KEVIN KOUZMANOFF TRADED TO OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Some recent update on Macedonian Major League Baseball player Kevin Kouzmanoff.
Kevin Kouzmanoff admitted Saturday he's been a long-time admirer of Eric Chavez.Now, he's headed to Oakland to possibly serve as his replacement.
The Athletics and Padres completed a four-player deal on Saturday, one that sent Kouzmanoff and Minor League infielder Eric Sogard to Oakland in exchange for outfielders Scott Hairston and Aaron Cunningham.
The slick-fielding Kouzmanoff -- who has also displayed pretty good power numbers despite playing three years at the pitcher-friendly PETCO Park -- fills a position of dire need for the A's, who don't believe Chavez -- coming off two back surgeries -- can play third base on an everyday basis anymore.
"Eric's a heck of a ballplayer, man," Kouzmanoff said in a conference call. "I've got some competition, you know? And he's actually been one of my favorite players to watch. I've admired him for a long time and love his game, love watching him play. It'll be exciting to get next to him and take some swings with him."
Kouzmanoff, going into his fifth season in the Majors, batted .255 with 18 homers and a career-high 88 RBIs in 141 games for the Padres this past season. The 28-year-old, originally from Newport Beach, Calif., was a sixth-round Draft pick by the Indians in 2003 and had a 16-game stint with them as a rookie in '06.
He was then traded to the Padres that offseason, and in his three years in San Diego, he's hit .263 while averaging 20 homers, 82 RBIs and 147 games each season.
Like Chavez, Kouzmanoff is pretty good with the glove, too.
The right-handed-hitting third baseman committed just three errors at the hot corner in 2009, setting a National League record for fielding percentage for a third baseman at .990.
Each year in the big leagues, Kouzmanoff's fielding percentage has increased, from .857 in 2006, to .932 in '07, .974 in '08 and the NL record in '09.
"Years ago, when I first got into pro ball, I was told I had a good bat but I was a little rocky defensively," said Kouzmanoff, who's arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason. "As soon as I heard that, I realized there was another aspect to my game I needed to work on, so I've been working just on my defense hard for years now, and I think it's finally starting to pay off now with a lot of reps."