Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Tribe Offseason: Tribe nabs 2B Josh Barfield

Josh Barfield joins the IndiansThe Tribe traded for 2B Josh Barfield, from the San Diego Padres. To get the promising 2nd Baseman, Cleveland dealt 3B prospect, and Lou Boudreau Award winner (as the top Minor League position player in the Tribe organization)Kevin Kouzmanoff and Reliever Andrew Brown.

So what does this mean?

The first thing that strikes me is that Cleveland was proactive. They didn't wait, as has been their stamp over the past few years. Wait until there's nobody avaiable. The other thing that immediately hit me was that Shapiro really worked under the radar for this deal. In all my research of potential second baseman the Tribe was looking at, Barfield's name never came up. This opens up the door on a lot of things to come that we may not be privy to. Another good sign. You can safely assume that Cleveland isn't done making moves, and my bet is that we are looking at some names we haven't been bantering around. Shapiro said as much when he threw out one of those hints that just plain make you giddy.
"there may be some surprises along the way with some of the other things we do this offseason."
I'll get to a couple of my thoughts in a bit.

As for Barfield, I can't say enough about him. Josh, former Blue Jay All-Star Jesse Barfield's son, had a fantastic rookie campaign last year in the vastness of PETCO field. Josh is a right-handed batter, and should fit in well at the top of the Indians order, fitting in nicely between some lefty bats. He hit .280 with 13 homers, and 58 RBI, in one of the most cavernous stadiums in the majors. The bonus is that at PETCO, Barfield only batted .241. On the road? Try .319. This kid has some pop, and most certainly would have been closer to .300 last year had he played in a better stadium, like, say, Jacobs Field. He has good speed, stealing 21 bases in 26 attempts. He does strike out a bit to much, but he was a rookie. I see that improving. Many fear a bit of a sophomore slump, but not me. He's going to enjoy a bit of that rookie "newness" in the American League, where most of the pitchers won't have a "book" on him yet. Nothing but a plus. He certainly has the pedigree, as he was the Padres Minor League player of the year in both 2004 and 2005, and of course, is the son of a better than servicable major leaguer in Jesse. Defensively, Barfield is a good fielder, with a .987 fielding percentage (only 9 errors) which finished 3rd among NL 2nd basemen. Cleveland has acquired a top 10 2B in the league right now, and he will do nothing but get better.

In Kevin Kouzmanoff, the Indians have given up one of their best young prospects, and their minor league player of the year. The only issue with K2 this year was where he was going to play. He's a natural 3B, but Andy Marte is penned in, and with Casey Blake, Ryan Garko and Victor Martinez sharing 1b, he was locked out of a regular roster slot. He is a quick riser, and should be a good player for a very, very long time. Most figured,including me, that K2 would be part of a deal for a closer, reliever or a power outfielder. Some may even thing that K2 was "wasted" in this deal, thinking they could get more veteran leadership or quality. I'm not one of those. In my opinion, the Tribe gambled their minor league player of the year, for a former 2-time minor league player of the year with the Pads, with 1 year of experience (and a ROY candidate) in the bigs already. In doing so, the Indians DIDN'T give up a regular, every day player, and received a player that has been considered a lock to be a star in this league. He proved to be on the right curve last year.

Andrew Brown was more or less a throw in in the deal. He was the infamous player to be named later in the Milton Bradley deal with the Dodgers a couple of years ago. He was also out of options. As good as he may be down the line, he didn't figure into the Tribe's plans. He was a bit of sugar on the deal to ensure it would happen.

This makes the Indians pretty damn young. Their infield at times, with Garko (25), Peralta (24), Barfield (23) and Marte (23), won't field a player over 25. This is exciting for the future, if not a bit scary for the here and now. But it will be a good infield if Peralta wakes up. It will be a very good infield if these guys develop as quickly as most think.

So to the people that think the Tribe's cupboard is bare for a trade now that K2 is gone, well, you may be right. The thing is, however, that the Indians didn't have to pay to get a quality 2nd baseman. The money is still there to snag a player or two in the free agent pool. And I think they have their eye on a couple of players that will pay HUGE dividends next year.

My personal preferences? 2 guys. One who you will agree with, and another that you'll probably be left scratching your head about.

I firmly believe that the Indians will be a player in trying to acquire Carlos Lee. I absolutely love Lee. Here's a guy that hit .300 last year, with 37 dingers and 116 rbi's. Here's a guy who stole 20 bases last year (yeah, he really did). Here's a guy who is good in the clubhouse, and doesn't strike out a whole lot. A power hitter with less than 80 K's in over 600 at bats. He will command a big payday, but the Indians can afford it...if they REALLY want to win. You would be looking at 11-12 million a year. It's time to spend the cash.

The closer I want should come cheap. He's a high risk, high reward guy, but a guy that should come cheap. I'm talking about Scott Williamson. Yes, the Scott Williamson that came with a 5+ ERA last year, and hasn't been very good since his Tommy John surgery. I think he's ready to step back into a closer role. Of course, he's done nothing to show it over the past couple of years. But just maybe, his arm isn't 100% over the past 2 years because of the surgery. Just maybe, he's just now starting to feel 100%. Just maybe, we can get our closer for a small amount. Who knows at this point.

My point here is that we have our second baseman. Carlos Lee makes our offense as good as their is in baseball. A gamble LIKE Scott Williamson or someone as cheap, could shore up the closer position.

A gamble like that could make the Indians the team to beat next year.

Papa Cass has some good coverage of the deal. I'm not sure we agree 100%, but something tells me we will by the end of all the moves.

Tony Lastoria seems to be thinking many of the same things I am however. This, of course, makes me doubt Tony's good judgment a whole lot. Just kidding Tony, I think...

Wait 'til Next Year, Again brings their typical positive light on the subject of the deal. I love the blog, but it is increasingly painful to have fellow Cleveland fans fall into the pantheon of people that almost root for the worst. That being said, I love that blog.

The Diatribe is darn right spot on as always. The bottom line here is that this is the best damned Tribe blog on the internet.

If you want more scoop...CLICK THE DAMN LINKS!

This is freakin' awesome news Tribe fans, and I'm telling you right now, Barfield is going to be a star. Just wait and see. I can tell you this. I sure don't want to be the pitcher that has to face Sizemore, Barfield, Pronk, VMart and hopefully, Carlos Lee.

Wow, I can almost smell the Wor...

NO...not going there yet.

Til Next Time Tribe fans.

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