While looking through highlights of Clint Barmes and Bill Hall I wondered if we were focusing on the wrong aspect of their game in our analysis. Sure Ed Wade is going to say it's for offense but that's really just a PR move. They could sign any right handed hitter and I'm sure the words Crawford and Boxes would be sprinkled through out the press conference.
If the Astros were truly interested in adding punch to the lineup then why (if you believe the reports) was their first choice for second base Orlando Hudson, who slugged .372 last season. Hall slugged .456, had more home runs, runs batted in, and for those more interested in advanced statistics his wOBA was 22 points higher than Hudson's. On top of that Hall is also two years younger.
Defense was the focus not the offense.
While Hall is very athletic and has shown to be very valuable defensively at multiple positions, Hudson is one of the top, if not the top, defensive second baseman in the big leagues. His 17 defensive runs saved (DRS) lead the majors last season.
The recent acquisition of Clint Barmes just furthers the argument. I'm sorry a player with a career 75 OPS+ is not going to improve the offense by leaps and bounds. No matter how many short porch references are dropped in his press conference. What he does provide is an upgrade over Tommy Manzella both offensively, and maybe more importantly defensively.
Due to the presence of Troy Tulowitzki time at short for Barmes was limited. He did however manage to play 49 games there with 39 of those being starts. He posted well above average numbers in both UZR and DRS. His 25 out of zone plays was only four behind Manzella who had 29, in more games. Meaning Barmes has shown a bit more range and is considered to be above average while Manzella is average to below average defensively. However with only 82 games 75 of them starts it's a small sample size defensively for Manzella and he could improve further, but it appears the Astros are willing to move on and go with the more proven Barmes.
What's this mean?
Well for those of you hoping for a more competitive team next year, it appears the Astros are attempting to do just that. Albeit through defense not offense. If they improve the offense it's more of a bonus rather than the goal.