As if you had any doubt that Theo was right in moving Craig Hansen as part of the Jason Bay/Manny Ramirez deal a few years back, it can now be confirmed. Hansen, after years of injuries, has been released by the Pirates.
Hansen started off the 2009 season with the Pirates, but only made five appearances, with a 5.68 ERA in 6.1 innings. After that he went on the disabled list, and was eventually diagnosed with a rare nerve injury, which has put his future in doubt. Hansen missed the rest of the 2009 season, and only pitched in 12 games in 2010, most of those at the high-A level. In those games, he threw 16 innings with a 3.38 ERA. When I saw him at the end of Spring Training, he was only throwing 88-89 MPH, down from the 93-97 MPH range that made him a first round draft pick in 2005, and a top prospect in the Boston Red Sox system.
Many people were as excited about Craig Hansen then as we are about Daniel Bard now. I recall there being criticism that we brought Hansen up too fast -- perhaps that contributed to his injuries. Perhaps his injuries were merely a fluke, just a result of repeatedly throwing a baseball very, very hard. Or maybe there was something in his throwing motion that caused the Sox to identify him as a guy to let go.
Not that we want to celebrate a guy's misfortune, but this clearly was not a big loss for us in including him in the trade. I remember thinking it was insane at a time -- include a major prospect to help facilitate a trade where we downgrade from Manny Ramirez to Jason Bay -- but ultimately it worked out. Hopefully Hansen will be able to build up his arm strength and get another change in the big leagues elsewhere.