Sunday, November 18, 2012

Padres and Athletics Trade Evaluation: Andy Parrino

This is the final post on the trade between the Padres and Athletics that included
Tyson Ross, A.J. Kirby-Jones, Andrew Werner, and Andy Parrino (links to the previous articles on each name). This post is a look at Andy Parrino, who the A's are getting from the Padres.

Andy Parrino is a 27 year old switch hitting shortstop that has also played 2nd (his minor league time is split between 2nd and short pretty evenly), 3rd, and both corner outfielder positions. He was a 26th round pick by the Padres in 2007 out of LeMoyne College (where he had a couple of big years, especially his Junior Year when he lead the MAAC in OPS and a few other offensive categories). Parrino has never been a top prospect of any kind thanks to a "lack of tools".

Defensively, the data throughout the minor leagues (using FRAA and Total Zone data from 2007-2009) suggests he has been an above average defender. In his 79 games in the MLB, all 3 major defensive metrics rate him as an above average defender. Small sample problems (along with the general problems that may arise when using defensive metrics) apply, but the body of evidence points to him being a good defender. John Sickles wrote in April this year:

"Parrino is a very skilled defender at second base, not bad at shortstop and third, and can even take a turn in the outfield if you need him. Given the short benches used by most teams these days, Parrino's ability to play multiple positions, take some walks, and provide occasional pop should keep him employed for awhile."

As far as baserunning goes, the results are somewhat mixed but he is most likely below average. Baseball Prospectus rates his baserunning as below average, while FanGraphs' formula has him as an above average runner, even with a poor speed score of 2.8. Baseball Prospectus also rates his baserunning in the minors as below average according to BRR and his average speed score (excluding his 5 game stint in class A in 2009) was 4.4 in the minors. Considering he has never stolen more than 8 bases at any level, he just isn't going to provide much value on the bases.

Even with the baserunning being below average, the bat is Parrino's weakest spot. He has always drawn walks, even in the Majors, with a 13.5 BB% in that somewhat short sample size (with a 12.53 BB % in his minor league career and 9.255 BB % in AAA, where he hasn't been older than most of the competition). His complete minor league slash line of .272/.372/.406 is pretty uninspiring, though not bad. Power has not been his thing, as league average ISO in the PCL over the last couple of years has been .157. Despite playing in a home stadium with a two year Park Factor of 105, Parrino has a ISO of .145 in his AAA time. He has hit for a good average (and a good OBP with the good walk rate), which is a obviously a skill set that works for good middle infielders. However, it is not one that has translated to Petco Park, as he has a 62 wRC + and 66 OPS + in his time in the big leagues. It is hard to blame the extreme pitcher friendly park in San Diego as well, as his numbers are much worse on the road. It is also not like Oakland's park is much more friendly for hitters (Oakland has a 97 three year Park Factor according to Baseball Reference, while San Diego has a 92 three year Park Factor). In the Majors, he doesn't have much platoon splits at all, not being really stronger or weaker from either side. In the minors, this has pretty much been the case over the last two seasons.

The most troubling thing about Parrino at the plate has been his strikeouts. While he struck out 18.3 % of the time over the last two years in the minors, or less than 2 per every walk, he has struck out 26.9 % of the time in the Majors (while still having an above average BB/K thanks to all the walks). This chart shows the problems Parrino has been having with contact:

It isn't even just one zone that has been giving him problems, it has been basically all over. It is a small sample size obviously, but this is a sign of a guy that is pretty overwhelmed. The swing pitch type chart is also discouraging when you look at how many changeups he has been chasing:

The data sample is obviously somewhat small so let's look at his spray chart (obviously small as well) and see if that can tell us anything about Parrino's style and whether or not that will work in Oakland's ballpark:

You will notice most of his batted balls are center to right. This is because he does a good job of going up the middle against both lefties and righties and pulls the ball as a lefty. In Oakland's ballpark last year, lefties had a .048 OPS better than right-handers. In 2011, the split was smaller at .009 OPS, and in 2010 it was .013. This is important because Parrino will obviously have more at-bats as a lefty as a switch hitter. The 2012 Oakland Athletics club (just them, regardless of ballpark) had a .736 OPS average up the middle, .880 OPS on balls to the left side average, and .934 OPS to right field. All of this data may suggest that Parrino pulling the ball at Oakland as a left-handed hitter may work better than it would at other places (though his ability to hit balls up the middle may be wasted, as the OPS on balls up the middle for the Athletics was worse than league average). League average OPS on balls pulled by right-handers and hit the other way by left-handers (that is, left field) was higher than balls hit to the right side of the field. There may be other variables (such as the hitters or randomness), but this data would seem to suggest that Parrino could be helped by the way the ballpark works.

What makes Parrino attractive to the Athletics? Lazy commentators might just point out the walks, but there is a need on the Oakland roster. When acquiring Chris Young, the A's traded away Cliff Pennington, who was at times the starting shortstop, the starting 2nd baseman, or a utility player. While Parrino is not the player Pennington is, he could take over the utility role. He isn't the answer at shortstop, and the Athletics are most likely bringing back Stephen Drew to take over that role, but he could battle Jemile Weeks for the 2nd base role. The depth on the infield for the A's is pretty poor, as Drew and Brandon Inge are both free agents, Josh Donaldson is probably not an every day player (though he will most likely fight for a starting position with Scott Sizemore coming back from an injury), Eric Sogard and Adam Rosales are more replacement players (who will most likely get a shot at competing with Parrino for a job), Stephen Parker doesn't play shortstop, and Josh Horton has worse MiLB numbers than Parrino does. The A's are going to have a few players to fight for a utility spots, with Parrino as the possible favorite but none of them are real impact players. If the A's are unable to bring back Drew, it looks like they will really be hurting for a shortstop (and may use the extra outfield depth to bring one in). Parrino also has 2 options left, isn't arbitration eligible until 2015, and is under team control until 2018. If a player can play at all (which Parrino can clearly do something, even if only defensively), there is value in that contract situation.

So who "wins" the trade (that is, which team does this help the most)? Basically, the Athletics get two low impact useful players that can help them this year. The Padres get a guy in Ross who could help them this year if used correctly and turn out to be a good bullpen piece in the future (probably better than Werner) along with Kirby-Jones, a guy who can't help them in the Majors this year, but could in coming years. To be simplistic, the A's get the low ceiling high floor guys, while the Padres get the higher ceiling guys (although their impact will be limited as well). To me, the trade will come down to how the Padres use Ross. Will they try him as a starter? Or will they convert him to a slider heavy reliever? If it is the latter, I think he can be successful. If this happens, it may not matter what Kirby-Jones does. I am not going to declare a winner or loser in this trade because it helps both teams (it is more of a need for need trade than a talent for talent trade). The Padres can lose this trade though, if Ross is not used right and Kirby-Jones doesn't develop into a MLB player. The risk for the A's seems to be a lot less (though it obviously isn't a huge impact for either team, good teams still get good value in these kinds of trades).

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