Angels get Tommy Hanson from Braves for Jordan Walden

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Tommy Hanson once looked likely to be atop Atlanta’s rotation for a long time, but after the right-hander struggled for the past season-and-a-half the Braves have traded him to the Angels.

Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports that the Braves will get 25-year-old reliever Jordan Walden in return, which makes it a swap of two young pitchers whose stock has declined dramatically in the last year.

Through his first three seasons Hanson tossed 460 innings with a 3.28 ERA, but this year his ERA rose to 4.48 and his average fastball velocity fell from 92 miles per hour to 89.7 mph. Hanson has struggled with back and shoulder problems since the middle of last season, but even with the declining velocity he managed 161 strikeouts in 175 innings.

Walden went from saving 32 games as a rookie closer in 2011 to quickly losing the job and being relegated mostly to low-leverage outings this year, although he still finished with a nice 3.46 ERA and 48/18 K/BB ratio in 39 innings.

After signing Ryan Madson the Angels clearly felt Walden was expandable and they certainly need plenty of rotation help after trading Ervin Santana and potentially losing both Dan Haren and Zack Greinke to free agency. A healthy Hanson is a 26-year-old top-of-the-rotation starter under team control through 2015 and that would have huge value, but he comes with some big question marks attached and in the meantime the Braves’ scary good bullpen gets even scarier with Walden and his-90s heat.

Sandy Alderson thinks Tim Tebow will play in the major leagues

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Based on his track record so far I don’t think Tim Tebow deserves to play in the major leagues on the merits. Not even close. But then again, I’m not the general manager of the New York Mets, so I don’t get a say in that.

Sandy Alderson is the general manager, so his say carries a lot of weight. To that end, here’s what he said yesterday:

Noting the Tebow experiment has “evolved” into something greater, general manger Sandy Alderson on Sunday said, “I think he will play in the major leagues.”

To be fair, Alderson is pretty up front about the merits of Tebow’s presumed advancement to the bigs at some point. He didn’t say that it’s because Tebow has played his way up. He said this:

“He is great for the team, he is great for baseball, he was phenomenal for minor league baseball last year. The notion that he should have been excluded from the game because he is not coming through the traditional sources, I think is crazy. This is entertainment, too. And he quietly entertains us . . . He benefits the Mets because of how he conducts himself. He’s a tremendous representative of the organization.”

I take issue with Alderson’s comment about people thinking he shouldn’t be in the game because of his background. Most people who have been critical of the Tebow experiment have been critical because there is no evidence that he’s a good enough baseball player to be given the opportunities he’s been given. I mean, he advanced to high-A last year despite struggling at low-A and he’s going to start at Double-A this year in all likelihood despite struggling in high-A. If he does make the bigs, it will likewise come despite struggles in Double-A and maybe Triple-A too.

That said: I don’t mind if they promote Tebow all the way up as long as they’re being honest about why they’re doing it and aren’t trying to get everyone on board with some cockamamie idea that Tebow belongs on the baseball merits. If they do put him in the majors it’ll be because he’s a draw and a good promotion and because people generally like him and he’s not hurting anyone and I can’t take issue with that.

That’s basically what Alderson is saying here and if that’s the case, great. I mean, not great, because Tebow in the bigs will likely also mean that the Mets aren’t playing meaningful games, but great in the sense of “fine.” Baseball is entertainment too. No sense in pretending it isn’t.