The explanation behind the title deals with the numerous afflictions that have ailed both pitchers in the past couple years. Hanson, a 22nd round draftee of the Braves in 2006, has had extensive history with shoulder and back problems. Last year, Hanson had two separate DL stints dealing with rotator cuff strain and shoulder tendinitis. This year, he dealt with a car-crash induced concussion and another DL stint with back strain. However, his persistent injury history is not even the biggest concern regarding Hanson's future big league success. His fastball velocity has correlated with his previous shoulder pain and has seen precipitous drops since his 2010 sophomore campaign. Since 2010, his average fastball velocity has dropped from 92.7 to 91.2 (2011) to 89.7 this past season. Not surprisingly, his performance has coincided with his shoulder issues and velocity decrease. From 2010, his ERA has increased 1.15 runs (3.33 to 4.48), his ERA+ has decreased 28 points (117 to 89), and his walks per nine innings has increased by 1.2 (2.5 to 3.7). By most means, he went from an above average starter to a mediocre below average one in a matter of two years.
Obviously, these are not favorable trends for any pitcher, let alone one with serious durability concerns. I am by no means an expert on pitching mechanics, but Hanson's delivery and short arm throwing motion (see below) seem awkward at best and could certainly be the basis for his shoulder ailments. Now, Hanson heads back to his hometown Angels, a team in desperate need for starting pitching after dealing Ervin Santana and letting Zack Greinke and Dan Haren walk as free agents. If… a big if… Hanson is healthy, he could be a more than serviceable starter and fill in solidly as a mid rotation guy.
Walden from Hanson is the type of injury suffered. Shoulder issues tend to have high re-injury rates and more damning long term consequences, even more so for a starting pitcher. Walden's less serious bicep strain and injury risk in general should be mitigated by pitching in relief for shorter durations and in fewer total injuries.
Winner: Braves; Atlanta dumped a wrecked pitcher who's peripherals are all trending in the wrong direction for a decent middle reliever. Even if Walden happens to flame out, the chances of Hanson doing so are just as high and this trade could very well end up as a wash. In this case, the team that dumped the most money (Atlanta) would be the winners of this forgettable trade.
Loser: Angels; The Angels acquired the starter they desperately needed, but one I am very hesitant to pencil in for more than 10 or so starts. His injury, velocity, and command decline do not portend for future success. Although Walden will not be missed much in Anaheim, the Angels probably could have done better than Hanson.