Monday, November 13, 2006

Barfield/Kouzmanoff Trade Fantasy Implications

On Thursday, the San Diego Padres shipped 2nd baseman Josh Barfield to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for 3rd baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff and RHP Andrew Brown.

Besides being a great move by Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro (the move clears the way for Andy Marte to take over at 3rd, and also cements an infield in which the average age is only 24 years old), the trade also helps Barfield on the fantasy diamond as well.

More after the jump....
Although Barfield put up more than respectable numbers as a rookie (.280, 13 HRs, 58 RBIs, and 21 SBs), check out his home/road splits:

Home: .241 Batting Average, .361 Slugging, .641 OPS
Road: .319 Batting Average, .484 Slugging, .838 OPS

Those numbers obviously represent a stark contrast, and show just how much Petco Park repressed Barfield’s numbers. Given the friendlier confines of Jacobs Field, combined with the continued maturation and progression of Barfield as a major league hitter, fantasy owners should expect a nice boost in Barfield’s numbers next season. I wouldn’t necessarily anticipate a mirroring of Barfield’s road stats next season (although that could be the ceiling), but somewhere around .290-.300 batting average and a 20/20 season is not at all out of the question. Considering Barfield is expected to hit higher in the lineup than he did in San Diego, Barfield could also get up to around 75 RBIs as well, making him a nice sleeper for 2007.

Another important factor to keep in mind for Barfield for the long-term is the quality of his defense. While other young fantasy second basemen, such as Rickie Weeks (and to a lesser extent, Howie Kendrick), have struggled with defense and may not be able to stick at the position long-term, Barfield is an above-average defender who should provide many years of above average production at 2B.

Kouzmanoff is an intriguing commodity. He is coming off of an amazing season in the minors where he combined to hit .379 with 22 HRs, 75 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.093 between Double and Triple A. He also acquitted himself well in a brief stint in the majors, hitting a grand slam in his first major league at-bat. That said, while Kouzmanoff should provide decent production for San Diego, he is relatively untested in the majors and should struggle to adjust during the season. Combined with the Petco Park factor, Kouzmanoff shouldn’t be much more than league average at third, with a ceiling perhaps looking like Mike Lowell’s 2006 campaign (.284 Ave, 20 HRs, 80 RBIs, .814 OPS). At a deep position like third, it’s probably best to avoid Kouzmanoff in ’07.

Brown put up impressive numbers in short relief for Cleveland’s Triple A affiliate. While he has a live arm and a fastball that touches the mid-90s, he’ll probably be used as a 6th or 7th inning setup guy in San Diego, maybe moving up a notch in the bullpen if Scott Linebrink is traded over the off-season. He has little fantasy value either way.


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