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In the immediate aftermath of Thursday's trade that sent him from the Rockies to the Houston Astros, Clint Barmes properly focused on the road ahead.
"It's going to be exciting to see how it all unfolds," Barmes said on a conference call after Colorado exchanged him for right-hander Felipe Paulino.
But when he was asked to reflect on his tenure with the organization that had employed him through his entire 11-year professional career, Barmes delivered a final, sincere salute.
The fans, he said, "have been nothing but great here."
The team, he added, was top-notch.
"I don't have one bad thing to say about the Rockies, the organization and all the people that worked over there," Barmes said. "They made it a pleasure for me showing up every day. I'm definitely going to miss my teammates, probably more so than anything. There's a core group of guys over there I spent a lot of my time playing with that it's going to be tough to separate from. But I'm very excited to meet my new teammates and meet some new faces."
Colorado's freshest face, Paulino, could fit various needs given his experience as a starter and reliever. The 27-year-old is known for his impressive velocity, as his 187 strikeouts in 208 1/3 career innings demonstrate. He also has a reputation for inconsistency, as shown by his 6-21 record, 5.83 ERA and 90 walks in 47 games, including 34 starts.
A member of Houston's season-opening rotation this year, Paulino recorded a 3.82 ERA while limiting opponents to a .237 batting average in his first 12 starts. But he went 1-7 in that span and ultimately finished 1-9 due largely to poor run support. The 2.93 runs Houston averaged behind Paulino was the third-lowest figure for a pitcher with at least 14 starts.
The transaction hastened what appeared to be an inevitable change of address for Barmes, 31. It had been widely speculated that the Rockies would not tender him a contract. Barmes earned $3.33 million this season and remained eligible for salary arbitration.
Since multiple teams reportedly expressed interest in Barmes, who can play shortstop and second base, the Astros took a proactive approach rather than wait for Colorado to cast him into free agency.
"We're excited to add Clint to our club," Houston general manager Ed Wade told Houston-area reporters. "He's a plus defensive player at two positions, has gap and some home run power and has great makeup. It's tough to give up a power arm like Felipe's, but Clint fits a need that we had to address."
Barmes was pleased to hear from Wade and Houston manager Brad Mills that he would play mostly shortstop, the position he lost to Troy Tulowitzki in 2007.
"I feel like I'm an everyday shortstop," said Barmes, who finished eighth in the National League Rookie of the Year balloting after hitting .289 in 2005. "I've always believed that. Playing with the Rockies these last couple of years, playing with Tulowitzki up the middle, I've always kind of looked at myself as a shortstop playing second base. I'm just very excited to get the opportunity to play on that side of the field again."
Barmes hit .254 with 61 home runs and 285 RBIs in 665 games spanning all or part of eight seasons with Colorado. As has been the case with some Rockies, his production dipped away from Coors Field.
In Colorado, he hit .285 with 35 homers, 158 RBIs and a .793 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage), compared to .224, 26, 127 and .618 on the road. The right-handed batter followed a strong 2009 performance (23 homers, 32 doubles, 76 RBIs) by hitting .235 with 21 doubles, eight homers and 50 RBIs.
He's a career .250 hitter (13-for-52) at Houston's Minute Maid Park with four doubles, two triples and one homer.
"To be honest with you, I've been a little bit inconsistent with my numbers these last few years at the Major League level," Barmes said. "But I definitely know I'm going to compete and I'm going to help the team more than I'm going to hurt them."