June 20, 2007

News of the Day: Barrett Traded

Michael Barrett is no longer a Chicago Cub; he was traded along with some cash to the Padres today for backup catcher Rob Bowen and an outfield prospect, Kyler Burke. Barrett was obviously traded for his inability to get along with pitchers, having fights with Carlos Zambrano and Rich Hill just this month. And I'm sure his .307 OBP didn't really help his cause, either.

Offensively, Barrett does still have some value. Barrett put up a terrific .307/.368/.517 line last year, and he probably can turn things around despite his slow start. Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projection system thought he would post a .834 OPS, exatly 100 points better than he's doing right now. PETCO Park isn't the best place for him to boost his raw numbers, but overall his bat is still useful. His glove...not so much. Barrett is certainly one of the five worst defensive catchers in the game right now, and he probably has an argument to be #1. Apparently Barrett will get most of the starts behind the plate for the Padres, though they may get frustrated with his defense fairly soon.

Chicago now has three catchers; Bowen, Koyie Hill, and Henry Blanco (currently on the DL). None of these three are very good options; it won't really matter much who they'll play there. Blanco and Bowen are both very good defensively but mediocre at best at the plate.

Here's what MLB Trade Rumors had to say about Burke:
Burke, 19, was drafted 35th overall out of high school last year based on his huge power potential and athleticism. He hasn't shown anything against pro pitching yet. Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus says Burke has an "enormous ceiling" with a strong right field arm. This is an upside play by Jim Hendry - Burke could be a star or a complete bust.

Overall, I'm not sure who to give the edge to in this trade...I think the Padres come out ahead in terms of talent, but the Cubs have to be very happy to get a prospect with Burke's upside, given that they were obviously unhappy with Barrett in the clubhouse.

By the way, I never mentioned this earlier...but Chone Figgins hit a walk-off triple to give the Angels a win to cap his 6-for-6 game against the Astros. Think about it - how hard is it to hit a walk-off triple? You have to hit the ball in a place where it's a stand-up triple and you have to reach third base before the runner on first crosses home. I guess the other way you could do it is by hitting a triple, then scoring the winning run on a bad throw to third by the outfielder. Either way, it seems like it should be very rare.

Well, Jayson Stark answered that question in today's blog (the first time I've ever gotten my name into a Useless Info article!) and the answer is, it isn't as rare as you'd think.

But the question we did get -- from two loyal readers (Scott Sukenick and Kevin Whitaker) -- was this: How rare is a walkoff triple?

Well, theoretically, it is tough to hit one. So we checked. But it turns out it isn't as rare as you'd think. We found a bunch of them in the way-back machine -- and nine others just in the last decade (four by the Twins alone). Here are the five most recent before Figgins did it:

Grady Sizemore (versus Ambiorix Burgos) on Aug. 11, 2006
Lew Ford (versus Justin Duchscherer) on Aug. 3, 2005
Quinton McCracken (versus Todd Jones) on July 18, 2005
Jim Edmonds (versus Scott Service) on Sept. 17, 2004
Marquis Grissom (versus Matt Mantei) on May 27, 2003

Wow. I would have certainly expected that it would be much rarer than that. But that's what statistics are for...

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