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Diamondbacks Trade for Reliever Brad Ziegler, Send Norberto, Allen to Oakland

Ziegler can now ditch the bright yellow unis.
Ziegler can now ditch the bright yellow unis.

In a move to shore up the bullpen, the Diamondbacks have acquired Brad Ziegler from the Oakland Athletics for Jordan Norberto and big league first baseman Brandon Allen.

Ziegler is a side arm right handed pitcher who first came to the big leagues in 2008. He shattered the record for most scoreless innings by a reliever to start a career, pitching 39 innings in two and a half months. (The previous AL record was 22 innings held by Dave Ferriss in 1945; the previous ML record was 25 innings by George McQuillan in 1907.) That year he ended with a 1.06 ERA in 47 games with 11 saves. In 2011, he is 3-2 with a 2.39 ERA and one save. He has 29 strikeouts, 13 walks and no home runs in 43 games. 

Jordan Norberto appeared in 33 Diamondbacks games in 2010 and posted a 5.85 ERA with 22 walks. This season in Reno, he has a 4.25 ERA in 41 games with 22 walks.

Brandon Allen is the latest victim of a roving door at first base ever since Mark Grace left. He put up fairly solid minor league numbers (hitting .306 this season in Reno with 18 home runs) but struggled in the big leagues. Many say he was not given a fair chance to take over 1B on a permanent basis. He was acquired by the Diamondbacks when Tony Pena was sent to the Chicago White Sox and called up in August of 2009 (hit .202) and September of 2010 (hit .267). This season he's had three towering home runs but is hitting .172 in only 11 games.

This is a solid move by Kevin Towers to shore up the Diamondbacks bullpen heading into the home stretch. Not only that, but Ziegler is only owed $405K the rest of this season and is said to be under team control through 2014. He has one more year of arbitration eligibility.

Brad Ziegler is also on Twitter and is very good about interacting with his fans, participating in a Tweetup just last week. He's also very active with children's charities and the military in his community.

This begs the question of who is going to be our everyday first baseman. Paul Goldschmidt has put up monster numbers in AA, but is it worth bringing him up this soon? Do we recall Juan Miranda? We may not even be done with trades, perhaps there's still a first baseman coming...

[Jim] This move will require quite some re-arrangement of the roster and roles. Firstly, the bullpen. With Putz as closer, and Hernandez performing extremely well as an eighth-inning guy, it seems that Ziegler will likely join Joe Paterson in the seventh-inning, though will be able to spell Hernandez too [that sound you hear is Dan S dancing a jig for joy]. With Micah Owings likely also moving to the bullpen as a result of the arrival of Jason Marquis, this seems to give Arizona a bullpen of: Putz, Hernandez, Ziegler, Paterson, Owings, Sam Demel and Zach Duke, with Ryan Cook and Bryan Shaw going back to Reno.

Ziegler has a career OPS against of .687, which is very good, and with a BABIP of .307, that is certainly not luck-driven. He has heavy ground-ball tendencies, with a career GB/FB rate of 1.64, more than twice MLB average of 0.80. That shows up in a home-run rate of about one every 29 innings, so that should play well in Chase. He has been particularly hard on right-handers, who have a line of .224/.276/.274, with only two long-balls allowed over 536 at-bats and a 119:36 K:BB ratio. Might do well to keep him away from lefties, however, as they hit Ziegler at a .325 clip with an OPS over .900, and fewer strikeouts than walks (35:55).

Nick Piecoro just tweeted that he "Just heard from someone in Mobile who tells me Goldschmidt is getting promoted." If so, that would resolve the 1B issue instantly: Goldschmidt should be starting every-day, over and above Xavier Nady. Of course, it's a roll of the dice by the Diamondbacks, but the first-base position has continued to be a black-hole of offense all year, with neither Nady, Allen nor Juan Miranda producing. All told, Arizona's 1B have a collective line of .239/.316/.404. That's a .720 OPS, well below league-average for the position (.788), even with Chase factoring in. Goldschmidt won't really have to be very good, to be an improvement on that.

We are still waiting confirmation that the promotion mentioned by Piecoro is to the majors. It is possible that Juan Miranda is returned to the big club, with Goldie moving up to Reno. That might make some sense: he has nothing left to prove in Double-A, and I'd be amused to see what kind of insane, video-game numbers he could post in Reno, where even Sean Burroughs could post an OPS over a thousand. On the other hand, it would be perfect if he could give us a Beltran equivalent, without having to trade away a top pitching prospect [though with Beltran currently 1-for-16 since coming to SF...]

Jack Magruder just said that Kirk Gibson told them they have not yet decided whether or not to call up Paul Goldschmidt. Hmm, the intrigue grows...