If you’ve been reading Fire Brand for no more than a few weeks now, you’re probably well aware of how I feel about Devern Hansack. I feel as though he can be very successful in the majors by virtue of his veteran experience both in amateur and professional baseball leagues, his great command and his filthy slider. The Red Sox organization is apparently rather high on him as well. During the offseason, Peter Gammons even suggested that the Red Sox were considering him as an option for the team’s closer. So if the Red Sox like him so much, why is he starting in Pawtucket while Julian Tavarez remains our fifth starter?
Perhaps it’s because of a poor spring? Nope. In Spring Training Hansack pitched 8.2 innings with an ERA of 2.08. Over those innings he allowed only 6 hits while walking 2 and striking out 8. So it must be that he needs more time to develop then? Even this explanation doens’t seem to make sense. Hansack isn’t the typical prospect, like the case was with Chien-Ming Wang, he already comes with experience in international competition. Just by watching him on the mound, it’s easy to see that he has as focused, determined and poised as many major leaguers. It isn’t just his poise that would seem to suggest that he’s ready for the majors though, it’s his numbers as well. Last year Hansack pitched 10 innings against major league competition allowing only 3 earned runs and 7 total baserunners. He also struck out 8.
Even now while Julian Tavarez struggles at the major league level, Hansack continues to have success. Hansack’s debut at Pawtucket was impressive. In it he went 5.2 innings while allowing only 4 hits, 1 run and a walk while striking out 10 batters. On the other hand, Tavarez in his last start lasted only 4 innings while allowing 6 hits, 4 runs and 5 walks while striking out 3. Sure it was only one start and to be fair, Tavarez should be given at least one more shot. If however he is unseccesful as a starter again this Friday, the Red Sox should not hesitate to replace him. It’s rather unlikely that he’s going to give us much of a chance to win against John Lackey who is 2-0 with an ERA of 0.75. It would be a shame however to lose more than two games just for the sake of an experiment.
Another option to replace Tavarez as the fifth starter is Pawtucket starter Kason Gabbard. Gabbard, a lefty, is another Red Sox backup with surprising mound prescence. In his first start he went 5 innings while allowing 3 hits, 2 runs and 3 walks while striking out 3. Both of the other two Pawtucket pitchers who have logged starts to this point have been successful as well. Yankee-killer David Pauley went 6 scoreless innings while allowing only 3 hits and a walk and striking out 5. Even Runelvys Hernandez went 5.2 innings while allowing only 1 run, 3 hits and zero walks while striking out 5. Former Red Sox “closer of the future” and now Red Sox “setup man of the future” Craig Hansen has pitched 2 scoreless innings at Pawtucket to this point while walking 1 and striking out 4.
Keeping In Touch
We must have made a mistake by signing Drew. If you think his bat is hot (.400/.429/.600) check out who’s leading all of baseball in hitting right now. Our old right fielder Trot Nixon has gotten off to a fast start hitting .556/.636/.889 with 3 doubles in his first 9 at bats. I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing Trot the best of luck in ’07. We will all get a chance to see the long time beloved Red Sox player on May 28th when the Cleveland Indians visit Fenway park for a 3 game series. While I hope his bat has cooled down a little by then, I can’t wait to see the ovation he gets from the Fenway Faithful.