -2 with 37 saves, a 2.04 ERA, a 213 ERA+ and a 0.925 WHIP.  Additionally, Mariano is 41-years-old, giving 29-year-old Hanrahan hope for staying power.

CBSSports.com ranks Hanrahan as the major league’s fourth most effective closer behind Craig Kimbrel, John Axford and Jose Valverde. That puts Hanrahan in some pretty good company.

However, after surprising everyone for almost two-thirds of the season by contending for a playoff spot, reality set in for the Pirates.

Entering play on Sept. 3, the Pirates had won 63 games. Craig Kimbrel’s Wild Card leading Atlanta Braves have 81 wins and John Axford’s Central Division leading Milwaukee Brewers have won 82 games. In the American League, Jose Valverde’s Detroit Tigers have 76 wins.

The Pirate’s lack of consistency further emphasizes Hanrahan’s achievement of 33 saves on sub par ball club. Hanrahan is making $1.4 million this season and is scheduled to remain in Pittsburgh next season.

The Pirates have certainly made progress this season and with Brewers’ first-baseman Prince Fielder eligible for free agency next year, the future is unclear for the NL Central.  With Hanrahan already in place, a few additional moves could help push Pittsburgh into serious playoff contention in 2012.

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Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training Battles: Who Will Win The Closer Job?

For a change, the Pittsburgh Pirates will come to Bradenton, Florida with not many jobs open for competition. Almost all of the everyday position jobs are penciled in, leaving only a few bench spots to be earned.

On the hill, the fifth starter’s job will be up for competition and a few bullpen jobs will likely be earned as well.

The main battle for fans and fantasy owners to keep their eyes on though is the battle between Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek to see who will close out games to start 2011.

Now the common reply to this is “Why do the Pirates need a closer since they never win?”

That’s where most are wrong. Granted, having one of these guys as the closer won’t make the Pirates contenders, but constantly blowing ninth inning leads isn’t good for a young team like the Pirates.

The role needs to be defined and new manager Clint Hurdle says it will, but Hanrahan and Meek won’t be in direct competition with each other.

Looking at both guys, Hanrahan has had more experience pitching late in games; although that likely won’t be a factor in Hurdle’s decision making.

Both have power arms and are coming off fantastic 2010 seasons.

Hanrahan appeared in 72 games last season and finished with a respectable 3.62 ERA and allowed less than a hit an inning (58) and only 28 earned runs on the season.  More impressive though is how Hanrahan’s control came along.  He finished 2010 with a fantastic strikeout to walk ratio; striking out 100 batters, while walking only 26.

Meek on the other hand was fantastic in the first half of the season, earning a trip to the All-Star Game.  His second half was good as well. Meek finished the 2010 season throwing 80 innings, sporting a fantastic 2.14 ERA.

He allowed only 19 earned runs on the season, striking out 70 while walking 31.

Both guys could probably step in and do a solid job in the ninth inning, while the other will likely become the primary setup guy.

If the choice were mine, I’d likely give the ball to Hanrahan at the end of the games. He offers up the one thing that Meek doesn’t have at the moment and that’s the ability to strike batters out at any time.

The power of the strikeout is huge. Hanrahan is not afraid to attack anyone with his nasty breaking stuff and will throw it in any count to anyone.  If that’s not working, his high 90’s fastball is plenty enough to get the job done.

While Meek looks to be the closer of the future, for now I think it makes sense to let him continue his natural progression into the role instead of rushing him into it.

While it’s not a major decision, a solid ninth inning guy can add a few more wins to the total. Hanrahan definitely has the stuff to be that guy.  We may see early on if he has the make up for it as well.

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