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Brandon Allen Freed by Billy Beane

July 31, 2011


This trade has been finalized. The player in question is not saying he is pitching today, tomorrow or next Tuesday in Seattle. The pitcher in question is ROOGY Brad Ziegler and he has been dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks for first baseman Brandon Allen and left-handed pitcher Jordan Norberto. Anyone who frequently reads Fangraphs as I do, note they are in love with Brandon Allen and frequently been encouraging that he be saved from splitting time between the Reno Aces and D-backs and given a full time shot at the MLB level. Today Eno Sarris of Fangraphs wrote of Allen,

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.”

We know what the Diamondbacks who sought a reliever get in Ziegler, but in Allen we get a potential power hitter we have longed for for so long. In 65 games spread across three seasons with Arizona he has posted a .213/.325/.404 with eight home runs in 209 plate appearances. This year in 2011 with Reno he has put up a .305/.426/.577 with an incredible .428 wOBA and 145 wRC+ and in 18 home runs in 378 plate appearances. Meanwhile in Arizona he has posted a .172/.351/.483 with three home runs in 37 plate appearances.

The other guy in the trade, Jordan Noberto, who has spent this year with Reno, is a lefty who spent 33 games in the Arizona bullpen in 2010. During those 33 appearances he posted a shocking 9.9 BB/9. Yes, nine-point-nine walks per nine-innings. While he countered that with 6.8 K/9 it still made his FIP at 6.83 far scarier than his already scary ERA at 5.85. Regardless he projects to be another LOOGY in the A’s pen and it appears as if he will be joining Oakland immediately and taking Ziggy’s roster spot. For what its worth his sketchy control is a little less sketchy in 2011 at 4.8 BB/9 in Reno.

Looks to me on paper at least the A’s have done well leveraging a relief pitcher for a piece in Allen that could be really useful going forward and in Norberto giving the A’s a piece that perhaps Billy Beane can flip in the manner they did with David Purcey in acquiring Scott Sizemore (the limitless value of left-handed pitchers never stops).

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