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Darwin Barney, core piece

Darwin Barney, core piece

I'm amazed at how far Darwin Barney has come.  At the time he was picked in the 4th round of the 2007 MLB Draft, I just sort of shrugged.  Utility guy, I thought.  Barney has always been a good defender.  The question was always his bat.

While the bat is still not his strong point, it's progressed enough to make him a viable starter, especially considering his defense.  But he's become more than just a viable starter according to the Cubs front office.

“We’re certainly farther along than we were last year at this time,” said Theo Epstein. “When we got here, we identified one core player [Starlin Castro] and now we can look around and see Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney, Jeff Samardzija , and others.”

We knew about the other guys, but I was a little surprised to see Barney on that list. Then again, for a front office that values defense up the middle and strong mental makeup, maybe I shouldn't be.  At a position that has evolved into one where we are seeing more and more offensive oriented players, such as Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia, Barney remains an old-school 2B who doesn't create runs with his bat, but rather saves them with his glove.  In fact, he saved 28 of them according to the fielding bible, 13 more than the next closest 2Bs.   There is no question he's an impact player on defense, especially because it comes at one of the up-the-middle positions

On offense, Barney has been below average.  Last year he had an RC+ of 75 (league average is 100).  So while he's saving far more runs than any other 2B, he's creating less runs than the average player.

On balance, however, he was an above average starter last season (2.5 WAR), something the Cubs haven't had a lot of lately, so maybe that alone is enough.  After all, you can't have a star at every position.

But perhaps there's still more to it.

The Cubs have a lot of hope invested in their young, still maturing SS Starlin Castro, who draws inspiration from his teammate.

"As happy as he is about the work he has done, we have spoken about who he wants to be in the future," Barney said "One of the best things he did say to me that made me feel really good is he said, 'Hey man, you're the best defensive player I have ever seen and I want to be like you.' Coming from a guy who has every tool in the bag that means a lot. We are good friends and I hope our relationship keeps getting better and better."

That relationship is valuable on the field.  Improving, even surviving, at the MLB level takes a lot of hard work. That isn't anything new to Barney.  He hasn't been blessed with the tools and natural abilities that Starlin Castro has.  He'd had to work for everything he has to this point.  Castro may not have had to work as hard as Barney to become an MLB player, but he does have to work every bit as hard to reach that next level.

"We decided early on in spring training that we were going to work hard together to be the best that we can up the middle," Barney said. "Our goal is to be the best around, and that is what we are working towards. In the future, we will have to get better together and hopefully that is what we can do."

So maybe the Cubs are doing more than looking at this as a piece-by-piece rebuild.  Perhaps they are also building in terms of units -- or at least tandems.  After all, when you're talking core pieces, you're talking about guys who fit the big picture.  Barney certainly seems to be that kind of player.

It may be that someday someone wrests the job from Barney -- and there are no shortage of candidates in the pipeline, but I wouldn't bet on that being very easy.  We tend to focus on Barney's offense and look for an upgrade, but considering everything else he brings to the table, that offense may have to be a substantial upgrade to unseat him.  And, here's a question you may not have thought much about:  If Barney solidifies his status as a core member next season, might they even consider extending him?

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  • I really think Darwin Barney's best days are still ahead of him. He's shown improved patience, and he keeps playing defense at an elite level. It would be stupid to think he isn't a part of the present, and at least a part of building towards the future.

  • In reply to BDweav2:

    I think he's going to continue getting better on offense. That defense may be tough to top, but we know he's going to be in the upper echelon year after year.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    The defense is absolutely going to be tough to top, but there won't be a steep drop at all. His offense is what intrigues me. Low BABIP, improved patience and power/.ISO shows me some development right into his prime. A cost effective second baseman allows for risks at other positions of need as well.

  • In reply to BDweav2:

    True, and some of his offense is made up by having a player in Starlin Castro who projects to have above average offesne for a SS. They balance out pretty well and I think both will continue to improve their shortcomings.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, I just don't see Barney as a core piece. My definition of a core player is an all-star level player, or at least above average for his position. Barney is an excellent defender , a middling offensive player, I just don t see him as a 15hr/280/350 offensive factor, which would make him a solid all-around big leaguer worth the big $ that comes from that status. Right now, Rizzo and Castro come the closest, and Rizzo hasn't completely sold me yet. Niether has Spellcheck, tho stuffwise he can be. Right now, Barney is a replacable player. Castro, Rizzo and Spellcheck are not.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    With Barney's defense, a 15hr/280/350 offensive factor wouldn't make him an all-star level player. It would make him a Hall-of-Fame level player.

    Barney's offense is very likely to improve in the coming years. If it doesn't, he will eventually be replaced by someone that is not quite as good defensively, but much, much better offensively.

    If Baez becomes MLB ready, and the Front Office sees him as a middle of the order hitter with the ability to be a good defensive shortstop, they will be faced with at lease a couple of options. Move Baez to third, or let Baez play short and move Castro to second. It will probably come down to whether the Front Office believes that the then third baseman is better overall than Barney.

    Of course, a third option would be to trade Baez, but if they were to go the trade route, I wouldn't be surprised if they decided to trade Castro instead. If he is performing as well as we hope, it would bring back just about anyone they wanted in return, much more than the unproven Baez would bring back.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Not that I disagree but if you recall, the Big Red Machine's center fielder was Cesar Geronimo, who was well below average with the bat but saved a helluva lot of runs with his glove.

  • He's also coming along with his offense. He obviously tapered off in September as he wasn't getting regular rest days en route to tying the MLB record for errorless games at second base.

    His BABIP was also a mediocre .273. While he's not a burner, he's not exactly the slowest guy on the team either. I personally think he can get to be about a league average offensive second baseman, which I would say would put him in the top 10 for MLB second baseman given how elite his defense is.

    Now, there may come a point where someone like Logan Watkins, Gioskar Amaya, Christian Villanueva, or even possibly Javier Baez surpasses Barney in value. But for now, it's hard to see the team trading him. They might just have a hidden gem.

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    If he can be at least an adequate hitter, it will be hard for somebody to take his spot.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Barney's hinted that he's coming back in '13 as an improved hitter. With his work ethic I'll be surprised if he doesn't.

    His best tool though is his headiness, and that's why he kind of reminds me of Glenn Beckert.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Pretty good comp. Could see him becoming that type of player. Like I said, "old school 2B".

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Finally, a Glenn Beckert comp. You ever heard him in the booth? But (he said butt)), my favorite Old Cub in the booth is Randy Hundtley - that guy has no filter, I cannot believe no one ever gave him a chance on either side of it.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Bec kert hit .342 in 1970 before breaking his thumb in Auigust. If Barney were 90% of that, he becomes an all-star. It would be nice to see it.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    There wasn't any year where Beckert was 90% of his 1970 year. You can't measure a player by an outlier career year. Beckert was a good player. But he wasn't a 340 player.

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    In reply to SFToby:

    Love that comparison! He really is a grinder and everything I read says his work ethic is top shelf. The one thing you feel confident in is that he is likely to continue to improve his offensive game becuase you know he will keep working at it non-stop. With his defensive prowess, if he can just bring up that offensive production a bit more each year, there is no reason he can't be a part of the core group going forward.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Agree on Barney being a hard piece at present to let go of,but he can be used as part of a pkg. to add to the youth nucleus coming up. 3B it seem like it took forever from Santo to the Ramirez era and he was acquired by trade.

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    In reply to TheRiot2:

    Barney's not even old, lol.

    He'll 28 by the time the cubs are competitve.

  • In reply to Corey Costello:

    Didn't say he was old. I inferred he could be a part of the PKG. to bring back a needed piece,perhaps a 3B prospect or an outfielder that's needed. Sori. is a goner and DeJesus is not a solution as a full timer out there. I would like to see young power hitting corner OF'ers along with a good defensive CF'er with enough bat to hold the job full time. At present I am less than enthused with our 2013 outfield. Help is at least a few years off IMO.

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    I would have titled the article Darwin Barney, a core piece?

    I could be totally wrong, have been before, but to me Darwin Barney is kind of like his generation's Orlando Cabrera or Orlando Hudson, A great clubhouse and glove guy who'll stay on a team until that team either has to pay him or finds something better.

    But I'd love to see him prove himself to be more than just another Orlando.

  • In reply to James Knott:

    I thought about the question mark too, actually. But I think Theo means it here. Maybe not for the next 10 years, but I think he'll stick around until someone takes it from him, and if Watkins doesn't do it, it may wind up being a few years.

  • In reply to James Knott:

    Both Orlando Cabrera and Orlando Hudson aren't exactly great clubhouse guys, aren't they?

    Hudson: http://www.gaslampball.com/2011/11/17/2569366/hudson-getting-a-bad-reputation-around-the-league-will-make-it-hard

    Cabrera was apparently bitter when Cleveland brought up a prospect to compete with him, and he also stormed the White Sox scoring booth after a game after he was charged with an error he thought he didn't deserve. Darwin Barney is not like that...

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    In reply to BDweav2:

    http://www.azcentral.com/sports/diamondbacks/cactus/articles/2012/03/31/20120331mlb-cactus-league-san-diego-padres-orlando-hudson.html?nclick_check=1

  • In reply to BDweav2:

    Barney once dove into the booth after a line drive, but that was all cleared-up later...

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    In reply to BDweav2:

    Yeah okay but he was good influence in the Clev before he turned paranoid. And I find the story of him charging into the booth after being charged with the error strangely indeering.

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    You know who's having a lousy day? Logan Watkins.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    He has to know that at the very least, he's got to fight hard to get that spot, and he almost certainly won't get a crack at it until 2014, barring injury or unexpected regression. If he's unable to win that job from Barney, I wouldn't be surprised to see him at least be a super utility guy who finds his ABs at different positions early in his career.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think Watkins will be in the bigs one way or another and either start or play a big role off the bench. Hard to picture him not making it. Works hard, great attitude.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    My jokes aside, next year is a very important developmental year for him. As you allude to, he just isn't one of those guys who is going to skip Theo's 500 AAA at-bats rule. While he's there, he needs to work on his approach against lefties. Right now, that is what has him looking more like super-sub than starting second baseman (either for the Cubs or someone else).

    In 2014, we'll see what we have in him. Like you, I think if can show the plate discipline he showed this year and do it from both sides of the plate, Theo, Jed, and Dale will find at bats for him.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    He's been a one level at a time player, so I don't think the Cubs will rush him. And agree that his issue is that approach against lefties. It may relegate him to a utility role until he improves that.

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    I like Watkins, he hit 9 homers last year which is two less than Barney hit his entire Minor League career. And he hits left handed and gets on base, stealth prospect.

  • Nice to see all the Barney love now that Theo outed him as a core piece!! I'm not worried about Watkins. Every winning team needs a Ben Zobrist. If he, in fact, becomes a big leaguer he'll be ours. Now lets snap Freddy Sanchez and Scotty Podsednik and put up a little cinderella piece in 2013. One time.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    •Snap up Freddy to play third of course...

  • In reply to Ben20:

    20 teams checked his meds apparently and wouldn't surprise me if the Cubs were one of those teams.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Freddy Sanchez is a poor defensive 2nd baseman. He doesn't have the arm or range for 3rd, and has no power.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Actually, UZR is a fan of his defense at third even though he hasn't spent any real time there since 2006. He could handle third three times a week. Thanks for the heads up about his power though! I thought he was a beast...

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Opinions are split on Barney, but he gets a lot of love here. People were hugely excited about this defense, the gold glove, the kind of player he is. It's hard to like his bat right now, though.

    We did have a poll and only 4% thought the Cubs should trade him. 54% overall considered him a long term piece, and the other 42% thought he was at least a stop gap piece.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Barney doesn't necessarily need to become a much better hitter, just being more consistent would be nice and it would help his stats quite a bit.

    For example, in 2011 he dropped off in the second half. He worked out all off-season with the intention that it wouldn't happen again, but it did.

    His August stats were not very good and September saw a rebound but his slugging percentage was only .306 for the month. He keeps tailing off during the second half which signals it's conditioning. Perhaps cutting back on his workout and practice in the second half would help.

    2012 splits:
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=barneda01&year=2012&t=b#month

    and if you look at his career splits, it's a huge dropoff - even in June, but he rebounds in July, then horrible August and September's. Look at his SLG for each month:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=barneda01&year=Career&t=b#month

    If he could just be more consistent that would be a huge improvement. His SLG in March/April, May, and July are all over .400 for his career.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Podsednik? Now that is intriguing, may be the perfect stopgap if he has anything left and solves the leadoff hole - and it is a hole. John, I think u could devote a whole post on where Starlin should be in the Batting order. I vote lead off.

  • Scotty Pods indeed! Athletic veteran who' s gonna give you a good AB and doesn't have to play every day. I think he' d be a nice fit. I kinda like Starlin in the two hole.

  • Good piece, John. Nice to see something on our 'forgotten' core piece (question mark or no?). I just looked up Barney's 2012 splits to see if Watkins might find some at bats given he hits left-handed. Turns out Barney is pretty similar against both LHP and RHP. But what kind of stood out was this line: .303/.353/.446 in 78 games. Those are his home numbers; pretty impressive! If he could repeat those on the road, we might have an all-star!

  • In reply to TokyoCraig:

    No question mark if Theo says it :) Nice find too. Geez, if he could hit that way on the home and the road, lock him up!

  • In reply to TokyoCraig:

    And thanks!

  • I think in today's game, your power and production need to come from the corners. 1B, 3B, LF, and RF. You "have" to be defensive minded up the middle. Catcher, 2B, SS, and CF.

    Any offense you get from those positions is bonus as long as it's not downright horrid. Wrigley is a bit unique because of the albatross that is right field, hence the signing of Nate S. I've very interested to see a pitching and defense oriented ballclub in 2013. I'm looking for the Cubs to surprise some people.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    I'm sure they have to be thinking that way. They're trying to build that middle fist and if Castillo is really your answer at catcher and Brett Jackson in CF, then you've got a pretty nice core up the middle to build around.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think that one reason that Hoyer is actively seeking top defensive players is that in the market place, offense is more expensive than defense. If you have to improve your team immediately, but want to put as much money as possible into the long-term arena, then upgrading your defense is a good way to get better cheaply.

    I think that as the minor league system starts to produce low cost top offensive players (why not dream big?), players like Barney will no longer be considered "core players". But that could be 3 or 4 years down the line.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    I'm "old school" I guess, but your first paragraph does not apply only "to today's game". I'm not taking exception to your statement, only expanding on it. Look at the 1969 era Cubs. Banks, Pepitone, Williams, Hickman, Santo at the corners and Beckert, Kessinger, Huntley (not Todd) and ugh ...I think I'll go with ...don young I quess, up the middle. (I'll rather say Aldolpho Phillips or Rick Monday} This is how I learned to build a team, but like I said, I'm old school (but with an open mind). Offense heavy on the corners and defense up the middle. 2 of the 4 "up the middle" guys should have a fair measure of offensive skills. Your weakest hitter should be able to at least get the bat on the ball and advance a base runner and your weakest fielder should be able to knock a batted ball down and throw out a base runner or track down a fly ball and catch it.

  • In reply to Moonlight:

    With improved testing for PED's the 'old school' way to build a team has become more legit and so has Barney. Watkins as well.

  • Oh man, I wanted to go to bed an hour ago. Good comments (as usual) kept me up. Feeling a bit better tonight than last night but still need my rest!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    We need you to get better John, spring training is right around the corner, lots of stories and rumors to write.
    What, no spring training ticker countdown?
    Big year for Barney this year, I can't see him having a better year on D in 2013 which tells me he better improve his offense because you know he reads Cubs Den so he knows about all the minor league compition knocking on the door. Do you know if he is in AZ specificaly working on his offense? Working with any guru? Strength coach, old Colvin Camp?
    Hope you feel better soon, local watering holes miss you.

  • In reply to Rock:

    Haha! Thanks Rock!

    I don't know if he's already down there, but it wouldn't surprise me if he were.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    i hate when Darwin does that!

  • Oh. My bad.

  • I believe Theo is building up Barney to show confidence in him and to raise his value. Unless Barney improves his OBP, he will be unseated by an above average fielding player who is a plus offensively. Watkins is at least a year away and others are 2+ years away from taking over 2B.

    Next off-season, Barney becomes arbitration eligible and his cost will be going up, but will acceptable for at least the first year or two of arbitration. But fast forward to year 3 of arbitration and to his free agency and his cost will outweigh his production over a younger cost controlled option, that has above average fielding and a plus bat.

    Now, if Barney can get the OBP up and hit closer to 300 than 250, he will be around for a long time. But, 1 bad year offensively, and he will have very little value on the trade market. I feel Theo will sell high on Barney if given the chance to get a return, that is in-line with trading a "core" player.

  • In reply to Cubs Baseball:

    I'm not sure our front office is always so calculating. I don't think everything they do is rooted in some sort of deception. That would get old fast. There needs to be some transparency with players if you want them to trust you and ultimately respect you.

    Besides, there's not going to be teams giving a bunch back for Barney anyway. His value to the Cubs right now is probably higher than it is in general, so I don't think there's a sell high situation here.

  • I thought Barney should hit for a better average, considering he only strikes out 10% of the time. Someone with that much contact should be about a .280-.290 hitter. I think that would put him in the .330 obp range. I would love that production from him for the next couple years.

  • In reply to Mitchener:

    Probably needs to make more consistent hard contact. Wont get a lot of IF hits.

  • Good article John. I agree that it doesn't have to Barney vs. Watkins. Give LW two years and see where he is then. It's always nice to have surplus. I see Barney as the type of piece every playoff team seems to have that comes up with that one huge run saving play that swings momentum their way and they over analyze the next day on Sportscenter.

  • I really like Darwin. Two years ago he came up to play 2B while being a SS in the minors. He did a very creditable job considering he had to learn a new position. His 2nd full year was last year and his Defensive ability just exploded. This will be his 3rd full year and with his work ethics I am guessing his Offense will improve. I would not be surprised if his BA goes up to .290/.300. I don't expect much power but with a decent average and elite defense, he will be a keeper (core player).

    I really like Logan too. His speed, defense and OBP last year of .380/.390 are a very good combo. Having two talented players competing for one spot makes them both better and that can only help the Cubs.

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    I really do think Barney can be an important part of the next Cubs playoff team. His defense is top notch and I'm buying into the idea of his bat progressing a bit more. That said, I never see him as more than a league avg offensive middle infielder. He seems to have all the leadership skills and traits needed on a contending baseball team. I would love to see him hold down the fort at 2B until the A ball kids are ready in 2015-2016. At that point, if an upgrade is available (Baez, Castro moving over, FA signing, ect...) could Barney be counted on as a bench player? I feel he does everything you want from that role. He plays great D, has a good approach at the dish, leadership, and from everything I've read he seems to already have a veteran presence about him. I know it's impossible to project that far in advance with baseball, but at that point do you guys see Barney as a league starter that would flock for more money and a guaranteed starting spot or could you see him accepting a bench role while trying to bring chicago a championship?

  • The comps to the Orlando's is interesting. Barney is not a guy you want to have to pay like a top 5 second baseman, even if he is. The later contracts for Hudson were gruesome. So a 4 year extension now might make sense. It would be cheap and you will be getting his best years. By the time its over you can let him move on and hopefully the system will be ready to fill that void.

  • In reply to RTGrules:

    I think that's what I have the biggest issue, that through arb he may start pricing himself out and why an extension may be a good idea.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    So what kind of extension are we talking here? I forget how many millions 1 WAR costs. Would you expect any savings from the small offense? Over/under at $6 million per year?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I like it too. If he gets Wally Pipped down the road he will be an attractive affordable trade piece for a competitive team in need of a front line 2b and not as costly to keep as a backup.

  • I believe Theo is building up Barney value for a mid season trade!.....if Watkins can play 2nd, Barney would be a great trade chip for pitching........Theo is not falling in love with his average players......Barney is average.......he is looking to trade from strength.....there are two prospects who will push Barney off 2nd.......what Theo is looking for that Barney does not have, and should have, is speed and more power.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I agree it's Theo building up a player. I am not a Barney fan at all so I hope Watkins takes his place soon.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Barney is not a trade chip for pitching. And they're not going to just drop Watkins into a big league middle infield without a full/nearly full season at AAA and a two month trial run in the show.

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    In reply to Ben20:

    Also, who's going to give up decent pitching prospects for Barney right now? I just don't see the demand. I think a lot of teams believe they can develop their own Darwin Barney and even his defense they attribute to the Cubs' positioning skills. Of course, if it's just positioning, you'd think everyone could do it, but whatever.

  • I see Barney as the kind of player who will be at his best for the biggest games. He would 'step up' for the push to the playoffs and the post season. He is not just steady, but at his best when it counts the most. It is a mentality some competitors have and he strikes me as one.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Well said, 44Slug. He's a guy you can win with.

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    I like Barney, and I do like WAR....for offense. I've always though that defensive WAR numbers are suspect, and way over-inflated one way or the other

    By WAR, Barney was Cubs MVP last year, and the 16th best position player in the National League, ahead of players like Matt Holliday, Ryan ZImmerman, Carlos Beltran, Matt Kemp, etc.

    GMs pay for offensive WAR; either there is a market inefficiency to exploit here, or defensive WAR isn't very valid

  • In reply to Zonk:

    If you're having a problem with defensive metrics, maybe this interview with Bill James will help:

    http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=25543673

  • I was thinking about what Theo said. He sees core players in Starlin, Rizzo, Barney, Shark and others. I think Wellington C is probably who he is seeing as another core player. Looks like the IF is almost all core players. Things are definitely looking up.

  • Interestingly, Barney hit .303 at home last year and only .206 away. I can understand him hitting more homers at Wrigley -- in fact all 7 of his HRs came at home last year. But, John, what could account for a 100 point difference in his home vs. away batting average?

  • In another topic, LaRoche just resigned with the Nats. They don't need Michael Morse. Would be a good fit for the right-handed power bat the Cubs need. One year left at 6.5. Marmol and cash for Morse...does this get it done? Do the Nats need (or could they use) Marmol?

  • In reply to apalifer:

    Agreed. Morse would look good in RF or LF for the Cubs. Don't think the Nats would be interested in Marmol.

  • The Nats are said to be looking for pitching prospects, LH relief pitching or rotation depth in return for Morse.

  • John,

    Off-topic, but have you heard about the rumor of a three team trade for Porcello? Brett @ Bleacher Nation was talking about it. Third team being the Orioles, Tigers wanting Hardy, Orioles supposedly getting pitching from the Cubs. Source is some reporter in Baltimore I think.

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    Don't believe all the rumors you see at other Cub 'sites.

  • By definition, I don't believe "rumors."

    Which is why I came to the one trusted source for Cubs news!

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    Cubs Den is the best choice.

  • The Cubs have plenty of starters that the Nats might consider rotation depth.

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    I'll try this again, my last post didn't appear.

    Barney tails off in the second half (and mysteriously in June) every year. His career SLG is over .400 for March/April, May, and July. But it's .300 (or less) for June, August, and Sept/Oct.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=barneda01&year=Career&t=b#month

    It might be better in July because he gets a short break during the All Star week. Just a theory. No other explanation for why he wears down every June and bounces back in July (and only 2 years of stats to go by), but August and September are consistently bad. If he can only be more consistent he will put up far better stats, but the good news is he just turned 27, he should be going into his peak years.

  • I am all for keeping Barney and extending him. His defense up the middle, plus repoire with Castro is a valuable commodity for us. His value to other teams may not be as high. The thing to ask yourself though is what the alternatives are. I took a look at 2nd basemen throughout the league, and then considered that 2015 will be the year we are most likely to compete. I removed any 2nd basemen over 30 (although Cano at 32 sounds pretty good, but expensive. Could we really pry him from the Yanks anyway? Same for a 33 year old Brandon Phillips) Here is a list of the 2nd basemen that will be under 30 in 2015 with their ages during that season:
    Gordon Beckam (28), Jason Kipnis (27), Dustin Ackley (26), Logan Forsythe (27), D.J. LeMahieu (26), Jemile Weeks (27), Danny Espinosa (27), Jose Altuve (24), Neil Walker (29).

    Which of these guys would you want? If any of them are better than Barney, what would it cost to get them? Is it worth it?

    I say let one of the young kids come up and challenge Barney. His offense sticks out like a sore thumb right now only because our offense is pretty offensive. The front office has shown that they can patch together a pretty decent rotation and bullpen. Once the bats come up and we add a frontline starter, Barney is going to be the guy you want in the playoffs up the middle when you desperately need a double play. There will be plenty of other guys to keep us in the game with their pop. And who knows, Barney has surprised us all before, maybe his offense improves and he surprises us all again...

    Our other choices are

  • In other Cub-related news, the Phillies are no longer looking for an outfielder. The Cubs might have to start telling teams that they'll include even more cash than has been rumored along with Soriano in order to facilitate a trade.

  • If we don't get fair value for him, then we will keep him. We don't give away assets for free.

  • I don't think the Cubs would be interested in Morse even though they could use a righty bat. His defense is horrible and I just don't think they would entertain the bad defense.

  • In reply to cubman:

    Morse's d' is comparable to Soriano's.

  • John, hope you're health is gettin' back to 100%.

    Teriffic article, very honest,..,no sugar-coating. For me, MY LOW POINT is when he comes to bat when we need an extra-base hit.

    HIGH POINT is when we just need to get on or a single against a ! or 2 level pitcher..,he's a grinder.

    And yes..,replacing him will probably always be on our minds---but lets hope he just gets a little better each year..,just like the rest of the TEAM!!!!!

    Thoughts??

  • I hear the Cubs might be dickerin' about Porcello?, need another team (Bal.) to help out is part of the rumor. Could take him or leave him depending on the "hit", though he is a young guy.

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    I think the cubs should keep Barney for the near future and possibly longer....I"d sign him to a 4 year deal. He has the kind of attitude and defence the new "Cubs way" is all about. His offence will only improve if not stay the same. All we need from him is great D and a few timely hits to help us win the World Series! That's all we all want here....Same mission

    Btw, first post and enjoy all the articles and responses I see here.

  • Like the lovin' coming from the FO regarding Barney. He is probably the best overall second base player the Cubs have had in over 20 years, after all. That may be more of an inditement of the Cubs ability to develop second basemen over the years than it is praise for Darwin, but I am definitely in the camp that thinks he is an above average 2Ber and a winner to boot.

    Although his slugging #s haven't increased much in the last year, that is mainly because his average dipped. His extra base & homer #s definitely increased, and so will his slugging if he brings the average back up to .280ish, which I believe will happen next year.

    It's been commented that his hitting declines in the 2nd half of seasons, but last year the Cubs stunk so bad most young players would be affected by the chronic losing. Rizzo suffered a bit there, too. We'll have a better idea next year. I'm anticipating that his hitting will be more consistent throughout the year, but time will tell.

    He's only 27, too, and developed in-house, so to speak. Let's not be so quick to jettison him for minor leaguers who will probably never start in the MLB anyway.
    He's a keeper.

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    I like Barney, but I have to agree that maybe the FO wants the appearance that they like him as well for future trade talks.

    While he might incrementally improve him BA with some work, his OBP is what concerns me.

    Furthermore, I disagree that he's worth more to the Cubs than other teams. We have plenty of defense. Our issue is that we can't hit the ball.

    Plenty of teams with far more overall talent than us could use some defense up the middle. There's an article on ESPN right now about how atrocious the Cardinals up the middle D is, and how much it hurts the talent they have on the corners, catching, and OF.

    I'd happily trade Darwin for Carlos Martinez!

    And just to play devils advocate... If Barney regresses, At all, at the plate then he has no worth to anyone. Not even the Cubs.

    Honestly, a 2.5 WAR AMS and a gold glove? I say we're selling high.

    Hitting is probably the toughest thing to learn and improve on inn the majors. There's tons of defensive wizards that never make the show because they can't put a bat on a ball. Let's get something from him while there's possibly something to get.

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