Second Base Short And Long Term Forecast

Second Base Short And Long Term Forecast

As far as offense is concerned second base has been a black hole for the Cubs for a few years now. Incumbent Darwin Barney brings a plus plus glove to the table but his offensive contributions leave something to be desired. 2012 stands as his best season in MLB as he posted a 3.1 WARP on the strength of his defense but he was a major negative last year as his offense completely collapsed and the glove couldn't carry the bat.

Chart Here are the 2B over the past 13 years who carried an OPS Less than or equal to Barney's career .628 mark and earned 500+ PAs

Name PA OPS Team Age
Dustin Ackley 668 .622 SEA 24
Darwin Barney 555 .569 CHC 27
Alex Cora 514 .625 LAD 27
Jemile Weeks 511 .609 OAK 25
Brent Abernathy 504 .599 TBD 24

Three of these guys have stories who are unfinished, Cora stuck around as a UTL guy and Abernathy never really played regularly after his 504 PA season.

It's an open question as to whether Barney's glove makes up for the punchless bat even when he is hitting in the .250 range. Barney doesn't get on base and he has an ISO that hovers around the .050-.100 range. A team with a much better offense could stand to sacrifice a lineup slot for defense especially at the keystone where offensive production is a bit limited once you get past the top players.

The Cubs, however, are offensively limited at too many positions to carry Barney and in the long term there's a long list of players who will be coming up the pipeline and will need playing time. Add in the Emilio Bonifacio signing and there's a real situation brewing at 2B.

There are some important factors to note here:

  • Barney will make 2.3MM in 2014 as the Cubs avoided arbitration with him by settling for a one year 2.3MM deal.
  • Bonifacio is signed to a minor league contract and can play at other positions.
  • The Cubs don't have a real lead-off hitter. That's a role Bonifacio can fill if he makes the team.
  • Mike Olt has a pretty good shot at making the team out of Spring Training which would push Luis Valbuena elsewhere.
  • Arismendy Alcantara and Javier Baez are all currently infielders and if all goes well, they will push for MLB playing time once the Super-2 date passes.
  • Logan Watkins still exists.

With regards to 2014, I doubt the Cubs are interested in paying Barney 2.3MM to be a super utility player who comes off the bench as a defensive replacement or gets a few spot starts here and there. I also think the Cubs would be more than thrilled if Emilio Bonifacio made the team. We've profiled him a bit before but he can play three positions and he steals bases at a high percentage. The big question will be if he can get on base enough to steal those bases.

Similarly, Mike Olt's progress will also be a key factor regarding second base. If he shows that his vision issues are behind him he will earn the thirdbase job over Valbuena by virtue of his bat and his glove. That could start a domino effect which features split playing time for Darwin Barney and Luis Valbuena at second.

Then there's Logan Watkins, who is an interesting player with some patience, pop and utility who should merit at least some playing time in 2014. He can play a few different positions as well in the Bonifacio mold.

I think it's likely that Barney will split time with someone in 2014, who it is depends on Olt and Bonifacio's performance. In the larger picture I think it's also becoming increasingly clear that Barney will not be a starter on the next Cubs playoff team.

The Cubs have a lot of infield prospects who will be vying for playing time in what could be a suddenly crowded picture. Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara, and even Christian Villanueva will all be making their cases soon for playingtime. Alcantara is a 2B right now and Chicago has tossed around the idea of playing Baez at second a little bit this year. All of that leaves Darwin out in the cold a bit. Even if the Cubs trade or move Starlin Castro off shortstop to accommodate Baez it's still unlikely that Barney will find playing time at the keystone as a regular.

Long term the position is up in the air. The game of musical infielders will become clearer in the coming years as prospects come up and either fail or succeed and the current roster continues to turn over as the rebuilding effort takes shape.


Filed under: Analysis

Tags: Baseball, Cubs, second base


Leave a comment
  • I am a Barney fan,.... in that his presence in the infield on defense does seem to anchor the defense - at least it did last season AFTER Barney came back from his season-starting stint on the DL.

    Barney hitting ~0.250 with an OBP of ~0.300 would be acceptable on a team with a better offense. But that ain't happening for our Cubs at least to start out 2014. So,.... what's to do?

    AND it get more complex, and less favorable to Barney holding down the job IF Olt breaks camp for Wrigley in April. The dominos start to fall if/when that happens.

  • let Alcantara get a bit more seasoning and its settled . Baez at SS Castro traded for a TOR arm, Olt at 3rd, Bryant in LF , log jam fixed

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Castro won't bring back a TOR arm. Baez might.....but that's a tough call.

    If everyone hits, someone is going to get traded for sure

  • In reply to Zonk:

    disagree there if Cubs offered Castro to Mets right now I bet they could get Syndergaard / Montero back with the black hole at SS on that team

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Looks right to me, except for the June draft. I hope there is an arm like Beede that projects at least as a #2 SP, that would give the FO confidence. But it also may be a situation where Hoffman or Trea Turner are the picks. If so, I really think that Trea Turner, if still on the board, will be chosen. However, he may go top 3 as well.

    I don't know if Turner is better than Castro ceiling wise on defense. I know he is a rare talent. Castro may provide a good batting average, and perhaps at best an average glove. Turner might be better than that with a higher OBP, speed, top of the order skills, etc. I do not know his defensive value. But what if? If the FO drafts a pitcher, can Baez hold down SS for sure?

    So if Turner is drafted, I have believed for a long time Castro will be trade bait. He also might be paired with another top 15 player to get a TOR pitcher. We don't need #3's!

    That would leave

    1B - Rizzo
    2B - Baez, Alcantara
    3B - Olt
    LF/RF Bryant

    What is Olt is hotter than Rizzo who just doesn't get it together again? Could Bryant or Olt go to 1B?

    1B - Olt, Bryant
    2B - Alcantara
    SS - Turner
    3B - Baez
    LF - Bryant
    CF - Almora
    RF - Soler if he gets it together.

    My guess is that Turner or a drafted pitcher, and Alcantara's continued progress, will determine if Castro is here again next year.

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    You guys crack me up if castro is good enough for TOR arm then why not keep him ? I'm sorry but castro alone is not getting it done,and everyone is living in fantasy world. So if they trade castro because they just drafted turner then are we going to trade turner because we drafted another ss later ? I know this is hard for some people but castro might be better then alot of these prospects that you guys drool over. I guess it doesn't matter if he is having a good year or bad in a lot of fans eyes he has to go.

  • In reply to seankl:

    X2. I'd like it to be like a Profar situation where the prospect is actually in the majors and getting AB, instead of shipping Castro off because Baez might be better, or Turner could take his spot in a couple years. Not like the Cubs would ship him off right now while his stock is at it's lowest.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Dont forget, the Strangers just traded Kinsler instead of Profar(for Fielder), so looks like Profar is the 2b there for now. They did that the way it should be done,gave up a proven big leaguer for another proven big leaguer. Im guessing Fielder hits 40 HR in that Texas bandbox.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to seankl:

    Agreed. Just did don't get it. If Castro is good enough to get an arm like that he should be good enough to be our SS of the future.

    I'd like to see Castro and Baez on the same team no matter who plays where. You just don't trade good young Shortstops. Teams that are rumored to do it, never do. And teams that have done it usually end up regretting it.

    Neither Castro nor Baez are going anywhere. Reminds me of the Andrus/Profar situation that went on for years. How did that turn out?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to seankl:

    Shhh! Voices of sanity not allowed to break the future fantasies.

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    That is extremely right handed

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Right now Castro wouldn't bring back a TOR arm. And if he vastly improves, the Cubs aren't likely to trade him.

  • fb_avatar

    I respect Darwin Barney for his gold glove acheivement; remember, he learned a new position to do that, and basically didn't commit errors. That takes hard work, dedication, and focus. He just doesn't have enough god-given hitting talent.

    Barney is a guy I want on the team, and on a good team would a top-flight utility guy. But we're not in that position.

  • fb_avatar

    BTW, another blog reports the Mets have called with interest in Darwin Barney; they need 2b/ss help. I doubt we would get much in return, but maybe if we start having a roster crunch I can see it

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Wonder what they would be willing to part with in order to get Barney?

    I mean,... it's not like he has no value,.... still cost-controlled,.... can cover multiple IF positions defensively,.... no personality disorders,....

    And it's not like the Mets farm system is particularly well stocked anyway.

  • I'll be very surprised if Barney is a Cub in 2015.

  • In reply to Eric:

    I'll be very surprised if Barney is a Cub in August 2014.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    Love the glove, and he seems like a great teammate and stabilizing force on defense, but e'll likely be a Yankee by mid-year with all the infield injury concerns they have. Maybe sooner.

  • Good stuff! Donnie Murphy's ideal spot is probably second as well. You're right, definitely a situation brewing and its going to be so fun to watch. Hopefully everyone plays really well and makes it that much harder! I'm a huge Barney fan. Have been since he was in college. I definitely remember being pumped when I saw that we peeled him in the 4th round. That being said, I like Alcantara there long term. Early prediction on him being a top 25 prospect in the game going into next season.

    It's just so nice to have so many attractive options on the infield. There are so many different ways it could go. If Bryant gets pushed out of the infield it creates a little bit of a corner OF logjam, especially if Lake and Sweeney play well...

    Logjams are good.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    I like this Ben! I also hope Alcantara is there and hope he is top 25. Agree on all accounts.

  • Barney has no place on the future Cubs, he's an automatic out on a terrible offense. If the Cubs were a Top 10 scoring offense you can let it slide but not when you score the 2nd least runs in baseball.

    He's not going to bring much if anything back in return, a light-hitting IF who only gives you defense, will bring back some A-Baller going through his 2nd TJ surgery.

    I'd like to see Baez/Alcantara get a lot of AAA at-bats. There's no rush to move them up unless they completely dominate over the course of an extended period. Wasn't one concern on why Castro went through a down season was that he didn't get enough minor league seasoning/work/instruction? There's no reason to have these guys up in June/July (unless of course they are completely raking, I mean like Top 5 performances in the league). Let them play the whole minor league season and get them up here in September to get their feet wet. Unless they pull a Jackson/Vitters in September then you give them every opportunity to win the job out of spring in 2015.

    I don't want to see Barney anymore, hopefully Valbuena/Murphy can be half decent. I'm not much of a believer in Bonifacio. There's a reason he could only get a minor league deal from a really bad baseball team.

  • Fans will just have to wait to see how it all plays out. Looks like to me that the Cubs needs and the needs of the trading partner will determine who gets traded. I think that the FO would like Alcantara to be the long term solution at 2b because of his unique package of power, speed, switch top of the order bat. I believe he will be that player.

  • I would hope the Cubs would be thoroughly convinced that the next shortstop is going to be better than Castro before they make a trade. They could package one of their fringe 3rd baseman with him and possibly get either a #2 starter or a boatload of top pitching prospects.
    I hope Turner gets drafted before the Cubs pick. Then there will be no doubt we will take a pitcher and it should be a good one. Hopefully a fasttracking college pitcher like Beede.

  • In reply to CubsBuck22:

    That all depends too. The pitchers could go 1-3 and leaving us Turner or Jackson, most likely, or Jackson and Turner could go 2-3 making us decide between Hoffman and Beede. Personally, I'm hoping for Beede or Turner. But, I would be happy with any of the projected top 5 besides Kolek

  • Another possibility for the future at 2b is Christian Villanueva. He is capable, carries himself like a professional, and oh so close to tapping into that power and there could be a logjam at 3b.

  • Good recap on the 2B dilemma.

    It's a tough situation for Barney ( especially later in the year and going into next year).

    I love his defense and work ethic, but his offensive production has to improve to even warrant a guaranteed job next year at 2B.

    He will probably have to hit .290 or more, with an OBP of .330 or higher, to even have a chance of sticking at 2B next year. If he has another year like last year (offense-wise) I could see him being released due to his higher salary. Hopefully not tho.

    I guess this is a good problem for the Cubs to have.

  • Hopefully Barney hits around .240-.270 in the first couple months and helps raise some of that trade value. A lot of it really depends on Olt, if he wins the 3B job then Barney will likely be the odd man out. But if it's still Murphy/Valbuena at 3rd, I can see Baez coming up and playing 3B. I don't see Alcantara coming up this year unless it's in September and he might end up in CF

  • Barney might have to play SS if Castro is traded at mid-season for pitching and Baez needs more defensive reps in Iowa. Barney' s bat would play better there.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Castro being traded mid-season is not realistic unless he returns to form and at that point wouldn't it be better to keep him just in case Baez doesn't pan out?

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    I'm more worried that Olt, Alcantara and Christian Villanueva don't pan out. Slide Baez to third, Bryant to the outfield and then who at second? I completely agree with seeing what pans out at the major leagues with proven minor leaguers before trading any current players on our roster.

    A few people have pointed out that Barney fits on a team with a bunch of great hitters. If what I said above comes to fruition and Rizzo and Castro return to form while Castillo keeps constant, we could have such a line up if two out of Baez, Soler, Bryant and Almora make it. But there's no sense in writing out line up cards until we find out who will stick and who will fade...

  • I am worried about the team being extremely RH heavy especially with power hitters. Does that put extra emphasis on developing Watkins, Vogelbach and Alcantara due to their batting? Rizzo too needs to take the next step and handle inside fastballs better. Also from a draft standpoint, does a guy like Derek Fisher from UVA who is a LH OF make sense if he rises up? You would hate to have to draft that way since the guarantees are so little.

    Castro makes the most sense to trade if everyone develops because of his OBP - that is the rub -everyone has to develop. Lets see if Hendry still wants him in NY. Unfortunately Rizzo still has to prove he is an everyday hitter and not just a platoon guy. I would say his sample size is still small and we cannot get wrapped into his narrative too much.

  • Barney's a good guy but needs to go. So does Valbuena. I know they both play good defense but their offensive numbers are a serious drag on the lineup. Assuming Castro gets back to his normal production level, all the other position starters are average or slightly above average offensively- which is most important in the long run. Keeping players whose value is mostly derived from their defense is a great way to build a losing ballclub.

    That said, Cubs are mostly inquiring on Barney now because they believe they can buy low. Unless he's packaged with Shark, Schierholtz, Carville, etc. the prospect return will probably be some young low A pitcher, ala Leal or similar.

  • In reply to Paulson:

    More like 'other teams are inquiring on Barney'. No coffee = no brain power.

  • If the FO continues to cycle through players like last year, then guys like Murphy, Watkins, Bonifacio and even Barney are candidates to be released at any point in the season if they don't perform and/or someone more intriguing comes across the waiver wire. The Cubs will continue to audition players at all positions until the farm system takes over, then they will look to the FA market to fill in around the core. This has been their stated plan all winter. However, Barney has earned the respect as a fielder that winning a gold glove deserves, so my guess is the Cubs will want him around as long as possible. I also think Barney is a great organization guy whose real baseball future likely lies in coaching/managing/FO.

  • In reply to Cleme:

    The good news for the Cubs will be when the Barneys, Bonafacios and Murphys are playing somewhere else.

  • I'll wait to see how spring training plays out before Stayin anything. this is good stuff in the comments guys

  • There seems to be so many IF's that unless we get overvalue for Barney now, we should wait a while and let the brass see how things shake out.

    I was one of those who got frustrated when Barney made all those outs last year. However, he IS a hard worker and if he hits .265, I can see him as an asset. Platooning him against lefties doesn't give him many at-bats though. I guess this decision will be a big one for Theo.

  • I really think most fans are down on Castro. Hes 24 yrs old and had one bad season. Not long ago he was a all-star. He has all the tools to be a exceptional SS. He hits,runs,throws and fields well. I just don't understand it. In any event I expect to see Starlin here for a long time and be very productive. Average defense????? wow.

  • In reply to rockyje:

    The better Casro plays the more he will bring back is the other side of the coin.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    And your assuming that baez and others are mlb players. And if castro is tapping into his potential then its hard to just say trade him to bring more question marks back. Because at this moment all of the prospects are question marks, we don't know who will make it.

  • In reply to seankl:

    If Castro is traded and Olt, Alcantara and Villenueva all fail at the big league level, we'll be kicking ourselves. Trading Castro is absurd at this point unless we are blown away. If this were to happen, Bryant at 3rd, Baez at short, Barney at 2nd, Rizzo at first isn't bad (defensive concerns as Bryant grows and Baez' errors at short), but trading cost controlled young players is not at all what we need to do at this point until we know more about who will falter and who will stick.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    And the more reason there is to keep him.

  • Barney will not last the season with the Cubs. If he bats well in spring training or early season, he'll be gone quickly.

  • To those who are saying trade Castro for a TOR arm, who did you have in mind?

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    No one really knows now. You never know what opportunity will come up and when. Theo will be constantly working the phone and if a good value trade comes along he will do it. It is that simple. You never know when some team will be desperate. Look what we got for Feldman, Garza, and Maholm.

  • In reply to John57:

    Teams don't tend to trade TOR arms when they are desperate. Seems like that would set them back.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    It may not set them back if they are getting rid of a TOR SP that costs more than they can afford. It is possible in the next 2 years TB gets desperate to trade Price because they don't want to sign him to a multi-year contract. Or what if they really need a good SS who is young and healthy and have several young SPs and wouldn't mind trading one of them. I think St Louis fits this description You just never know. Obviously you're not going to get a Chris Sale or Kershaw type of pitcher but some TOR with some kind of flaw or risk is possible. I think Vizcaino is a TOR ceiling SP. We got him for Maholm. What if Baltimore or Washington are in the playoff hunt and their SS gets hurt, are they willing to trade Bundy or Giolito? Don't underestimate Theo. There are 29 other teams out there to trade with and a lot of things could happen in the next year or two.

  • In reply to John57:

    I hope to god the Cubs aren't looking to get prospects back if they trade Castro.

  • In addition to his low OPS, OBP (.266), and BA (.208), don't forget that Barney led the Cubs with 22 GDP last year. So, not only is he an almost sure out, he often makes TWO outs all by himself!

  • Hitting better than the pitcher should be a rather low bar for most position players, but in this case not so much.

  • fb_avatar

    Was I the only one that heard Jed Hoyer say that Castro was our shortstop of the future? That doesn't sound like he plans on trading him any time soon.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Betty Amie:

    Apparently you were. Unless the Castro traders did hear it and just don't care. Wouldn't be the first time lol

  • In reply to Betty Amie:

    And they said Matt Garza are the type of players to build the team around.

  • Barney not starting today...hmm sign of things to come? And Olt as DH, too bad as I was going to give a report on his fielding.

  • Under Rudy Jaramillo, Barney slashed .276/.313/.353/.666

    His fall off has coincided with the firing of Rudy and the hiring of Rowson/Deer.... Everyone talks about the regression of Rizzo & Castro, etc under those hitting coaches, but not Barney.

    I think the FO wouldn't offered him a pre Arb deal if they didn't intend to see if he can turn it back around under Mueller. That's not to say that they still won't trade him by the deadline, etc... But right now he offers nothing in trade value, even as a throw in and he's not blocking anyone until Baez/Alcantara prove they are ready. Murphy/Valbuena/Bonifacio/Watkins, etc are nothing more than more cost effective utility players....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Barney had absolutley no power numbers when Rudy J was here. I suspect Rowson/Deer wanted him to hit for more power, well Barney proved he cant do that , either. Barneys a good kid, but hes not someone whos an asset to a championship caliber team.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I agree, I think rudy jaramillo was a hitting coach that helped you feel good in the box. Sveum,Rowson,and deer all had different styles of hitting. If you look at szeums career numbers he was all power but no obp or average. I think he and deer was trying to teach that to hitters like barney and castro but failed to realize that is not there strengths. Rudy based his teachings on the batters strength and hearing muellers talk it seems like him and rudy are a little similar.

  • In reply to seankl:

    Rob Deer took a lot of walks in his career. He was a poor man's Adam Dunn.

    And looking at the career numbers for Sveum and Deer doesn't indicate anything when it comes to their teaching philosphy anyway. There is no way the front office would have hired a guy and allowed him to work with the young guys that didn't buy into The Cubs Way, which includes an emphasis on approach and OBP.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Barney just got figured out is all. It's not uncommon for a player to put up good results when he first comes up and then get figured out. Much like Junior Lake. Hopefully Lake can adjust, Barney couldn't.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I agree with you HoosierDaddy. Barney will definitely be given the chance to be the starter, at least for this year. If he can prove that his 2011 hitting wasn't a fluke, then it's his job for 2014. They may want to trade him at this point, if they think Alcantara or Baez are ready. But very small chance that Valbuena gets the starting job. He can't hit. He has some pop, but his bat has always been atrocious at the MLB level, at least Barney had one decent year.

  • fb_avatar

    most likely scenario is Barney gets majority of AB's this year
    and is non tendered next November / December

Leave a comment