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March 3, 2010 at 9:34 AM

Cactus League opener today at 12:05 p.m. Pacific time

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It’s a beautiful, sunny day in Peoria as the San Francisco Giants prepare to take on the Mariners. Here are today’s starting lineups. We’ll see the IchiroChone Figgins tandem right off the bat facing that undersized Huskies product.
33 Aaron Rowand CF
14 Fred Lewis (L) LF
12 Nate Schierholtz (L) RF
17 Aubrey Huff (L) 1B
1 Bengie Molina C
20 John Bowker (L) DH
9 Kevin Frandsen 2B
29 Ryan Rohlinger 3B
2 Emmanuel Burriss (S) SS
55 Tim Lincecum (RHP)
51 Ichiro (L) RF
9 Chone Figgins (S) 2B
15 Milton Bradley (S) LF
24 Ken Griffey Jr. (L) DH
4 Jose Lopez 3B
13 Casey Kotchman (L) 1B
1 Eric Byrnes CF
50 Adam Moore C
2 Jack Wilson SS
58 Doug Fister (RHP)
Seems that some folks back east in New York too an interest in our story for this morning’s paper about the J.J. Putz trade, which I’ve officially trademarked as “The Gift that Keeps on Giving.” I’ll be going on Sirius satellite radio in New York to discuss the story in just over 90 minutes.
Now, some of you have written in to suggest the story was missing the point that Franklin Gutierrez was blocked in Cleveland by center fielder Grady Sizemore.

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Point taken, and believe me, I was well aware of that when I wrote the piece. I did not get into it for two reasons: one being newspaper space. We just don’t have tons of room to explore every side topic.
And No. 2, the more important point, Gutierrez may have been blocked in center, but he certainly was not blocked in right field — the position he played in 2008. As was pointed out a year ago on this blog by stats maven John Dewan, author of the Fielding Bible, Gutierrez had one of the best defensive seasons an outfielder could have in 2008 when he played right. Dewan told me right then and there that Gutierrez was already one of the premier outfielders in all of baseball.
Agree with him now?
Well, the Indians had to have known that. They are an organization that prides themselves on being stats oriented and avant garde. And they opted to go with onetime M’s outfielder Shin Soo-Choo over Gutierrez in right. Choo had a fantastic offensive season last year but was rated only about average defensively by Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR). Gutierrez was about an average offensive player — slightly above average actually — while having one of the greatest defensive seasons in history according to UZR.
Combine the two and Gutierrez comes out slightly ahead off Choo in total value.
Was this an accurate talent assessment? We’ll find out more as the years go on.
But right now, it’s looking like the Indians traded one of the best outfielders in baseball for a sub-.300 OBP infielder, Luis Valbuena, who could be platooned against lefties this year, and a decent-looking young reliever named Joe Smith.
So, while the Indians did not get ransacked like the Mets in this deal, do you think that represents fair trade value? I’m not about to pin anything on their chest. Sorry.
We’ll have Geoff Baker Live! tonight after the game. If you missed last night’s show, here’s the replay.

Comments | Topics: Chone Figgins


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