Ed Wade and Dan O’Dowd combined for a straightforward deal of major leaguers.
Clint Barmes turns 32 in early March. It’s a little early to start setting depth charts, but one has to figure Barmes will be under serious consideration to start at shortstop in place of Tommy Manzella and Angel Sanchez. Part of that consideration may stem from his price tag (more than $4 million) which could have led to a non-tender from Colorado. The book on Barmes begins and ends with defense since he profiles as a plus defender at either middle infield position. His leather is slick enough that Colorado kept him at short during the 2006 season despite racking up -41.7 park-adjusted batting runs.
There are few tools in Barmes’ offensive shed. He rejects the theory of walks (although 8.1% last season did represent a career high by a fair margin) and his aggressive approach leads to more strikeouts than one would come to expect from a light-hitting defensive-first (and usually only) middle infielder. When Barmes does make contact, the ball is usually going places by air delivery (career flyball rate of roughly 48%). That approach leads to home runs and extra bases in Coors, but that skill set could take some knocks with a transition to a lesser hitting environment.
The upside with Barmes is that he will hit lefties (wRC+ 2010-2008: 90, 102, and 137). The downside is that he will not hit righties (wRC+ 2010-2008: 56, 76, and 85). Right-handers dominate the league’s starting pitching population, which explains Barmes’ overall unimpressive numbers (WRC+ 2010-2008: 67, 80, and 102). He’d make a nice platoon candidate, but as a fulltime starter expect a bumpy offensive line come year’s end.
In exchange, the Astros send Felipe Paulino to Colorado. The 27-year-old has a career FIP of 4.51 and xFIP of 4.37. His ERA, though, is 5.83. He’s struggled with home runs, walks, and hits at various points in his major league career despite a blazing fastball (that averaged 95 miles per hour last season) and an effective slider. Paulino’s struggles have come mostly against lefties, who own a collective .331/.420/.561 line against him through his career. Paulino has kept righties in check better (.268/.326/.415) which suggests his true calling might be that of a middle reliever.
Houston will be mocked for this trade to various degrees. Not because they gave up a high-upside arm like Paulino, but because they did so to acquire a mediocre talent that might have been available at a lesser cost in a matter of weeks. As it stands, Colorado did well to get something in return for Barmes, and particularly well for the return to have upside.
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