Jan
19

Scouting the Trade Market: Brandon Allen

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While there are a number of low-cost and low-risk DH options on the free agent market, that’s not the only place the Yankees will look to fill that void. There are also players on the trade market who can slot into a platoon DH role for the Yankees. While they might cost something in terms of players, they can still come at a relatively low price. They can also come with a low risk level. One such name that came up this morning is the Oakland A’s first baseman Brandon Allen.

Allen started his career in the White Sox system after they drafted him in the fifth round of the 2004 draft. He then went to Arizona in the Tony Pena trade in mid-2009. Since then he’s had a rough go in the majors, though he has continued to obliterate the Pacific Coast League. Here’s a look at how he could fit the Yankees’ needs.

Pros

  • He’s a lefty with power. In 1,116 PA in AAA, he has an ISO of .269. While the PCL is known as a hitters’ league, Allen’s ISO is still well above the league average. In fact, his .273 ISO last year was more than 100 points higher than league average. He also beat the league average by more than 100 points in 2010. He also displayed prolific power before he reached AAA and the PCL.
  • He can also take a walk. The last time he had more than 75 PA at any minor league stop and had a walk rate under 10 percent was in 2007 — in A-ball. In 367 MLB plate appearances he has a 10.9 percent walk rate.
  • He also has contact skills. From Baseball America’s 2010 scouting report: “He toned down his swing and hit more balls to the opposite field in 2009, allowing him to hit a career-high .298 in the minors.” From Kevin Goldstein’s scouting report of the same year: “Allen has a solid approach and enough bat to profile as an everyday first baseman in the majors, combining plus power with a surprisingly solid contact rate, leaving scouts to project him as a .280+ hitter with 20-25 home runs annually.”
  • His biggest weakness seems to be inside pitching, something that Kevin Long, with his now-famous home run drill, might help fix.
  • While he has struggled in the majors, he has fared much better against right-handed pitching. That plays to his favor, considering the Yankees’ current DH situation.

Cons

  • While his major league experience is limited, he has failed pretty badly in that time, hitting just .210/.287/.383 in 367 PA. He struggled even more after the trade to the A’s, hitting .205/.259/.356 in 158 PA last year.
  • Contact rate has been a huge issue. While he kept his strikeout percentage in the low 20s in the minors, he has been in the mid 30s in the majors. Again, as Baseball America has said, it’s partly because “pitchers exploited him on the inner half.” While Long is known for his work in this area, his ability to fix Allen is not guaranteed.
  • At a time when they could have used a first baseman, the Diamondbacks did things like sign Andy LaRoche and Russell Branyan, and trade for Juan Miranda, rather than give Allen a real shot. They also traded him for a middle reliever, which gives you an idea of what they thought of his ability to adapt. That the A’s are shopping him again is another warning signal.
  • As with any player on another team, the Yankees would have to trade living, breathing players for him.

One reason why the Yankees, in all likelihood, won’t acquire Allen is that his upside might be better realized by a lower-tier team. The excellent Pirates blog Pirates Prospects has already put together a trade target article on him. He could also better help a team like the Indians; they could use a first baseman, particularly a lefty-hitting one, pretty badly. Since the Yankees would want him only to DH, and probably part-time at that, they might not be willing to part with the kind of prospects that other teams will, even if those prospects amount to No. 5 starter types.

Still, it’s always nice to have a look at a young left-handed bat who has flashed power. If the Yankees believe that Kevin Long can provide a fix, then he’s a worthy acquisition target. He would pair well with someone from the list of DHs available on a minor league contract, to give the Yankees a few low-cost, low-risk options. It does appear that Allen has an option remaining, too, reducing the risk of acquiring him. Chances are the Yankees won’t get far here. That’s fine. Perhaps Allen isn’t their guy, but he’s just another option in a long list of potential LHB DHs.

Categories : Hot Stove League
  • Mark L

    Michael Aubrey would only cost the league minimum and he can basically do the same sort of damage.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      I used to like Michael Aubrey, but he’s almost 30.

      • Mark L

        If all we really want is a lefty version of Shelley Duncan, does it matter if he’s a finished product?

        That being said, how about Daric Barton as a buy-loy candidate. He has weirdly reverse splits. But he could also be an emergency 3rd catcher.

        • MattG

          Daric Barton? Has his star fallen to this level?

          • Gonzo

            Daric seems to have a weird reverse split. I’m not sure he would be better against RHP’s than some inhouse options.

    • Rookie

      Doesn’t look to me like Aubrey has succeeded in the majors either and that he’s tried for more years. Meanwhile, it looks to me like Allen has had significantly more success in the minors.

  • CJ

    It makes sense. Maybe for a phelps warren Mitchell type?

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Maaaaaaybe Mitchell, but I’m not giving up anything even of that value. Phelps and Warren would make a few rotations in 2012.

      • CJ

        Well phelps warren kontos or any other 24-25 minor leaguer who can make the majors for a team other than yanks should be traded NOW for A-AA prospects to restock because they are not going to help yanks at this point.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          How won’t they help the team?

          Could you have predicted that, out of Hughes, Joba, and Ian Kennedy, the most successful homegrown starter in 2011 would have been Ivan Nova?

          Banuelos and Betances could be busts, while Phelps and Warren could be rotation fixtures. They’re all prospects. Some have more shine than others.

          If Kontos doesn’t make the team out of spring training, he’d be the first bullpen guy up. He’s still got a bit to go before he’s an overage, probably-won’t-be guy like Kevin Whelan.

          • CJ

            I’m not saying they won’t be productive I’m saying they are about to age out. Prospects have time decay. Banuelos is so young he has time. 2012 these guys are blocked with 7 starters. I’m amazed small market teams aren’t beating down cashman’s door for a young starter even as a 4-5

            • Robinson Tilapia

              I think the “seven starter” thing assumes that the three guys competing for the 5th starter spot are still in a position to start, if they’re even on the team, once someone goes down. Being the 8th or 9th starter in this situation right now is certainly a lot of depth, but it’s not impossible to see a situation in which Phelps or Warren are making a start for the Yankees, even during the first few months of the season. Reason enough to hold onto them if a good deal comes along? Probably not. I don’t think they’re that buried this year, nor do I feel they’re that decayed yet.

              I’m sure Phelps or Warren would perform much better than some of the riffraff bouncing around bad teams right now for sure.

      • Preston

        Like the A’s, that’s why the trade would work…

  • CJ

    It’s amazing that the Yankees system never develops corner infield or outfield types. I guess their strategy has been to fill them with free agents or trades.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Gardner, Melky, and Austin Jackson all came through the system. Tabata started out in the system. Corner infield has be a perenially blocked position for a while now. Mattingly blocked a guy like JT Snow in the 90′s, but that’s going much farther back than you intended.

      It also hasn’t been that long since what passed for a real prospect was of a much lesser quality around here.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Somewhere in between the early 90′s and recent times, of course, was Mike Lowell.

      • MattG

        You know he meant corner infield or corner outfield types, right?

        So yes, the Yankees have focused up the middle for many, many years. That all changed in this latest draft, though.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          He may have meant that, but that’s not as it read above. Your point is correct, though.

        • CJ

          I did mean corner IF/OF types. Austin Jackson and Brett Gardner is good CF development via draft.

        • I Live in My Mom’s Basement

          They tried to draft corners in 2003 and failed miserably. Eric Duncan and Estee Harris. Even #3 Tim Battle had enough power potential.

          In 2001, John-Ford Griffin.

          • CJ

            Drew Henson too

            • I Live in My Mom’s Basement

              You say true, but that was 2008, and I was assuming a 10 year statute of limitations for the discussion. :)

          • Mattchu12

            I think your goal should be to develop up the middle talent, because at worst, they can usually shift to a corner position whether it’s in the infield or the outfield. If you start at the corners, where do they go if they fail?

      • I Live in My Mom’s Basement

        Not one among Gardner, Melky, AJax and Tabata profiles really well as a corner outfielder– none have the power.

    • Rainbow Connection

      Mattingly?

  • Preston

    I live in AZ and have seen him play a couple of times in person, he was actually playing LF and did it pretty well, so that’s another possible way he could get some ABs for us. As for the D-backs signing LaRoche, trading for Miranda, and getting Russell Branyan… I have no defense for these moves. My only comment would be they signed Jason Kubel to replace the younger, cheaper, better Parra and gave Joe Sauners 6 million to block all of their elite young pitching. So I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in their moves. The A’s are obviously in need of a lot of things and Allen is part of a trio of first basemen they have, so it makes sense to move one of them.

    • CJ

      Parra is a guy I hope is a trade target for yanks (play rf, dh swish) since you see parra everyday, is he as good as advertised defensively?

      • Preston

        He’s not Gardner. But who is. He runs really well and routinely makes acrobatic catches. I don’t love his arm, but he’s definitely way above average in a corner spot and he’d probably be league average in CF. But I wouldn’t bet on him posting to many more .340 wOBA seasons.

        • CJ

          Thanks for scouting report

  • Robinson Tilapia

    This is the epitomy of a “due diligence” post. :)

  • MattG

    This move would please me. An Allen/Jones platoon at DH, and a Gardner/Maxwell platoon in the outfield, would fill out the bottom third of the order very nicely.

    • RkyMtnYank

      I’m fine with leaving Gardner in there full time, he doesn’t need to be platooned, especially with Maxwell.

      • MattG

        Really? Gardner’s wOBA:

        2011: .328/.290
        Career: .330/.308

        I’ll give you this: Gardner’s streaky, and when hot, he hits lefties awesome. When not, and when you have both Jones and Maxwell on the 40 man, I would look to have him on the bench vs lefties.

        • RkyMtnYank

          I think Gardner deserves an honest shot at hitting against lefties consistently to see what he can really do. I don’t think there is enough of a sample to say that those numbers would be a solid representation moving forward given the way Girardi has used him against lefties. It’s like saying a player that young can never improve on anything.
          That said, obviously Jones mashes lefties but I would still rather have Gardner in the field. Fortunately, Jones brings a better glove than most would to that situation.

  • Ghostwriter

    When I read last night that the A’s were shopping Allen, I thought of the Yankees, immediately. If the acquisition price is low, what’s not to like, especially if he has an option left? I’m not saying he’ll live up to his former prospect billing, but he’s never really had an extended shot. With his patience and power I think he’s worth one.

  • Al

    Is he the one who launched a moonshot at the stadium last year?

    • RetroRob

      Yes.

      • Soriano Is A Liar

        Ugh, I was there. Saw two games in that series, and the one I didn’t go to turned out to be the three grand slam game…

  • GardnergoesYardner

    I don’t think it would be good to get him. For one thing, I’d rather go into the season with more of a sure thing then taking a chance on a fringe player.Taking a chance on a player is more likely to fail than to suceed.
    Also, if we wanted to play someone at DH who crushed minor league hitting, hasn’t had much or any success in the bigs, and doesn’t high for a high average, why don’t we just use Jorge Vaquez?

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I don’t think the team would be exactly counting on a guy like Allen. This is more of a project.

      Your Vazquez point stands, though, even if they’re different players. There’s plenty of seemingly-failed prospects out there who are attractive because if you could be the team to fix them…..

    • MattG

      K rates. Vazquez strikes out every third at bat. At AAA, Allen struck out less than every fourth at bat.

      For this reason alone, even in the short term, Allen is the better gamble.

      He’s also a lefty hitter and 5 years younger.

    • Preston

      Why do people not get it…
      Jorge Vazquez age 28 repeating the level .262/.314/.516
      Brandon Allen age 25 repeating the level .299/.413/578
      Mark Trumbo age 24 first time AAA .301/.368/.577

      Allen has struggled in the bigs, Trumbo has been pedestrian. Vazquez is older and in every way worse. He would be ATROCIOUS!!! I would rather give DH time to Colin Curtis than JoVa.

      • MattG

        Careful: those stats are not league adjusted. I agree Allen is better (see above), but there are defensible reasons why some people might think Vazquez would be better in 2012.

      • GardnergoesYardner

        As much as I love Colin Curtis, that is a bit extreme.Vazquez has never really had a chance at the Majors. Allen has struggled there, and Trumbo, despite some power production, had struggles in his first year. Altohugh it is almost definite that Vazquez has problems of his own, he could easily give us a few good months of hittiing. It’s not like we’re asking him to bat cleanup and be the cornerstone of the lineup for the nexxt decade. I say if the team goes with an unproven quantity, better to go with him and not give anything up, thus losing nothing if he struggles.

        • Preston

          My point is that Trumbo did far better in AAA, at a younger age and in his first try at the level. Yet he struggled to get on base at the major league level. JoVa has struggled to get on base at the minor league level, he will be lucky to get on base at a .250 clip in the majors. Plus he’s a RHB so we can’t utilize a platoon split the way we could with Allen. I don’t see any reason for JoVa to get a single AB instead of Andruw Jones at DH.

  • CJ

    Oakland near deal with jonny Gomes. That’s one awful dh candidate that was not mentioned for yanks. Also doesn’t look good for brandon Allen, Oakland would rather have Gomes?

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I used to love him in his early Tampa days.

  • ThatstheMelkyMesaWaysa

    I thought you meant UCONN walk on Brendan Allen

  • RetroRob

    Jason Giambi??

    • Rookie

      Giambi or Thome look like they would be great — if they weren’t already signed by other teams. (I think Thome was another brilliant move by the Phillies — assuming his health holds up.)

  • http://www.nesn.com/2011/01/2011-red-sox-will-challenge-1927-yankees-for-title-of-greatest-team-in-major-league-history.html Denver fighting tebows

    i’ve narrowed it down to

    pena if we have the money
    branyan if we don’t

  • Rookie

    What about Betemit? His splits against RHP are mighty impressive (with credit to Ted Nelson for pointing this out in another thread). And his price seems right, too.

  • Darren

    I’d rather have Glenallen Hill (again) than Brandon Allen.

  • OldYanksFan

    Betemit has had an excellent OPS against LHP in the last 2 years (.873 and .865) and he plays the infield. Considering our team makeup, he looks like a no-brainer to me.