Saturday, November 17, 2012

Parrino and Werner come to the East Bay

Brett Anerson body type circa 2009. Tommy Milone pitch selection.

This Friday, Beane decided he couldn’t refrain from orchestrating a trade any longer and caved into his urges by swapping the infamous Tyson and AJ Kirby-Jones for Quad A utility extraordinaire, Andy Parrino, and surprising upstart, Andrew Werner, from San Diego. Finally, this offseason gets a bit more interesting…

At first glance, a deal featuring Tyson Ross as it headliner doesn’t exactly scream significance, but Oakland receives two pieces that not only will impact their 2013 ballclub but may just boot another couple of current Athletics from the squad. With the second trade of the offseason completed, another few may follow after this in anticipation of the upcoming Rule 5 draft now that all but a lone 40 man position is currently occupied and a clogged AAA system makes the prospect of a trade (or trades) seem unavoidable as December nears.

Acquired by Oakland in the exchange was 27 year switch hitting utility man, Andy Parrino. Parrino was a late round selection by the Padres in 2007 and gradually defied his draft position by steadily leaping over names on the depth chart. Receiving praise for his athleticism, middle infield versatility, and defensive ability while failing to impress for power statistics, one might beg the question: Is this a Cliff Pennington clone?? Well, Yes. Except Parrino has superior plate discipline to Pennington and virtually any current internal shortstop candidate for the Athletics. Plus he’s far more of a utility option, having played both third and RF with San Diego, as opposed to the since departed first round selection. Parrino has accumulated 193 PAs between two stints for the Pads and has a .200/.319/.256 line with a .056 ISO, .284 BABIP, 62 wRC+, and 13.5% BB%. While these stats don’t exactly make you fly out of your seats, it has to be taken into account that this is an extremely small sample size and Parrino still has room in which to improve. His saving grace is his on-base capabilities and his defense, which while regressing during 2012, could very well improve if Oakland makes him focus on a sole position (Shortstop).

Bill James has projected the Le Moyne College alumni to hit .262/.345/.392 with a 10.9% BB% through 321 PA in 2013. And for the depleted infield of Oakland, that would be a pretty damn solid low cost production. But, there has been a backlash of Parrino and the possibility of him becoming a shortstop option (Because everyone just rushes to the cumulative batting averages and HRs. Sigh.) after some came to the realization that Parrino isn’t a HR threat. However, Oakland doesn’t need him to smack homers on a nightly basis when they have eight other members of their lineup that can do so. Amongst our current internal candidates, Parrino has the greatest ability to draw walks and ranks in the top tier for defensive ability while providing the A’s with an immediate third or second base replacement should Donaldson or Sizemore go down. Don’t be so quick to judge the newest infield piece for the Athletics because of batting average and age. You guys know better.

The second chip acquired in the deal is lefty soft tosser Andrew Werner, whose story fits perfectly amongst the Oakland cast. Werner went as an undrafted FA out of the University of Indianapolis and couldn’t latch on to an organization so he went in search of participating in an independent league. Three independent league teams stood him up and the fourth wouldn’t accept him until he was needed as an emergency injury replacement. After two campaigns in the frontier league and spending his off time as a pitching instructor at a Division III college, he was invited to San Diego’s tryout camp, but had to pay for his own travel expenses and would be essentially broke if not paid in compensation by the Padres (Which of course only occurs if he successfully makes the ballclub). He was one of the five individuals inked by the SoCal organization at the exhibition, and two years later he was in the majors. And of course, his feel good story moves to Oakland.

It took him a miniscule 262 2/3 IP to ascend to the majors, and the highest FIP at any single destination was while at San Antonio (AA) was 3.03. He surrendered only 12 HRs including only one in the Cal League and thrived with an exceptional K/BB and GB/FB ratio. All while being weighed down by the luck dragons with acceding high BABIPs throughout the minors. Werner would then be rewarded for his dedication and results as after a mere four outings in Tucson, he received his promotion. In MLB, he struggled to some extent with uncharacteristic walk issues and home run problems (Only 40 1/3 IP though) but shined in some select performances versus LAD and Atlanta:

Sound familiar? It should. A similar first major league stint to Dan Straily, the strikeout phenom who found out there needed to be some adjustments made before MLB. However, Werner was overall better than Straily was in 2012, amassing a 4.09 FIP and a 0.3 fWAR. However, his repertoire resembles nothing close to Straily’s, but rather Milone’s, as he features a 88 MPH fastball-80 MPH slider-73 MPH curve and a heavy HEAVY amount of changeups (81 MPH and 30.2% in eight MLB starts). He puts Tomaso to shame on the changeup usage and receives some equally positive results. His .328 MLB BABIP stems from an inconsistent defense and a 52.8% GB% and in turn led to inflated secondary statistics (ERA). There was again a backlash on Werner because people rushed and looked at his ERA (DO NOT DO THIS) while not investigating his entire resume. What Werner will do on the ballclub is jockey for major league position on what promises to be an extremely competitive and elite Sacramento rotation (Griffin, Straily, Peacock, Gray, Werner). Should there be injuries to the always prone McCarthy (If resigned) and aging Colon (Bartolo. Not what some of you weirdos are thinking.), then Werner could get the call to join the team in the east bay. We’ll most likely see him don green and gold at some point next season, so get to know him.

Departing in this deal is the ever famous east bay native, Tyson Ross, who never lived up to his intangibles and physical attributes in Oakland. The 6’6” behemoth who was always cited by his teammates for his affable attitude pitched decently for the A’s, but never earned a definitive starting role in the rotation and had a 50.0% GB% that led to an inflated BABIP, runs, and fan backlash as he never truly lived up to his lofty expectations amongst the home crowd. The pitching equivalent of Barton, Ross struggled with his control at times and never was entirely reliable on the mound. Now, with basically two major league rotations between MLB and AAA including an overflowing bullpen, Tyson just ran out of space. Luckily, things should be more favorable for Ross in San Diego where the expectation can be lowered and the starting cast has spots yet to be filled.

Also heading off to SD is one of my personal favorites, AJ Kirby-Jones. The Knoxville native and Tennessee Tech alum not only has an awesome name, but was one of the most entertaining players to watch live as I covered him in Stockton. With basically the body type of an even stouter Cespedes, AJKJ didn’t disappoint in the power department, smacking unimaginably long bombs nightly and received acclaim for his plate discipline, walking to the tune of a 17.6% mark in the central valley. Every PA had three likely results: Walk, strikeout, or HR. And his style of play contrasted perfectly with Miles Head as the duo formed one of the most formidable offensive punches in the CL pre-ASB. With significantly improved defense at first in the High A ranks, San Diego has quite the gem in Kirby-Jones, who should square off against some of his Stockton teammates while at San Antonio.

Overall, this deal could signal another litany of swaps coming from Oakland as Rosales, Green, Hicks, Miller, and numerous Sacramento occupants seem to be probable candidates for DFAs or trades. Stay tuned as Billy Beane does his work again.

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