Baseball BeatNovember 09, 2006
Open Chat: CLE-SD Trade
By Rich Lederer

News: The San Diego Padres traded second baseman Josh Barfield to the Cleveland Indians for corner infielder Kevin Kouzmanoff and righthander Andrew Brown. [ESPN story]

Questions: Who got the better of whom? What are your projections for Barfield, Kouzmanoff, and Brown next year? Who will the Padres acquire to play 2B?

I wrote the following on Kouzmanoff in mid-September when discussing Late Season Call-Ups:

Kevin Kouzmanoff | CLE | 3B | 25 | 6-1, 210 | B/T: R/R

High School: Evergreen (CO)
College: University of Arkansas-Little Rock
Drafted: Selected by CLE in 6th Round (168th overall) in 2003

Pros: Has always hit in the minors, including .379/.437/.656 with 22 homers in 94 games between AA and AAA this season. On 9/2/06, belted a grand slam on the first pitch he faced in the majors. Slugged three HR in 20 AB in the MLB.

Cons: Already 25 years old. Limited defensively. Chronic bad back.

Comp: Robb Quinlan. Kouzmanoff and Quinlan are both RHB and corner INF with similar builds. Xlnt track records vs. LHP.

Outlook: Part-time 1B/3B/DH. Stuck behind Ryan Garko, Andy Marte, and Travis Hafner. Valuable player off the bench.


Here are Barfield's and Kouzmanoff's stats last year:


     G  AB  R  H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB CS  AVG  OBP  SLG   OPS 
AA  67 244 46 95  19   1  15   55  23  34   2  3 .389 .449 .660 1.109 
AAA 27 102 22 36   9   0   7   20  10  12   2  1 .353 .409 .647 1.056 
CLE 16  56  4 12   2   0   3   11   5  12   0  0 .214 .279 .411  .690


     G  AB  R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB CS  AVG  OBP  SLG  OPS
SD 150 539 72 151  32   3  13   58  30  81  21  5 .280 .318 .423 .741


I saw Josh Barfield play this year and he looked awfully good for a 23 year old 2b asked to carry the load for a contending club. I don't think you should pass on those guys. It amazes me how quickly an organization will (sometimes) give up on a special player in order to get the somewhat challenged masher. Not only chicks dig the long ball. Here's the rookie years of a couple of other guys that were given up on early...

.271/.312/.372 with 7hr/32sb in 635 abs
.266/.328/.382 with 9hr/24sb in 545 abs

Would you trade one of these guys for Kouz and Brown? Well, the top line is Ryan Sandberg and the second line is Roberto Alomar... sigh... the Padres have been here before.

Defense is clearly the new "Moneyball", and I'm sure this is as much a move to shore-up the Tribe's horrific infield than it is banking that Josh will one day look anything like his dad in the box.

There's conflicting evidence, but at worse Barfield looks like he'll save a run or two.

The real question is, does this mean Shapiro really thinks Marte's ready for big leagues?

Barfield has no plate discipline and is an average second baseman at best. Unless he makes a Reyes-like leap, which I'd bet the house against, the guy is just an overrated bum.

From the hitting aspect, Barfield appears to have some room for improvement with his swing. It looks like he has a little bit of Francouer-syndrome, in that he seems to open up his hips relatively early (although Barfield's bat path looks much shorter). Interestingly, Barfield's opposite field power appears to not exist.

I've only seen Kouz's swing a couple of times, but first impressions are that I like it. Short, simple, efficient,repeatable - it will be interesting to see how he does given consistent MLB AB's.

Petco park is a tough place to hit.

Home: .241/.279/.361 12 2B 6HR 266 ABs
Away: .319/.355/.484 20 2B 7 HR 273 ABs

Yes, he needs to improve his plate discipline. But you (Adam) are selling him short, I think.

"Barfield has no plate discipline and is an average second baseman at best. Unless he makes a Reyes-like leap, which I'd bet the house against, the guy is just an overrated bum."

Wow Adam... you can count on the fingers of one hand the players in the last 30 years that have had seasons like his 2006 (given age/position/context). Most players his age - and by most I mean over 90% - are either in AA?AAA or learning the trade from a major league bench position. Seriously, after Sandberg's rookie season (.271/.312/.372 with 7hr/32sb in 635 abs) Bill James estimated that he had at least a 20% chance of a HOF career. How did that work out?

Oh yeah... about Josh's masher dad Jesse...

In the season in which he turned 23, Jesse had this line... .246/.323/.426 and 18hr in 394 abs. So our 20/20 hindsight has Jesse as a patient hitter and his son as a wild swinger. Josh's 23 year old season was .280/.318/.423. I just don't see much difference there. Now imagine that Josh develops anywhere near the power that Jesse had. Would you like a line like .289/.368/.559 with 40 dingers from your 2B when he turns 26? Impossible? Take another look at Ryan Sandberg and Robbie Alomar...

I could see Barfield as an .800-.850 OPS guy for Cleveland within a couple years, which would put him solidly in the upper tier of major league second baseman. Any time you can pick up a 23 year old infielder coming off a .741 rookie season with room for improvement, I think it's a pretty good move--especially considering they had no real place for Kouzmanoff in the immediate future. Kouzmanoff isn't exactly young for a prospect, and if you're going to move him then do it now, and not when he's a 27 year old bench player with no trade value.

Also, Marte's been ready since the end of 2005. He had nothing left to prove in the minors after the end of that season and he basically spent 2006 treading water before he got called up in August. Let him sink or swim at the big league level and give him 400 AB to prove himself, because he has nothing to learn in AAA.

I like this trade for San Diego more than I do for Cleveland. I like Barfield a lot, as I do most any player I saw play in the Cal League who moves on to the majors, but I just don't see him excelling for years to come.

Nor do I think Marte will be anything close to the talent he was projected to be at one point, so I don't view it as the Tribe dealing from a position of strength to fill a weakness.

Kouzmanoff hit for some big power without a ton of strikeouts in the high minors. Me like.

Toss in Brown, who could gain some control and be a highly effective, cheap reliever, and we have a clear winner.

I'll give the horrible cop-out answer and say that this deal helps both teams. Barfield is a good, young second baseman, but the Padres will have an easier time filling his vacancy than they've had trying to find someone to play third base over the past few years. My guess is the Padres will re-sign Todd Walker and bring in a right-handed batter who can play good defense to back him up.

I suppose the funniest thing of all is Kouzmanoff isn't even a lock for their 3b job and they're considering letting him spend another year in the minors in favor of whiff machine Russ Branyan. The guy's already 25, and he hit .380 with an 1.100 OPS at two levels, and they want to send him back for more seasoning?

Huh? "...they're considering letting him spend another year in the minors in favor of whiff machine Russ Branyan."

Branyan was re-signed as a bench player.

From KT, We probably wouldn't have moved Josh Barfield if we didn't think (Kouzmanoff) could step right in.

While the Padres hold the right to send Kouzmanoff back to the minors, "Kouzmanoff will get every chance to win the job..."