Oakland Uses Brad Ziegler to Free Brandon Allen

The Athletics traded a reliever and got back a young player that, despite his struggles to date, already has shown more power than anyone on the Oakland roster not named Josh Willingham. Yes, they used Brad Ziegler to (hopefully) free Brandon Allen.

First, the Diamondbacks’ perspective. As much of a head-scratcher as this trade seems to be, there is probably only one redeeming factor. Ziegler is under team control until 2014 and has been one of baseball’s. most consistent relievers so far in his career. Since 2008, he has accrued 2.9 WAR, good for 33rd most among relievers. That’s built on the fourth-best groundball rate over that period as well (62.4%). A career SIERA of 3.49 looks sustainable. Even if he’s not the cheapest arbitration case (he’s already being paid over a million per season), he’s a very good reliever that will cost Arizona less than market value for the next three seasons.

Still, they gave up a bounty to improve their bullpen. And possibly created a hole at first base that they need to fill by trade or callup. For now, that hole will be filled by the recently called up Paul Goldschmidt. Scouts are suspicious of Goldschmidt, but his stats are delicious. The Diamondbacks will give it a chance.

Brandon Allen has flaws. So far, he’s struck out in over a third of his 200 major league plate appearances. His career contact percentage (67.1%) would be fourth-worst in the league if he qualified for the batting title — right between Mike Stanton and Carlos Pena. Even though he’s performed well so far in the outfield, it’s more likely that he’s a first baseman long-term.

And yet Allen still as plenty of potential. He never struck out this much in the minor leagues. His 23% strikeout rate on the farm can be considered a minor red flag, but it does not predict a 35% major league strikeout rate. So far, he’s shown above-average major league power (.191 ISO), so once he connects, the ball does travel. Considering that his 209 PAs have been stretched over three years, it’s also fair to say that none of his major league statistics are really reliable anyway. This 25-year-old is still young enough to find his .267 Triple-A ISO exciting.

Allen does join an organization that has multiple parts that have similar statistical profiles, so it’s unclear how ‘free’ Allen really is now. Probable future first baseman or DH Vernon Chris Carter has a 31.8% major league strikeout rate, a 23.7% MiLB strikeout rate, and a .262 Triple-A ISO. He could be Allen’s statistical twin in some respects. Michael Taylor is a big burly dude finally showing some power in Sacramento. Given the flaws that their three most powerful prospects share, it seems like Oakland has done the right thing to amass multiple options. At least one of these players won’t work out, but if one does, they’ll finally have the young power hitter they’ve been searching for.

That the Athletics also got a 24-year-old Triple-A lefty with a career minor league strikeout rate over nine out of the deal is just cherry on the cake. Yes, Jordan Norberto might be a LOOGY, and yes, he’s got terrible control so far (4.8 BB/9 MiLB career). Yes, he’s also just a reliever at this point.

But hey, maybe they can pump Noberto up and then dump him for a struggling young position player with power down the line. It’s worked once before.



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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.


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schayzelden
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schayzelden
4 years 11 months ago

“Still, they gave up a bounty to improve their bullpen. And possibly created a hole at first base that they need to fill by trade or callup.”

Two words: Paul Goldschmidt.

Paul
Guest
Paul
4 years 11 months ago

Um yeah, how does he not even get mentioned in the piece? Even the scouts who don’t like Goldschmidt admit that he’s a better option than Allen. It’s being reported that Goldschmidt will meet the team tomorrow in SF.

Card Archives
Guest
4 years 11 months ago

I was under the impression that Eno delivered all of his pieces to Appleman via the mailbox seen in the smash hit, “The Lake House,” after writing them two days in the future.

This mistake, this tragic mistake, has mythbusted my hypothesis.

Paul
Guest
Paul
4 years 11 months ago

Fair enough Eno. Don’t know where the rumors came from, but when the GM says in the past month or so that Gibson has been begging him to call up Goldie, seems like that might be better info. Great job by Towers to call up Allen right before the deadline in order to spin him for value. It’s quite obvious now that he was not given a real shot; he was a DFA candidate had Oakland not come calling.

big league chyut
Guest
big league chyut
4 years 11 months ago

Ziegler’s still under team control after this year, Allen is an all-or-nothing type guy at 1B which the Diamondbacks already have.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Allen is a strong improving hitter and is a great catch for the A’s. But with the D-backs system including Goldschmidt (who is a very similar hitter who has outperformed Allen at the corresponding minor league levels) and other power-hitting corner IF types, I don’t think it’s a bad idea for the D-backs to get value for a guy like Allen right now.

Goldschmidt should be up here soon and will hopefully rake, but if not Nady/Miranda won’t be appreciably worse than Allen. Norberto’s a good arm but hasn’t put anything together, giving him up is worth the risk because the D-backs are bolstering their pitching anyway with Bauer and Bradley – add that to the fact that their future rotation seems fairly set with internal guys after Kennedy/Hudson (Parker, Collmenter, Skaggs, Miley, etc.) and Norberto is expendable. Since this isn’t just a two month rental of Ziegler (whose groundballing is perfect for Chase Field), I like the move for both teams.

Welp
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Welp
4 years 11 months ago

Incredible underrating of Allen in Arizona among fans and apparently in the front office.

Shaun Catron
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Shaun Catron
4 years 11 months ago

exactly what has Brandon Allen done to prove hes worthy?

DbacksSkins
Member
4 years 11 months ago

Which fans?

Jason
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Jason
4 years 11 months ago

Basically, the dbacks could’ve traded Allen for Pujols and fangraphs would so the dbacks got ripped off. I mean they only traded a scrub 1B for a desperately needed reliever.

Welp
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Welp
4 years 11 months ago

Relievers are sooooo valuable.

Jesse
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Jesse
4 years 11 months ago

lol @ all the defensive D-backs fans in here. I see why they rationalized moving Allen, but they still sold on the low-end of his potential value. Potential steal for the A’s.

Jason
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Jason
4 years 11 months ago

Sold on the low end of his value? He has sucked in the majors, has never proven to be better than a AAAA player, and this is the 2ND time he has been traded for a reliever. Just because fangraphs slobbers over the guy who has never proven that he’s actually good, doesn’t mean he’s a major league player.

I like this site, but they have infatuations with some players that are a little ridiculous.

MC
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MC
4 years 11 months ago

@Jason – Allen has never had more than 100 AB’s in a season. That’s not even enough to get your feet wet. It’s premature to call the guy a AAAA player. In my opinion most so-called “AAAA” players have never really even been given a chance in the major leagues. It’s only after a couple of 350-400 AB seasons that I would be comfortable to even begin to assess a player’s ability at the major league level. I think most GM’s are simply uncomfortable and would rather play a mediocre yet “generally known” player rather than take a risk yet one that would probably pay off. But that’s another story.

His stats in the minors were outstanding, and given an opportunity to get some consistent AB’s, he might be able to put up an .850 OPS.

Although I think this is theft in broad daylight by the A’s, one thing concerns me – the A’s have had a lot of young talent that they are very reluctant to give at bats at the major league level: Travis Buck, as well as Chris Carter and Taylor. While I understand the desire to have players “prove themselves” at AAA, at some point, you have to say: sink or swim, give the guys 350 AB’s and the heck with it. I mean twiddling your thumbs and watching Conor Jackson isn’t really cutting it.

CircleChange11
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CircleChange11
4 years 11 months ago

I’ve generally ben among the first to oppose the “free Brandon Allen” articles that get FAR TOO MUCH attention at this site, but …

… he really hasn’t gotten much of a shot, which is strange given what ARZ has been running out there. Seriously, Tony Clark was the opening day starter not too long ago, then Whitesell was sent to WAS, and it’s been “tryouts” every sense.

In very small samples Allen has been a little better than league average over the last 2 seasons. That shouldn;t indicate to us anything other than “he deserves some more PAs”.

Here’s how evaluating Allen based on ML numbers becomes difficult …

[1] In 2010 he had very little power, but decent value due to a .440 BABIP.
[2] In 2011, he had good power (.310 ISO), but horrible BABIP (.154).

The one consistency is that extremely high K rate.

At this point I’d rather Allen just get 400 PAs so we can get a gauge on him so this discussion can go in one direction or the other.

He does walk at a good MLB rate (~14%).

CircleChange11
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CircleChange11
4 years 11 months ago

it’s been “tryouts” every sense.

Wow, I just tried to kill the English language.

KS
Guest
KS
4 years 11 months ago

Yeah I have the same concern about the A’s AAA players right now.
I really hope they give Taylor RF, Carter DH, and Allen 1B/Lf out of the gate next season and let them go through their struggles. Give them time, and don’t jerk them around. I wouldn’t mind bringing Willingham back for LF, but other than that I wouldn’t want to see Dejesus or Co Jackson taking roster spots away from these guys next year…

DbacksSkins
Member
4 years 11 months ago

Whitesell has pretty much been rejected by every other major league team too, though. A .900 OPS in Triple-A isn’t very impressive when you’re 27 years old.

My only consolation is that the scouting report on Allen has always been (in very limited time, mind you) that he either can’t or won’t make the adjustments to major league pitching.

Well, that, and the fact that we have Paul Goldschmidt.

Welp
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Welp
4 years 11 months ago

“He has sucked in the majors”

In the 100 PA they’ve given him over the past two years, he’s produced a ~.355 wOBA. So, no.

Jeremy
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Jeremy
4 years 11 months ago

As an A’s fan I’m glad to see Ziegler go. He has an art for blowing/losing games at the worst times. He was great his rookie year but his recent stats are masqueraded by how much he lets inherited runners score. I’m stoked the A’s got a power hitting prospect for one of their worst relievers.

DbacksSkins
Member
4 years 11 months ago

Not sure Allen still counts as a prospect.

Sam
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Sam
4 years 11 months ago

Ziegler is pure situational I like this trade for the A’s.

brendan
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brendan
4 years 11 months ago

this. he has a huge platoon split, as you’d expect for a submariner. He’s been good against righties, but I’m happy to flip him for allen. OAK needs power desperately.

camelot
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camelot
4 years 11 months ago

Its a fair deal. dbacks needed a reliever under team control for multiple yrs, A’s needed hitting. Ziegler is agood situational reliever. Allen never got much of a chance in az. A’s asked for collin cowgill but were denied. Noberto is a lhp that throws 96 mph, but control issues

Michael
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Michael
4 years 11 months ago

Ziegler the A’s worst reliever? Come on..that’s blasphemy..I’m an A’s fan and feel that Ziegler was a top 3 reliever this year along with Bailey and Balfour.

baycommuter
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baycommuter
4 years 11 months ago

Yeah, I’m an A’s fan too and am happy with the trade but don’t like to see Ziegler dissed. He’s a good guy, he isn’t a great option against lefties, but normally he can get through an inning without allowing a run. Except for the next few weeks after they ran him out there with the flu in 2010, he’s been a nice option.

Aaron
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Aaron
4 years 11 months ago

Another way Carter and Allen are alike:

Both drafted by the White Sox and started in the White Sox farm system before Kenny Williams traded them (Allen for Tony Pena; Carter for Carlos Quentin). AND now they have both been traded to the A’s. They have the exact same career path!

Also, interesting to note that the Diamondbacks traded a mediocre reliever for Allen, then later traded Allen for a good reliever.

dirtygary
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dirtygary
4 years 11 months ago

BAllen most likely would have proven he’s exactly what we think he is if he had more AB’s, rather than leave room for the enticing projection of an improved k-rate and solid power. Odds are he remains a fringe 1B that the dbacks already have plenty of (Nady/Miranda/Goldschmidt…)

Ziegler shows the types of peripherals the dbacks are looking for, especially that ground-ball rate at the Chase Launching Pad.

Even if this deal does not work out in the long-run for the dbacks, it certainly works in the short-term. Allen’s production is easily replaceable and the bullpen needs help for the Club to remain in the NL West Division race. While relievers may not be valuable to Clubs with an excess of them, they certainly are to those that don’t.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
4 years 11 months ago

Give that his 2010 and 2011 stints have been polar opposites, I don’t think we know what his MLB ability is other than the 35% K-Rate.

The time that Allen was given his most PAs (110+ in 2009), he performed below replacement level, while having “normal” BABIP (.283) and “normal” power (for him, .183 ISO).

In ’10 and ’11 he has looked promising due to [1] abnormally high BABIP in 2010 (.440), abnormally high ISO in 2011(.310) in very small sample sizes.

But, I think the more PAs Allen gets, the more like the 2009 version he’s gonna look.

B
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B
4 years 11 months ago

Does anybody else find it incredibly ironic that the A’s are “freeing Allen” after they’ve essentially buried Chris Carter this year?

James M.
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James M.
4 years 11 months ago

Allen’s AAA numbers this year are just about useless for projecting results at the MLB level. PCL numbers always favor the sluggers. But nowhere is this more true than at Reno, probably the worst bandbox in the country. 4 of the Top 10 OPS Leaders in the PCL are Aces and Allen is not the best of that bunch. That distinction (?) belongs to Cody Ransom, a 35-year old who has failed many times trying to get past AAA. He is the prototypical AAAA player. Here is a comparison of the two.

Ransom .331/.412/.657 Iso:.326
Allen .306/.427/.579 Iso.:.273

Allen is better at drawing walks. Ransom is better at everything else.

DonCoburleone
Guest
DonCoburleone
4 years 11 months ago

Brandon Allen is 25 already and has accomplished exactly NOTHING so far in the major leagues.. It’s time to stop acting like his situation is the equivalent of the Phillies keeping Ryan Howard down. Brandon Allen is the equivalent of Scott Thorman.

Welp
Guest
Welp
4 years 11 months ago

Yeah, and he’s been given so many opportunities.

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