Diamondbacks add A’s reliever Brad Ziegler, make room for Paul Goldschmidt

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Feeling they have an even better one on the way, the Diamondbacks traded their starting first baseman to the A’s for a setup man on Sunday.  The three-player deal sent Brad Ziegler to Arizona in return for Brandon Allen and left-hander Jordan Norberto.

Allen had three homers and seven RBI in 29 at-bats since his callup earlier this month, but he was hitting just .172, leaving him with a .213/.325/.404 line in 178 at-bats with the Diamondbacks over the last three years.  He’s not a surprising A’s target, in that his game is much more about power and walks than batting average.  Unfortunately, he does strike out a lot and he may fall short of being a quality regular as a result.

The move opens up first base in Arizona for Paul Goldschmidt.  The Diamondbacks debated long and hard whether to try Allen or Goldschmidt at first base when they decided to give up on Juan Miranda.  Allen was having a fine season in Triple-A, but Goldschmidt was simply dominant in Double-A, hitting .306/.435/.626 with 30 homers and 94 RBI in 366 at-bats.  A right-handed hitter, he’ll probably take over as an everyday player for the Diamondbacks.  They had been platooning the right-handed-hitting Xavier Nady with the lefty-swinging Allen.

The Diamondbacks also sent Norberto to Oakland.  The 24-year-old reliever made 33 appearances for Arizona last year, amassing a 5.85 ERA in 20 innings, but he had spent all of this season in Triple-A and had a 4.25 ERA and a 54/26 K/BB ratio in 48 2/3 innings.

In return, GM Kevin Towers gets Arizona the setup man he believed the team needed to help David Hernandez in front of J.J. Putz.  Ziegler is very vulnerable to left-handed hitters with his sidearm delivery, but he shuts down right-handers about as well as anyone and he’s yet to allow a homer in 37 2/3 innings this season.  He has a career 2.49 ERA in four seasons since debuting in 2008, and he’s under control through 2014.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.