Cincinnati Reds v Chicago Cubs

Damaged goods? Didi Gregorius has a strained ulnar collateral ligament

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The Diamondbacks traded Trevor Bauer to the Indians and received shortstop Didi Gregorius back from the Reds in the three-team deal. But Didi is malfunctioning:

Didi Gregorius, considered Arizona’s shortstop of the future, has a right elbow injury that has prevented him from throwing or batting for the past month. Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers revealed the injury at a briefing with reporters Tuesday.

He said Gregorius felt discomfort in the elbow while working out a month ago in preparation for the World Baseball Classic. Gregorius was flown from his home in Curacao to Arizona, where an examination found a slight strain of the ulnar collateral ligament, Towers said.

There was no indication that Gregorius was injured before the trade and, indeed, he did not report any discomfort to the Reds.  He was likely going to start the year in the minors anyway, but it has to be discouraging news when the guy you traded your top prospect for comes up achy the first day you lay eyes on him.

Remembering Tommy Hanson’s talent

Tommy Hanson
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I know next to nothing of the person Tommy Hanson was, though I’ve never heard anything bad. I can only write about the pitcher who immediately became one of my favorites after bursting onto the scene in 2009.

That pitcher was pretty awesome from day one. Well, day 11 anyway. He didn’t allow a single run in his third, fourth and fifth big-league starts. He opened his career 9-2, with the Braves getting shut out in both of his losses.

Hanson wasn’t always brilliant in those days, but he was a constant threat to bring no-hit stuff to the mound with him. When he had both his slider and his curve working, there was nothing anyone could do against him other than to try to wait him out. It had to have been a helpless feeling for right-handed hitters in particular. Hanson almost looked like he was cracking a whip in his delivery, and he truly did snap off those breaking balls.

Hanson finished third in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting despite his late callup in 2009. The next year, he made 34 starts with a 3.33 ERA.

It was in 2011 that Hanson broke through as an elite pitcher. On June 12, he struck out 14 Astros to improve to 8-4 with a 2.48 ERA. Five days later, he was placed on the DL with shoulder tendinitis. Unfortunately, the Braves let him return to the mound just 11 days afterwards. He was effective for another five weeks (and somehow passed over for the All-Star Game despite being 10-4 with a 2.44 ERA), but then the shoulder shut him down again. Never again would we see peak Tommy Hanson.

Hanson came back and made 31 starts in 2012, but he never had his former velocity. It was impressive enough that he went 13-10 with a 4.48 ERA anyway. Everyone knew he was damaged goods, yet the Angels traded for him the following winter. He made 13 more big-league starts in 2013, posting a 5.42 ERA.

Even though his stuff wasn’t coming back, Hanson never gave up on pitching. He made 10 starts for the White Sox’s Triple-A affiliate in 2014. In 2015, he pitched in the Giants system, amassing a 4.76 ERA in 15 starts.

Hanson was just 29 when he died Monday. What led to his catastrophic organ failure is unclear at this point. Knowing the cause won’t make it any less sad.

It’d be wrong to say Hanson failed to fulfill his potential as a big-league pitcher. He did. His time just didn’t last nearly long enough, neither in MLB nor on Earth.

Dodgers Chairman Mark Walter on Yasiel Puig: “I wouldn’t give up on him now”

Yasiel Puig
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Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times spoke with Dodgers chairman Mark Walter. The first of many topics of conversation: Yasiel Puig.

Puig has been hampered by injuries this season. And, while there haven’t been any notable controversies involving the Dodgers’ right fielder this year, the release of Molly Knight’s new book on the Dodgers has put a spotlight on Puig, his complicated relationship with his teammates and the fact that, well, he can be annoying.

Some have speculated that the Dodgers would try to trade Puig in an “addition by subtraction” kind of mood. Walter, while saying he would not stand in the way of his baseball operations people should they decide to do that, is not himself ready to give up on Puig:

“I wouldn’t give up on him now . . . I think he’s just going to be a great player,” Walter said.

Walter pointed to a groundout by Puig last week in a home game against the Philadelphia Phillies.

“If you watch him, he’s playing hard,” Walter said. “Did you see that squibbler? He ran his butt off. He almost got there too.”

Walter continued, “Puig clearly, clearly has incredible potential and talent. And I think he’s got a big heart and wants to play hard. So I think that will show up.”

The real issue with trading Puig right now is that he’s been hurt and ineffective of late. Until he shows that he’s healthy and can return the form he showed before his hamstring injury earlier this season, the Dodgers would be selling low. Which, in the case of some players may not be an issue — everyone knows he’s talented and will play better — but given Puig’s reputation, anyone willing to give up a lot for him may want to be dang sure that he comes in as an impact player, not a set of damaged goods, however temporarily that may be.

Personally, I think it’s a bad baseball and business move to trade Puig unless you get a massive return. When healthy he’s one of the better hitters in the league. And he’s making peanuts for the production he is capable of providing. This year’s salary is $4.5 million. Over the next three years that only goes up a million a year. For guy with a line of .299/.380/.491 over his first three seasons, that’s a bargain.