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Padres pick up Kouzmanoff, Brown for Barfield11/08/2006 3:40 PM ET
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- Mere days into the Hot Stove season, the Indians have addressed one of their most glaring holes. The Tribe acquired 23-year-old second baseman Josh Barfield from the Padres on Wednesday in exchange for infielder Kevin Kouzmanoff and reliever Andrew Brown. Barfield, a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate in the National League this season, gives the Indians some much-needed speed and fills the gap at a position that lacked an everyday presence since the July 30 trade of Ronnie Belliard to the Cardinals. "Our strength at the corner positions has allowed us to acquire a young second baseman that will help our team this year and beyond," general manager Mark Shapiro said in a release. "In Josh Barfield, we are acquiring a young player with upside who plays the game hard, with professionalism and is coming off a successful first Major League season." Barfield, the son of former Blue Jays and Yankees outfielder and 1986 American League home run champ Jesse Barfield, made his Major League debut on Opening Day in '06. He went on to hit .280 with 13 homers and 58 RBIs for the NL West champs and finished second among big-league rookies with 21 stolen bases. His .319 average on the road was the third-highest among all NL batters. Defensively, Barfield made nine errors in 684 chances over 147 games, and the Padres were reportedly encouraged by his increased awareness in the field. The Indians made the second-base vacancy their top offseason priority. Joe Inglett and Hector Luna shared the position after the Belliard trade, but both players are considered utility men. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Barfield will provide more stability, and, as a right-handed hitter, could possibly be slotted into the No. 2 spot of the lineup, between Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner, both lefties. He does need to improve his plate discipline, as he notched 81 strikeouts in '06, against just 30 walks. In trading the 25-year-old Kouzmanoff, the Indians are dealing from a position of depth. Kouzmanoff's primary position is third base, where the Indians expect top prospect Andy Marte to start next season. During the Arizona Fall League, Kouzmanoff has been playing first base, but that spot will likely go to some combination of Ryan Garko, Casey Blake and Victor Martinez in '07. Kouzmanoff tore up Minor League pitching this past season, batting .379 between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Buffalo. As a September callup to the Tribe, he made Major League history Sept. 2 in Texas, becoming the first player to hit a grand slam on the first big-league pitch he ever saw. Brown was the player to be named in the 2004 trade that sent Milton Bradley to the Dodgers. The Indians turned him into a reliever in the Minor Leagues, and he went 5-4 with five saves and a 2.60 ERA in 39 appearances for the Bisons. With the Indians, seven of his nine outings were scoreless, and he held batters to a .171 average. Brown was out of Minor League options, so the Indians had to make a decision on his future.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.