Aug 27th, 2009
Was Trading Brandon Allen a Mistake?
In one of Kenny Williams’ lower profile moves from this season he dealt a young 1st base prospect, Brandon Allen, to the Diamondbacks for reliever Tony Pena. Since the trade Pena’s performances have been uninspiring, to say the least, and Brandon Allen has been destroying PCL pitching, resulting in a promotion to Arizona. So I find myself posing the question; was trading Brandon Allen a mistake?
It took Allen a while to break out as a prospect. He was drafted by the White Sox out of high school in 2004 but didn’t emerge as a legitimate Major League prospect until 2008, when he put up a .278/.376/.555 line between Winston-Salem and Birmingham with 29 home runs and 32 doubles as a 22 year old. Allen didn’t get his first taste of Triple-A baseball until this year, 5 years after he was drafted. He struggled with Charlotte posting a .632 OPS, with 1 home run in 62 PA’s and 0 BB/ 13 SO, soon after, Allen was traded to Arizona and with that came a switch to Reno and the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League.
Brandon Allen’s 38 game stint with the Aces was incredibly impressive, his strikeout and walk rates were much improved as he had 20 BB/ 25 SO. He enjoyed a huge power surge knocking out 12 homers with a .621 slugging percentage and .317 IsoP. His BABIP was .324, which is a little higher than you might expect but nothing unreasonable. The one and only red flag that I see in his numbers is the home runs per balls in air rate; 18.8%, which is a lot higher than the average HR/BIA rate of around 6.5%, and is out of line with the rest of Allen’s career outside of his 6 week spell in Birmingham to end last season. The fact that this comes in a very small sample size, just like it did with Birmingham last year, is enough for me to think that this is an aberration, random fluctuation that can and does happen. I’ve always been of the opinion that Allen has good, but not great power and his 6 week homer fest in Reno hasn’t changed that.
I’ve never had any problem with trading Brandon Allen, first baseman with his skill set can be found easily and cheaply but that doesn’t mean this was a good trade. I liked the idea in principle, acquiring a cheap, effective middle reliever could have given us a lot of bullpen flexibility and even the opportunity to trade Bobby Jenks in the offseason but I don’t think Pena is that guy. Outside of one good season with Arizona in 2007 he has been a mediocre at best middle reliever, unable to live up to his potential and so in essence, what Kenny traded Brandon Allen for is a middle reliever we hope can be good, not a middle reliever that is good and I have a problem with that.
I think Brandon Allen is capable of settling into a career line in the region of .260/.330/.455, eerily similar to his Minor League line I realize, Allen should also be able to provide average defense at 1B due to his surprising athletic ability for a guy his size. This would make him a useful player, especially if you’re only paying him $400k a year, but it’s not a player you would lose sleep over trading. Brandon Allen will likely be a more valuable player over his career than Tony Pena, therefore making this trade a bad one in my eyes, but will the White Sox ever regret trading Brandon Allen? I doubt it.