Shapiro can’t win

Indians fans crack me up sometimes.

The general opinion on yesterday’s trade of Kevin Kouzmanoff and Andrew Brown for Josh Barfield seems to be split: some love the move, some hate it. Mike in Chicago commented on one of our threads that Shapiro has once again given up too much talent for “an upside guy that hasnít proven anything.”

Um…actually, Barfield proved that he can hit, run and field at the big league level — .280 with 13 homers, 21 steals and a .987 fielding percentage that ranked third in the National League, all as a 23-year-old rookie. Plus he had a very good minor league career, hitting for average and a bit of power (15-plus homers from 2003-’05) while stealing bases and even taking some walks (an average of 50 per year from 2003-05).

Meanwhile, I don’t see anything overly impressive about Kouz’s minor league numbers. Granted, the kid can obviously hit (.379 with 22 homers combined between AA and AAA last year), but so can Barfield, plus Barfield plays exceptional defense and he can run. Those traits are much more valuable in a middle infielder than they are in a corner infielder.

Let’s turn this around for a second and say the Indians had Barfield last year as a rookie and the Padres had Kouz. If Shapiro dealt Barfield for Kouz, people like Mike in Chicago would be bitching about Shapiro dealing a proven talent in Barfield for an upside kid in Kouz. It’s true. I bet Mike in Chicago hated the Coco/Marte trade too.

It’s fun to play GM when a deal like this goes down, but some people love to hate no matter the situation. You’ve got to give talent to get talent, and you deal from your strengths to shore up weaknesses. Despite some people’s opinions, the Tribe believes Andy Marte has a chance to be special offensively and defensively, and they have several guys to play first base. Kouz was excess, and therefore a prime bargaining chip. Shapiro did an outstanding job using that chip to plug a gaping hole at 2B with a young, proven talent who will instantly add some much-needed speed to the lineup. Plus, he did it without eating up any of the payroll, which means he can now focus his resources on shoring up the bullpen and adding another quality right-handed power bat.

Kouz could be good, but Barfield already is. So what’s the problem?

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