With the New York Yankees’ signing of former Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, it appears as if Chicago second baseman and former Gold Glove award winner Darwin Barney will stay put on the North Side heading into next season.
Barney, 28, maintained his Gold Glove-caliber defense in 2013, but took a major step backwards at the plate, slashing .208/.266/.303 – a noted subtraction from his numbers in 2012, when he hit .254/.299/.354 in 156 games for the Cubs.
Recent rumors had connected New York with Chicago in what many saw as a potential deal to send Barney to the Yankees to fill their second base vacancy left in the wake of the departure of superstar Robinson Cano, who signed a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Seattle Mariners last week.
So what does this mean for the Cubs?
Chicago will likely be looking at the same combo up the middle as it saw last year, combining Barney with Starlin Castro. Castro, who is widely believed to be one of the franchise cornerstones moving forward, often draws heated criticism of fans for his lackadaisical play on the field, but by most statistical measures, 2013 was his best year on the field.
His .967 fielding percentage was the best of his career and he posted a Rtot (which is the number of runs above or below average that the player was worth and is determined based upon how many plays that player made) measurement of -6, which indicates he’s still a step below the average big league shortstop. With that in mind, that same measurement was at -12 in 2010 – his first big league season – and -15 in 2011.
Granted, there’s still leaps and bounds of progress that need to be made defensively for the Chicago shortstop, but with Barney forming the other half of the double play combo, there is still cause for hope. If this pair can bounce back, collectively, behind the Cubs’ pitchers, then it could be a major step forward for a team that has a widely disheartened fan base after several losing seasons.