Brad Hawpe was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates with an invite to spring training. Hawpe was a vital offensive piece of a Colorado Rockies team that made its first World Series appearance in 2007. That year, he hit 29 home runs
But heh, we know what you’re thinking. Brad Hawpe is not the big bopper everyone was Haoping for? (Sorry, we had to.) We think this might be one of those Clint Hurdle connections/retread ideas that we have seen over the past couple years.
The left-handed Hawpe was a consistent thumper when he wore a Colorado Rockies jersey until his release in August of 2010. From 2006-2009, Hawpe looked solid with a .288/.384/.518 triple slash adding up to a big 124OPS+ The bombs (and walks) were a big part of his game as he put up 22, 29 during that the magical run in 2007, 25 and 23 homers each of those four seasons.
But looking closer, the dropoff occured in the second half of 2009. Before the All-Star break, Hawpe was killing it. The triple slash was a gaudy .320/.396/.577 with 14 homers. The left-handed hitting Hawpe was in the top ten in batting and played in his first All-Star Game. After the break, Hawpe collapsed.
After striking out just 24 times in April and May COMBINED, he struckout 31 times in the month of June to go with just 13 walks. The strikeouts reached 21 in July. But then he put up a whopping 39 strikeouts to lead all of baseball in August to go with four homers. In September, as his playing time diminished under Jim Tracy, he struckout 25 times as he got only 12 hits the entire month. A few late season bombs salvaged the homerun number for the year.
Hawpe struckout 85 times in 298 at bats in 2010 before the Rockies gave up hope.
The Rays tried to revive his career (he hit 2 homers for them). The Padres then did the same in 2011. The Rangers tried to revive his career. But those big years with Colorado disappeared.
In 2012 he was in DOUBLE-A with Texas and hit rather well, but not what one would expect. As we dug into it more, we saw an interesting quote by Hawpe from this article last year
“It has been great. I’m just sitting here, staying in my house and driving over here. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be doing it.”
We think the Bucs want to see just how well Hawpe has recovered, and see if he might have anything left in the tank as it was mentioned in the article:
Hawpe was an outfielder for the Rockies from 2004-10, then switched to first base with the Padres in 2011 before having to undergo Tommy John surgery in August. The Rangers liked what they saw from Hawpe in Spring Training, but had no room for him on the roster. They released him at the end of Spring Training so he could find a job with another Major League team.
He didn’t find one and agreed to go to Frisco. The plan was for Hawpe to build up arm strength to where he could play the outfield again. Nearly two months into the season, he is close to doing that.
“That’s what the reports are, yes,” said Rangers general manager Jon Daniels. “I know the arm strength has come back. He’s ready to go. He’s done a great job.”
So it looks like Hawpe gets his one more shot with a guy he is familiar with in Clint Hurdle. If he doesn’t make the club, we put our money down that he doesn’t head to Triple-A Indianapolis. He will head back home to Texas.