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A’s Hope Drew Pomeranz Can Thrive Away From Coors Field

A' trade analysisA day after the Oakland A’s shipped left-handed starting pitcher Brett Anderson to Colorado for left-hander Drew Pomeranz and minor league righty Chris Jensen, the club traded left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins to Washington for speedy outfield prospect Billy Burns.

For Pomeranz, the transaction represents a change of scenery he hopes will return him to the prominence he built as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball when he was in the Cleveland Indians organization.

Pomeranz was the fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft out of the University of Mississippi and was a featured part of the 2011 trade deadline deal that sent Ubaldo Jimenez from the Rockies to the Indians.

He was No. 30 on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects List entering the 2012 campaign but struggled with Colorado, posting a 2-9 record, a 4.93 ERA and a gaudy 1.48 WHIP over 22 starts in 2012.

Pomeranz had a forgettable 2013 in the majors, logging a 6.23 ERA and a 2.03 WHIP in eight outings (four starts).

A’s general manager Billy Beane is banking that Pomeranz will respond favorably to pitching away from Coors Field and in the friendly confines of Oakland’s spacious home ballpark. The A’s already have a formidable rotation that features returnees Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, Sonny Gray, Tommy Milone and Dan Straily; and free agent left-hander Scott Kazmir, so Pomeranz will likely be utilized as a reliever and spot starter.

Though Pomeranz has dealt with command issues, and he spent time on the disabled list last season with left biceps tendinitis, Beane believes that he has a chance to flourish in a new environment. Pomeranz finished 2013 with four scoreless relief appearances.

“Let’s face it, Colorado is a different environment, but going back to his college days – I saw him at Ole Miss – he performed as you’d want, a top-five pick right off the bat,” Beane said about Pomeranz. “Colorado is a very unique environment for pitchers. He’s only 25, and a lot of people still think very highly of his abilities, and we felt it was a good time to acquire him.”

With Blevins in Washington, Sean Doolittle is the primary left-handed reliever remaining in the A’s bullpen, though fellow left-hander Milone could also be used in a relief role. The A’s acquired closer Jim Johnson from Baltimore and set-up man Luke Gregerson from San Diego. They are right-handers. Pomeranz provides additional depth in a bullpen that will have 11 arms competing for seven spots on the Opening Day roster.

A former sports writer for a daily newspaper in Ohio, Jeff Louderback is a professional freelance writer, author and editor who lives in Clearwater, Fla. He writes baseball features for several publications, including prospect profiles for Baseball America. He served as the founder, editor and columnist for Sox and Pinstripes, a blog that covered the Red Sox and Yankees; and BoSox Banter , a site that covered the Red Sox, the Red Sox farm system and baseball-themed travel. Jeff is also the co-author of the life story of former Major League pitcher Brian Tollberg, whose inspirational story saw him rise from the University of North Florida and the independent Frontier League's Chillicothe Paints to a climb up the minors in the Brewers and Padres systems before tasting success in the majors with the Padres. The book will be released in 2015.