CRAIG HANSEN
RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
Houston Astros vs Pittsburgh Pirates
Age: 26
Born: November 15, 1983
Height: 6′ 6″
Weight: 210
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Drafted: 1st Round, 26th Overall, 2005
How Acquired: Trade (for Jason Bay)
College: St. John’s University
Agent: Scott Boras

WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES

Hansen was part of a trend in recent years for teams to draft college closers with the idea that they can reach the majors quickly. A lot of these guys, such as Hansen, Joey Devine and Royce Ring, struggled at least initially. The Pirates’ own venture into that territory with Dan Moskos didn’t exactly produce a quick return, either. It’s always puzzled me why pitchers who, by definition, have less experience would be expected to reach the majors sooner. Anyway, when the Red Sox drafted Hansen, he featured a mid-90s fastball and a great slider. The slider deserted him immediately upon his turning pro. He’s also had significant problems commanding his fastball. Hansen may have contributed to the problems himself by tinkering often with his mechanics. In short, he figured to be a major project when the Pirates acquired him in the three-way trade involving Jason Bay and Manny Ramirez.

2005-07: Struggled increasingly with control as Red Sox tried to hurry him to majors. Has never been easy to hit, at least in minors. For one thing, to this date he’s still allowed only two minor league HRs in about 130 IP. K rate has usually been good in minors, but not in majors. Did start pitching better late in 2007.

2008: Continued improvement early in year in AAA, but control problems returned once Boston brought him up. After trade, Hansen joined the Pirates’ bullpen and what little control he had immediately deserted him. Numbers tell entire story. Pirates finally sent him to AAA in late August, but he threw only two innings there and came back up for September. Actually managed a three-inning stretch in which he didn’t walk anybody, but followed that by walking six in a stretch of two and a third innings. After he blew a hard-fought, extra-inning game on September 18 by walking three in a third of an inning, the Pirates didn’t use him again. As an aside, it’s interesting that all of the major league players the Pirates acquired in the Bay trade played much worse after joining the Pirates. Hansen and Andy LaRoche went from struggling to falling apart entirely, while Brandon Moss went from playing well to struggling. Moving to a losing environment, especially in the midst of the collapse that the Pirates suffered after Bay and Xavier Nady were traded, may have some seriously debilitating effects.

2009: Going into spring training, Hansen had no options left, but clearly was not ready to pitch in majors. Aside from that, in spring training his velocity was down. Explanation at the time seemed to be that he could control his pitches better that way, but early in the season he went on DL with neck injury. Problem was eventually diagnosed as Parsonage-Turner Syndrome, a rare nerve disorder that weakens the muscles in the affected area, the right shoulder in Hansen’s case. Recovery is likely, but time period for it can be anywhere from six months to five years. Pirates outrighted him to AAA shortly after the season. It was first time Hansen was removed from a 40-man roster, so he didn’t have option of becoming free agent when he cleared waivers.

2010: With recovery from Parsonage-Turner being unpredictable, it was uncertain when Hansen would be able to pitch, but he managed to return in July. Had trouble finding the strike zone, but at least this time there’s an explanation other than simply terrible control.

Hansen doesn’t appear ready to return to the majors, so the Pirates could try to bring him back on a minor league deal. I don’t think he’s eligible for minor league free agency.

STATS
Baseball Reference–Majors
Baseball Reference–Minors
Fangraphs
MLB.com
MiLB.com
CONTRACT INFORMATION
2011: Minor League Contract
2009: $825,000
 

4 year/$4.4 M contract (signed July 2005)

2008: $700,000
2007: $700,000
2006: $700,000
2005: $575,000

  • $1,325,000 signing bonus
  • Signed a major league deal as a first round draft pick
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $1,325,000
MiLB Debut: 2005
MLB Debut: 9/19/2005
MiLB FA Eligible: 2011
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: N/A
Options Remaining:
0 (USED: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)
MLB Service Time: 2.079
TRANSACTIONS
June 7, 2005: Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 1st round, 26th overall pick.
July 26, 2005: Signed by the Boston Red Sox to a 4 year/$4.4 M major league contract with a $1.325 M bonus.
July 31, 2008: Acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates from the Boston Red Sox along with Brandon Moss as part of a three team trade that sent Jason Bay from Pittsburgh to Boston, Manny Ramirez from Boston to Los Angeles, and Andy LaRoche/Bryan Morris from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh.
October 20, 2009: Outrighted to AAA by the Pittsburgh Pirates.