Right as the Christmas hangover was kicking in for many, Boston and Pittsburgh announced a trade that seemed to sure up the Sox bullpen when they received Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan.
In full the trade was Hanrahan and minor league infielder Brock Holt, for back-end reliever Mark Melancon, shortstop Ivan De Jesus Jr., outfielder Jerry Sands and minor league pitcher Stolmy Pimentel.
In the wake of Hanrahan’s season-ending Tommy John surgery, let us take a look at how this trade truly breaks down (no pun intended) for both teams up to this point in the season.
Of course Hanrahan’s 2013 can now be deemed a complete bust. He never seemed comfortable coming out of the gate in the ninth inning, routinely allowing base runners even in the four games in which he would earn a save.
His ERA was 9.82, he allowed 10 hits (4 home runs), 6 walks and opponents were hitting .333 against him.
April set-backs and a hamstring issue forced Hanrahan to the disabled list, he rehabbed for two games with Pawtucket (allowing 2 runs, 2 hits and a walk in 2 innings) and in his third appearance after returning to Boston he tore the flexor tendon muscle in his pitching arm…season over.
So with Hanrahan down and out, the Red Sox focus on this trade turns to Brock Holt, a 2009 ninth round pick of the Pirates who has graduated through four levels in the minors in as many seasons, garnering all-star honors at three of those stops.
Last year with Altoona, Holt’s .322 batting average was best in the Eastern League, he was bumped to Triple-A Indianapolis where he hit .432 in 24 games, earning him a late-season call to the big leagues and he continued to hit, collecting 19 hits in 24 games with Pittsburgh.
Holt - a career .317 hitter in the minors - was assigned to Pawtucket, but hasn’t even approached the production that made him a favorable addition to the trade.
Through 31 games he has just 20 hits and is batting .190, eighth worst in the International League for players who average 2.7 plate appearances per game.
So far, not so good for the Red Sox.
As it stands Hanrahan is only signed for this season and is Holt can't regain his stroke, he may be a complete wash as well.
On the flip side, the Pirates are getting results on their end, starting with Mark Melancon who has been near flawless at times serving as the setup man for Jason Grilli on a team with the exact same record as the Red Sox, 24-17.
Brought in as a closer option for Boston last season, Melancon failed miserably and was relegated to Pawtucket in April, unable to get back to the big club until June.
He managed to get stronger upon his return to a lesser role and by September was one of the more reliable arms in the Red Sox bullpen, posting a 0.90 ERA in the final month of the season.
That momentum has carried over in his move to the Pirates and in 21 games he has allowed just 1 earned run while striking out 22.
He has a 0.43 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, opponents are hitting just .182 against him and his 14 holds are most in the majors.
Melancon alone (and the money saved on Hanrahan) makes this trade a win for the Pirates, who hope to get some additional production from the other pieces that they obtained.
Ivan De Jesus Jr. was not long for the Red Sox after coming over in the blockbuster trade with the Dodgers last season.
He played 7 games with Pawtucket (batting .385) and got into 8 games with Boston late in the season, but couldn’t muster a hit in 8 at-bats.
Now with Triple-A Indianapolis this season De Jesus has regained the bat that makes him an ideal Quadruple-A guy, hitting .326, second best on the Indians.
De Jesus also has a .929 fielding percentage, splitting time between second, third and shortstop, while also DH’ing twice.
Much like Holt, Jerry Sands has not enjoyed the change of scenery as he has been unable to find that rarified air that he had in Albuquerque (some 5,300 feet above sea level) where he launched 55 home runs over two seasons.
So far, in 38 games with Indianapolis he has yet to send an offering over the fences and is batting .154, second worst in the I.L.
Now Holt, De Jesus and Sands are pretty much organizational depth guys at best, so not much should have been expected of them on a big league level to begin with it.
But Stolmy Pimentel, who teeters on the brink of prospectdom (was ranked 16th best prospect in Red Sox system by Baseball America prior to 2012 season), came storming out of the gates in April, giving Pittsburgh the notion that they have a steal in the 6’ 3” Dominican righty.
In the season’s first month, the 23-year-old allowed just one run for the Double-A Altoona Curve, posting a league best 0.30 ERA while holding opponents to a .179 batting average.
He has since come crashing back to earth in May, going 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA in three starts, but he seems to have turned a major corner just two years after going 0-9 in 15 starts with Portland.
As it stands now the Pirates have become the big winners in this trade and if Pimentel can turn into a viable option for the Pirates than it will be looked back on with much more contempt from Red Sox nation in the future.
Maybe more concerning for the Red Sox is that they must continue to search for a reliable replacement for Jonathan Papelbon.
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