On Conversion

Interesting goings-on down on the farm for the Red Sox.  Yesterday, uber-prospect (and not-signable-enough-even-for-the-Yankees) Craig Hansen threw four innings in a start for Boston’s Triple-A team.  Stretching it out offers us a couple of scenarios. First, there is the chance that the Sox are making an effort to convert Hansen into a starting pitcher, which if successful could increase his value to the team, his value on the trade market, and his possible impact later on in this season (or next).  The second possibility, which we find more likely, is that Hansen is being stretched out to gain arm strength, to learn more pitches, and to get experience in a wider range of situational baseball. Instead of closing games out in Pawtucket, and coming in and blowing guys away with one pitch, maybe two, Hansen will have to mix it up and learn more pitches. Guys will see him more than once in a game, and he’ll have to adjust accordingly.  This is the kind of mentoring that we like, the kind of teaching that if deployed properly and carefully can diversify a system, that can conceivably turn a good player into a great one.  We have no idea if Hansen will be an impact player or if his arm can withstand the stress of the additional innings, but it looks as if Boston is approaching this specific player with deliberation and intent, and we guess that is an attitude that pervades the system and applies to the teaching methodologies throughout the minors.  Very encouraging.

7 comments… add one
  • I wonder if this news bothers his agent, Scott Boras, because, after all, he was supposed to be the team’s closer of the future. If he’s molded into an uber set-up guy, does he lose value on the open market? The closer tag, which is often meaningless, does attract bidders. I guess ultimately what Boras thinks means nothing. Just thinking aloud.

    NickYF May 17, 2006, 4:16 pm
  • The question for the Sox is, clearly, do they move Papelbon to a slot in the rotation, and then put Hansen in the closer role? Those are the positions they’ve run historically. Papelbon’s recent success as a closer may have colored their thinking. And now Hansen may be looking at a future in middle relief or the rotation.

    Anonymous May 17, 2006, 4:55 pm
  • I don’t think this indicates any future in middle relief, at least not permanently. I think this is possibly being done in order to see if he can start, to boost his strength and experience. It’s in the starting role where he would be most valuable (to the team and to Boras). Or, it is being done to get him experience so that he can be a better closer, should Papelbon be moved back to the rotation. Or, he could join Paps in the rotation if he’s capable.
    We should all remember that two very famous and talented pitchers started as middle relievers: Johan Santana and Pedro Martinez. So the idea that he would phase into some other role after time pitching middle relief shouldn’t turn anyone off, including his agent.

    SF May 17, 2006, 5:01 pm
  • hansen has looked good so far. a little high on the walks to k’s. i just hope theo and brass learned something from the “cla” debacle. my bet is that we lester before hansen. i also have a strong feeling abe alvarez will be up for those rain out double headers and prove himself valuable.

    sf rod May 17, 2006, 5:29 pm
  • Hasn’t Hansen been a reliever since high school? Pedro and Johan were starters throught the minors. They justed began their major league careers waiting for starting positions to open for them. But, to convert a lief-time reliever to starter seems like an ambitious project.

    NickYF May 17, 2006, 5:37 pm
  • Let us not forget the Papelbon was a closer in college as well — and only converted to being a starter once he arrived in the Sox minor league system.

    Kluv May 17, 2006, 6:01 pm
  • Kluv, I did not know that. I wonder what other starters are actually converted closers.

    NickYF May 17, 2006, 7:06 pm

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