|White Sox general manager Kenny Williams made a move to acquire bullpen help in the form of Diamondbacks power righthander Tony Pena. Chicago sent Triple-A first baseman Brandon Allen to Arizona, who will assign him to Reno, their Triple-A affiliate.
Pena, 27, had gone 5-3, 4.24 with 26 strikeouts and 11 walks in 37 games for Arizona this season. He was an important cog in the bullpen, and was seen by some as Arizona’s closer of the future, considering his electric, mid-90s fastball with late life and his sharp, high-80s slider. But Pena had gone through a rough stretch over his last 12 appearances, allowing 11 runs and striking out just six. Pena has an unconventional motion and uses maximum effort on each delivery.
|Allen, 23, was a fifth-round pick in 2004 from Montgomery (Texas) High.
The 6-foot-2, 235-pounder was a star prep linebacker for Montgomery,
and struggled to adjust to professional baseball over the first few
years of his career. That all changed for Allen last year, when he
exploded for 29 home runs between high Class A Winston-Salem and
Double-A Birmingham. He posted a Carolina League-best .527 slugging
percentage. Allen was hitting .282/.348/.436 with eight long balls and
43 RBIs in 77 games on the year.
Originally thought of as strictly a power hitter, Allen proved he could hit for at least some average last year when he hit a combined .278. Still, Allen put his power on display immediately after his call up to Double-A last year when he smacked two big flies off David Price, then with Montgomery. And though some knocked Allen defensively, he’s worked hard over the last two seasons to get in shape, and the results have shown on the field. Allen uses his size to his advantage, generating power with his lower half and creating leverage in his swing.
With Jim Thome’s contract expiring after this season and Paul Konerko’s doing so after 2010, many projected Allen as Chicago’s first baseman of the future. Now, Allen will have a similar opportunity in Arizona. He’s got a chance to be an average to above-average major league player.
|With a 36-49 record—trailing the Dodgers by 18 games even with a five-game winning streak—it would appear that the Diamondbacks are going to be trade deadline sellers. Pena had struggled as of late, and with Chad Tracy and Tony Clark slated to be free agents after the season, it made sense for Arizona to pick up a potential everyday first baseman.
Chicago added depth to its bullpen, and while it wasn’t necessarily needed, it’s a luxury that most teams don’t have. Pena will add to an already strong bullpen, which includes Octavio Dotel, Scott Linebrink and Bobby Jenks.
Williams and Josh Byrnes, Diamondbacks GM, have developed a trend of wheeling and dealing with each other over the past few seasons. Chris Young, Javier Vasquez and Carlos Quentin are the biggest major league names who have switched hands. The teams also traded prospects that led to the acquisitions of Dan Haren and Ken Griffey Jr.