Baseball can be a cruel, cruel game.
Just take the case of Josh Barfield.
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In 2006 Barfield burst onto the major league level with the San Diego Padres, hitting .280 with 13 home runs and 21 stolen bases. He played in 150 games and at 23 years old and the son of former major league star Jesse Barfield, the future seemed very bright for the Padres second baseman.
That off-season, he was dealt to Cleveland for Kevin Kouzmanoff and a pitcher and designated the starting second baseman for the Tribe. Little could he know how good he had it in 2006. All of those numbers I mentioned above? Never topped at the major league level. In fact, he would play 130 games in 2007 for the Indians, then just 12 and 17 in the subsequent two years and be out of major league baseball.
He floated around the minors for a few years after that, re-signing with the Padres in 2010 and playing in AAA Portland. Then he went to the Philadelphia organization where he hit .257 in over 100 games. He followed that with a year in AA for Baltimore where he became more of a utility every-man but it still never quite worked out. He last played in independent league baseball in 2013. He was out of professional baseball by his 31st birthday.
Barfield fit the role of a great role player who didn’t do anything to hurt his case at playing everybody, he just didn’t necessarily really excite you. Keep in mind in 2007 the Padres second basemen were Marcus Giles and Geoff Blum, with Marcus hitting just .229. That is an example of hurting your case. He asks the question of what if the Padres hadn’t traded him after a good season. Every once in awhile these stories do have happy endings. Heck, the guy he was traded for Kouzmanoff had a great comeback story over the last couple of years with some big hits for the Rangers.
The Padres have the Jason Lane story, he started as an outfielder in the World Series and now is a pitcher. Yet for every story where the perseverance pays off – there are the Dontrelle Willis and Josh Barfield’s where they never get that manager’s phone call.
He was criticized for his throwing arm at second base, where the Padres were low in the rankings for double play depth, but certainly had much better range and general athleticism than the muscular statuesque Giles. Yet in 2006 defense was only creeping into teams thinking about how they constructed their teams and how much weight to put on it.
The name of the game was all about offense, and the Padres were shooting for a three-peat in 2007. They wanted a shiny new third baseman in Kouzmanoff and sexy power option at second in Giles – Barfield had to go.
In many ways, the Padres still actually got the better end of the trade, as Kouzmanoff is remembered as a productive hitter though disappointing his power never really took off. It has been awhile since the Padres have had a defensive whiz at second base, but Barfield was a fun one to watch in one solid rookie season.