Does the Pena Trade Signal a Fire Sale?
Tony Pena (Getty Images)

Posted Jul 8, 2009


That the Arizona Diamondbacks would make trades three weeks prior to the July 31 trade deadline is not a surprise. It is a little surprising, however, that they would deal Tony Pena, a reliever long thought to be the future closer of the organization who will not be free agent eligible for another three years. What does this mean for subsequent deals over the next three weeks?

The Diamondbacks began what could become a trading-deadline frenzy by sending right-handed reliever Tony Pena to the Chicago White Sox for minor league first baseman Brandon Allen on Tuesday.

Pena became available after a recent stretch of bad outings -- 11 earned runs in his last 8 2/3 innings -- dropped him behind right-hander Jon Rauch in the bullpen pecking order of setup men for closer Chad Qualls. Lefty Clay Zavada may now move into a setup role.

The D-backs are winners of their last four games, but 35-49 and 18 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.  They have plenty of other potential free agents if the right trade opportunities arise: lefty Doug Davis, second baseman Felipe Lopez, first basemen Chad Tracy and Tony Clark, infielder Augie Ojeda, and right-hander Jon Garland. All but Tracy and Garland will be free agents at the end of the season. Tracy has a $7 million team option the D-backs are certain to decline. Garland has a mutual option at $10 million for 2010 that is unlikely to be exercised by the D-backs.

Pena, 5-3 with a 4.24 ERA, is the franchise leader with 63 holds, but he only fulfilled the potential the D-backs initially saw for him in the first three months of 2007.  When they signed him to a $400,000 signing bonus out of the Dominican Republic, he pitched under the name Adriano Rosario in order to appear younger than he actually was. He went 16-13 with a 4.08 ERA in 209 career games with Arizona.

Allen, 23, was hitting a combined .281 with 16 doubles, three triples, eight home runs, and 43 RBI combined at Class AA Birmingham and Class AAA Charlotte this season. A fifth-round draft pick of the White Sox in 2004, Allen will be assigned to Class AAA Reno.

"Our offense is improving, but obviously it still needs to improve," general manager Josh Byrnes said. "We got a player in Brandon Allen that will help our offense improve over the long haul."

If Tracy and Clark do not return, Mark Reynolds, Josh Whitesell and Allen would appear to be the top candidates for the starting first base job in 2010.

DIAMONDBACKS 4, PADRES 3: Arizona tied its season high with a fourth consecutive victory while winning its first home series since April 27-29, when it took two of three from the Chicago Cubs. The D-backs will go for their first sweep of the season, home or road, in the final game of a three-game series against the Padres on Wednesday afternoon. LHP Doug Davis gave up two runs in 6 1/3 innings for his first victory since June 5.

SNAKE BYTES

--LHP Doug Davis made his fourth consecutive quality start, and lowered his ERA to 3.13, by pitching 6 1/3 innings of two-run ball Tuesday. He helped secure his second victory in 12 starts (nine quality) since April 29 by picking two runners off first base, including opposing pitcher Kevin Correia. "That's two-thirds of an inning when I didn't have to throw a pitch," Davis said. "I thought I made some big pitches when I had to."

--OF Gerardo Parra tripled and singled against San Diego on Tuesday, and he has 10 hits in the past four games while contributing five runs and three RBI. Parra has added 30 points to his average in those four games, to .280 from a season-low .250, while showing his defensive versatility. He has started twice in left field, once in center and once in right. Parra, whose contract was purchased May 13 from Class AA Mobile, has started 23 games in left field, 16 in center, and four in right.  He has played in 47 of the D-backs' 50 games since the callup. Parra is tied for the major league lead with six triples.

--RHP Jon Garland has not won in his last nine starts, extending the longest winless streak of his career when he gave up three runs in six innings of a no-decision Monday. Garland, who left in a 3-3 game, is 0-6 with a 4.86 ERA since his last victory, May 19 at Florida. He has six quality starts in that run.

--The announced crowd of 17,528 at Chase Field on Monday was the second-lowest in franchise history, and both of the lowest have come with the Padres in town. The D-backs drew 16,792 against San Diego on April 26, 2006.

--RHP Brandon Webb (shoulder impingement) seems determined to pitch again this season, in order to show not only the D-backs but other potential suitors that his health will not be an issue in 2010. "If I want to play next year, I've got to show somebody I can throw," Webb said Monday. "To myself, I've got to get confidence back out there on the mound that I need to carry into the offseason." Webb started opening day but has been on the disabled list since, and it remains to be seen whether the D-backs will exercise their $8.5 million option for 2010 or pay a $2 million buyout. Webb has had three MRIs and seen five doctors in the past two weeks, and said doctors have told him a return in September seems possible.

--RHP Jon Rauch followed a scoreless ninth inning Monday by giving up a run Tuesday, but it was only the third time he was scored upon in his last 20 appearances. His victory Monday was his first with the D-backs, as he closed in on his first anniversary with the team. Rauch was 0-6 for Arizona last season, after coming to the D-backs from Washington for INF Emilio Bonifacio on July 22, 2008. Rauch's previous victory was on June 25, 2008, when he beat the Angels 5-4 while with the Nationals. With the trade of RHP Tony Pena to the White Sox on Tuesday, Rauch is likely to continue in a setup role.

--1B Chad Tracy has driven in runs in four of his past five games after being activated from the disabled list July 1. He missed the month of June with a strained oblique muscle. He has driven in runs with a single, a groundout, a home run, and a sacrifice fly. Tracy is 3-for-15 with two intentional walks since his return.

DIAMOND STAT: 0.83 -- RHP Dan Haren's ratio of hits and walks per nine innings this season, through July 5. He had walked 15 in 121 innings.

QUOTABLE: "That is certainly not our intention, to hold a fire sale. We need to keep the core of young players together, like Justin Upton, Mark Reynolds, and (Dan) Haren, and build around them." -- D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall on possible trade deadline deals.


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