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An Uneventful Deadline to Accent an Uneventful Season
Posted By Josh Muller On Aug 6 2011 @ 5:53 pm In Oakland A's | No Comments
In actuality, the A’s GM only made one significant (if you can call it that) move by trading right handed reliever, Brad Ziegler to the Arizona Diamondbacks  for Brandon Allen and Jordan Norberto. Such inactivity at the deadline suggests a few things: One is that the A’s must not feel that they are far off from contending from a playoff spot. The other is that the must feel that they can either keep some of their free-agent-to-be veterans or that they can get better value with the compensation draft picks in the offseason.
But first, lets talk about the trade Beane actually made.
Ziegler is what he is. He’s a right-handed reliever with a sidearm delivery that specializes in getting right-handers out, and he’s damn good at it. On the flip side, left-handers are batting .388 against him, so his only real value is facing a right-handed batter. To get him the Diamondbacks surrendered 25 year-old Brandon Allen and 24 year-old Jordan Norberto.
Allen is a power hitting first baseman who has put up stellar career numbers at AAA but has yet to translate that into consistent success in the big leagues. Allen gets a lot of comparisons to fellow A’s prospects Chris Carter and Michael Taylor for their similar builds, strengths and weaknesses. All three are in the 6-5, 250 lbs of all muscle range. The A’s hope a couple of these guys will pan out to give them some well needed power going forward.
Norberto is a left handed reliever that with a 97 mph fastball and improving command (though still bad). As the old saying goes, if you’re left handed and you have a pulse, you’ll find your way to the big leagues. Every team needs lefthanders in the bullpen and a lefthander that can throw 97 is all right by me, especially since he was a secondary acquisition for a right-handed specialist.
All in all I think this is a solid trade for the A’s. They traded from a position of strength to fortify a weakness. Not sure if Allen will pan out, but it provides another option for the future along with Carter, Taylor and Daric Barton.
All the other relative inactivity worries me a little. In a year that is clearly another transition year, Billy Beane held onto most of his tradable assets, a decision I do not support.
Not trading left fielder Josh Willingham is the easiest one for me to explain. Willingham projects as a Type A free agent. This means if the A’s were to offer him arbitration at the end of the year and a second team signed him, the A’s would receive that teams’ first round draft pick and another compensatory draft pick between the first and second round. Basically, what that means is any trade for Willingham would have to net prospects that Billy Beane feels are a greater value than those two draft picks. That didn’t happen. No trade.
It would not be remotely surprising that no such offer was made. Willingham has expressed interest in signing an extension with the A’s, so maybe that had something to do with it as well.
One could make a similar argument for David DeJesus and Coco Crisp, both Type B free agent outfielders who would net the A’s a compensatory draft picks. It is harder to believe that no team’s offer was greater than a compensatory pick for either of those two guys.
It is increasingly hard for me to imagine that Beane couldn’t find offers for guys like Connor Jackson, Hideki Matsui, or even Brian Fuentes, any of whom would provide no compensation and none of whom are in the A’s future plans. I’m not saying any team would surrender a top tier prospect for any of these guys, but even a long shot prospect is better than nothing, right?
The other part about keeping these free agent veterans is that the aforementioned group of prospects knocking on the proverbial door to the big leagues will now receive fewer at bats for the rest of the year. Michael Taylor, Chris Carter, Brandon Allen and others could all be receiving valuable playing time to work out the kinks at the big league level before next year when they will likely be starting. Instead, they are forced to continue to face AAA pitchers when none of them really have anything left to learn at that level. Whatever Taylor, Allen, and Carter are going to do at the Major League level, they are likely going to have to start doing it soon. This only hinders their development.
The other argument is that Beane wanted to send a good message to new manager, Bob Melvin and to the fans. I don’t buy it. Beane has never been one to make a move for the fans’ sake or anything for the manager’s sake. To me, Beane must think he can resign some of these guys, but then, why would he want to? The A’s have had the worst offense in the universe the past two years.
Sonny Gray signs: The A’s agreed to terms with their first pick in the 2011 draft, Sonny Gray, a pitcher out of Vanderbilt. Gray will receive a $1.54 million signing bonus. Scouts rave about his fast ball- curve ball combination but are split on whether he will be a reliever or a starter in the big leagues due to his 5’11” frame.
The A’s are very high on him though and after he stretches out his arm in the Arizona with the A’s, he will be sent straight to AA Midland. That’s a pretty tough first assignment, but one the A’s feel Gray is ready for. I have a bit more of an extended write up on Sonny Gray here .
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