40 Man Roster Review: Joel Hanrahan

With Spring Training less than a month away, the Red Sox 40 Man Roster should be fairly set until the end of camp. I'll take this opportunity to review the entire roster. Lets face it, there's not much else going on. 

Let's Hope Hanrahan isn't staring this direction too much in 2013.
After Andrew Bailey lost most of 2012 to injury, and then was awful when he did return, adding a closer with a more recent track record of success and durability makes sense.  That the Red Sox only gave up Mark Melancon and some negligible prospects makes the deal a slam dunk.

Technically they gave up three years of Melancon, for only one of Hanrahan.  In the process they are also taking on more salary in 2013.  After the Megadeal, payroll was the only thing the 2013 Red Sox had in excess.  Melancon could very well go back to the NL Central and put up similar numbers that he did with the Astros in 2011 as their closer.  Hanrahan does have the better arm and better stuff, which should play better in the AL.  This strikes me as an instance where going by what your eyes can see may hold a bit more weight than the stats.  And no, I am not going to get into the "closer mentality" thing.

Whether or not Hanrahan is successful in Boston will depend largely on his control.  The arm has never been in question, but the same can't be said about his ability to consistently throw strikes.  The Nationals gave up on Hanrahan after he issued 94 unintentional walks in 168 innings (5.0/9 innings).  With the Pirates he managed to lower his walk-rate to 3.8.  Naturally by putting less runners on base he was more successful and finally realize the potential of his stuff.

Hanrahan struggled badly in September as his control imploded again.  He walked 10 batters in nine innings, his WHIP was a ghastly 2.00.  As Red Sox fans we remember Jonathan Papelbon rebounding from a similar finish in 2010, to be quite effective in 2011.  Relievers are a flaky bunch and tough to predict.  Assuming Bailey isn't traded, the Red Sox do have insurance should Hanrahan falter.  Moving from the NL Central to the AL East it has to be a concern that facing more patient hitters could further expose Hanrahan's shaky command.  If he pitches the way he did at his best in Pitsburgh, Red Sox fans should have little to worry about in the ninth inning.

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