Wednesday, November 08, 2006

MLB: Barfield for Kouzmanoff Trade Reaction

By: Dustin Hockensmith

The San Diego Padres have made two significant moves early in the offseason, bringing in new manager Bud Black and sending 2B Josh Barfield to Cleveland in a two-for-one deal for 1B/3B Kevin Kouzmanoff and RHP Andrew Brown on Wednesday afternoon. The Tribe did well to not only improve their middle infield defense, but also add a rising star in Barfield, who can make the game easier in several ways for their powerful offense and terrible defense.

Call Barfield and Kouzmanoff total equals in terms of overall talent, which I don't think they are, but the Indians addressed a bigger need. Kouzmanoff hit .379 with 22 home runs and 75 RBIs between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Buffalo last season and was the Indians Minor League Player of the Year, so make no mistake, the Padres got an outstanding player in return. But there's no projecting with Barfield, you need not look further than his home/away splits last season: .319 avg./.355 OBP/.484 slugging on the road, .241/.279/.361 at Petco Park. He's going to be a star at Jacobs Field.

Combine Barfield with Grady Sizemore, Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner and Andy Marte, and the Indians have got one of the best young foundations in baseball. A porous defense has also improved with Barfield's steady glove shoring up their middle infield.

Presuming that Kouzmanoff can play third base in San Diego, the Padres did well to fill a troubled position. They just lost too much team speed when they dealt Barfield and lost Dave Roberts to free agency. Adding power and losing speed in that ballpark doesn't make enough sense to make this deal because you need to make things happen and not rely on the long ball. The third base combination of Geoff Blum, Russell Branyan and Mark Bellhorn was pretty bad, though, so Kouzmanoff is no doubt a huge upgrade.

Andrew Brown, who spent time at Triple-A and Cleveland, was also sent to San Diego as part of the deal. He won't make a huge impact in the Majors, but he has the look of a decent journeyman reliever. A big body at 6-foot-6, 230 pounds, Brown has been a little erratic and is one of an increasing number of right-handed pitchers who fare much better against left-handed hitters (1.00 ERA, .191 avg.) than right-handers (3.82 ERA, .254 avg.).

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