It was a grand experiment, one that captured the imagination and dreams of many Tigers fans who were sick of watching Phil Coke fart a lead away: Dave Dombrowski took a chance with former Nationals/Pirates/Red Sox reliver Joel Hanrahan in hopes that he would come back in the latter half of the season and work his way into the later innings as a powerful and savvy pitcher that could come up big in any type of high-leverage situation.
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April 13, 2013; Boston, MA USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Joel Hanrahan (52) walks to the dugout after being relieved during the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Unfortunately, expectations for Hanrahan will have to wait another year as the Tigers have recently all but announced his shut down after he’d thrown several bullpen sessions down in Lakeland. Heck, even Dombrowski himself seemed a little downtrodden:
"“At this point, I would say we’re not counting on him at all,” Dombrowski said. “It does not sound encouraging. … There’s another medical check being done, but I would say right now it’s highly unlikely that he would be able to pitch for us this year.”"
Mlive’s Chris Iott said that Dombrowski had been operating under that assumption for a while, which on one hand makes me glad that he had moved onto his contingency plan of the resurgent Joakim Soria, but on the other it would have been nice to know that Hanrahan would have been out for a while a little bit sooner than just pre-trade deadline.
Soria, though, will heal many ills that an inconsistent bullpen has sprouted, including pushing the sometimes-underachieving Joe Nathan out of the closer’s spot. All it took was a couple prospects, albeit two promising ones, to acquire Soria, but really, outside of Nick Castellanos, when was the last time a prospect made the leap to be a solid contributor? Drew Smyly? Rick Porcello? …Justin Verlander? I’m not worried about the prospects.
What I am concerned about is adding one more bullpen piece before the deadline passes. Among many other teams I’ve recently heard the Tigers’ name linked to Philadelphia reliver Antonio Bastardo, and to him I’d certainly lay out the welcome mat: he’s a fireballing lefty who has held left-handed batters to a .135 avg, and currently holds a 10.84 K-rate. Yes, he has a problem with walks, but in a limited role under the guidance of Brad Ausmus (who would no longer be forced to use Coke or any other stink pot left in the bullpen) he could pay dividends down the stretch.
Of course, I have no idea who DD would have to surrender to acquire Bastardo, especially since Kansas City’s endless supply of quality prospects are also being mentioned alongside Bastardo.
Yet with all the different moves being made it’s certainly safe to say that Dombrowski isn’t finished moving, and he’s probably got a goofy move up his sleeve that will disappoint us…until we’re all wondering where this diamond in the rough came from.