Trade Analysis: Petit Swapped For Ramirez

With spring training winding down, the next two weeks will be filled with major and minor transactions, as teams look to settle their 40- and 25-man rosters before the start of the season. The Oakland A's made their first "end of spring" deal on Wednesday, sending infielder Gregorio Petit to the Texas Rangers for reliever Edwar Ramirez. We take a closer look at the deal inside...

The Sacramento River Cats' infield will have a decidedly different look and feel this season, as Gregorio Petit is guaranteed not to be a part of the River Cats' infield for the first time since the start of the 2007 season. Petit was traded by the Oakland A's on Wednesday for reliever Edwar Ramirez in a deal designed to give the A's more depth in an area suddenly ravaged by injuries, the bullpen.

Before the start of spring training, there was no area of the organization that the A's were deeper in than their bullpen. Oakland is returning virtually all of the key players from its AL-leading 2009 bullpen and is adding a pitcher who had an ERA under 1.00 in 2008 (Joey Devine, who missed all of last season after elbow surgery).

That depth has been challenged already this spring, however. Devine has yet to throw in a spring game, and it appears that his recovery from Tommy John surgery will take him into April. A's closer and 2009 Rookie of the Year Andrew Bailey has been battling tennis elbow, while work horses Craig Breslow (elbow tendinitis) and Michael Wuertz (shoulder soreness) have been sidelined at various points this spring. In addition, John Meloan, who had a strong September call-up with the A's last season, will be out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

The A's brought in veteran Lenny DiNardo before the start of camp to provide depth for the A's bullpen and starting rotation, but he has struggled badly this spring, while fellow veteran Jason Jennings (who was also brought in to provide depth for both the A's bullpen and rotation) has been up-and-down in his appearances since signing a minor league deal with the A's. In addition, one of the A's top relief prospects, Andrew Carignan, is still rehabbing from an arm injury that kept him out virtually all of last season and he is expected to start the season at extended spring training.

The A's have three young pitchers still in camp competing for spots in the bullpen -- Brad Kilby, Jerry Blevins and Henry Rodriguez. All three have had good and bad moments this spring and none of the three have as much major league experience as Ramirez, who has pitched in 96 games for the New York Yankees over the past three seasons, posting a 5.22 ERA.

Ramirez has been well-traveled in his seven-year minor league career. The Dominican native began his career in the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim organization, but he was released by the Angels after the 2003 season after not advancing above the High-A level. He didn't play in the US in 2004, but signed with Pensacola of the independent Central League in 2005 and worked his way back into affiliated baseball by posting a 1.45 ERA in 43 appearances. It was the Angels once again who brought Ramirez into organized baseball. He pitched for the Angels' Triple-A team briefly that season before being released once again.

In 2006, Ramirez began the season in independent baseball once again before being signed by the Yankees. He would move quickly up the Yankees' chain after that. In 2006, he posted a 1.17 ERA in 19 appearances for High-A Tampa. That performance earned him a trip to Double-A the following season, and after posting ERAs under 1.00 for Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Ramirez made his major league debut for the pinstripes in 2007. He posted an 8.14 ERA in 21 appearances for the Yankees that season.

Ramirez would spend most of the 2008 season in the Bronx. In 55 appearances, Ramirez posted a 3.90 ERA for New York and he struck-out 63 in 55.1 innings. His performance fell off in 2009, however, as he had a 5.73 ERA in 22 innings for the Yankees and a 3.18 ERA in 51 innings for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

In late February, Ramirez was designated for assignment by the Yankees and he was then traded by New York to the Texas Rangers for cash two weeks ago. Ramirez had made only one appearance for the Rangers this spring, allowing a run on three hits in 1.1 innings. He struck-out three. Ramirez had appeared in some "B" games for the Rangers this spring, as well. He is scheduled to report to the A's big league camp today.

Ramirez's best pitch is a change-up that has been described in some circles as "Bugs Bunny-esque," a nod to the old Warner Brothers bit when Bugs Bunny throws a pitch that takes a crazy route to the plate, striking out the most ferocious hitters on the other team. Ramirez's other offerings, a fastball and a slider, are merely average pitches and his velocity rarely hits above 90 MPH.

Throughout his career, Ramirez has been a strike-out pitcher, with averages of 10.6 and 12 strike-outs per nine innings in the major and minor leagues, respectively. Ramirez has struggled with walks throughout his career, however, averaging 5.1 per nine innings in the big leagues and 2.8 in the minors. He has also always had a high flyball rate and has allowed nearly two homeruns per nine innings in his major league career.

The acquisition of a pitcher like Ramirez, who doesn't have great stuff across the board but does possess one well above-average offering (the change-up), is consistent with the A's recent bullpen acquisitions. A's Director of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi recently told that the A's look for relievers "with a 'weapon,' or plus pitch, which isn't always their fastball – an example being Wuertz's slider." Zaidi also said that the team looks for pitchers with good strike-out rates.

Ramirez was on the Rangers' 40-man roster and therefore has been added to the A's 40-man squad. Although he is a roster player, Ramirez isn't likely to make the A's Opening Day roster unless the Bailey, Wuertz or Breslow injuries linger into the regular season. And even then he will have to compete with Rodriguez, Kilby and Blevins for a spot. The A's have used call-ups from Triple-A in their bullpen liberally the past few seasons, however, so even if he doesn't make the Opening Day roster, Ramirez should see time in Oakland this season if he is throwing well for Sacramento.

If he is with Sacramento to start the season, Ramirez will be part of a talented bullpen that will likely include hard-throwing right-hander Sam Demel (one of the team's top relief prospects) and minor league veterans Fernando Hernandez, Cedrick Bowers and Marcus McBeth (all of whom spent time in major league camp this spring). Right-handers Michael Benacka (a former independent league signing who had an ERA of 2.61 with 90 strike-outs in 79.1 innings for Triple-A Sacramento and Double-A Midland), Mickey Storey (who had a 71:8 K:BB ratio in 51.2 innings at four levels last season), Arnold Leon (who pitched well as a starter at the end of last season, but has more experience as a reliever), Jon Hunton (3.33 ERA in 40 appearances for Double-A Midland last season), Jason Fernandez (who split time between the bullpen and the rotation with Midland last season), Steven Sharpe (who won eight games for Midland and 12 overall in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery) and Jared Lansford (who struggled at times last season with his command, but is still a promising bullpen arm) could also factor into the Sacramento bullpen this season. Dan Giese, who made seven appearances with the A's last season, could return from elbow surgery during the 2010 campaign. Giese has a career 4.22 ERA in 35 major league appearances.

In Petit, the A's will be losing one of the best defensive infielders in their system. They are also saying goodbye to the only player in their system who had played for every A's minor league affiliate (including the A's Dominican Summer League teams) and the big league club. In addition to having a strong glove, Petit was one of the clubhouse leaders throughout his time in the A's organization.

Signed in 2001 out of Venezuela, Petit spent nearly nine years as part of the A's organization. Petit is a shortstop by trade, but he has seen significant time at second and third base during his career, as well. A singles hitter mostly, Petit has a career .268 average with a 691 OPS in seven minor league seasons, but it was his glove that made him a prospect with Oakland. Petit had a down year offensively last season with Sacramento, batting only .244, the worst average of his career. He was designated for assignment by the A's in January.

Petit will provide infield depth for the Texas Rangers, who were looking for depth at the shortstop position, in particular, after off-season signing Khalil Greene's contract was voided due to complications related to social anxiety disorder.

Moving Petit will help the A's to some extent with a potential logjam in the middle infield in Sacramento. Adrian Cardenas, Steven Tolleson and Eric Sogard are expected to start the season with the River Cats and 2008 first-round pick Jemile Weeks, a second baseman, could be in Sacramento soon, as well. In addition, infielders Yung-Chi Chen and Alexander Valdez and utilityman Corey Wimberly will be competing for spots with the River Cats. The A's also may send either Adam Rosales or Cliff Pennington (depending on which player loses the competition to be the Opening Day shortstop) to Triple-A if Oakland decides to carry Eric Chavez as the team's primary back-up infielder. The A's may also like to see shortstop Josh Horton in Triple-A once he returns from off-season elbow surgery. Horton spent all of last season as the starting shortstop for Double-A Midland.

This move figures to be the first of several by the A's over the next few weeks. Jake Fox and Eric Patterson are both out of options and on the roster bubble, so one or both could be moved if the A's can't find room for them on their 25-man roster. With the addition of Ramirez, the A's are back to having a full 40-man roster after being down a player when the team returned Rule 5 pick Bobby Cassevah to the Angels.

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