Darwin Barney Is Liked But Not A Starter
When analysts, scouts, and various front-office begin to look at the long-term future of a major league team they often turn their attention to the middle-infielders before going through any other position. The goal of the Theo Epstein regime is to build for the long-term future. Luckily for Epstein, the Cubs’ building block for the future is also their starting shortstop. Despite recent allegations, the Chicago Cubs are still going forward with Castro as their pitch-man. But with Castro entrenched as the team’s cornerstone, the attention now should turn to his double-play partner.
The Cubs’ second base position has been like the Chicago Bears’ wide receiver position, it is a position where second baseman go to die. The Cubs have had their fair share of one hit wonders such as Todd Walker, Mark Grudzielanek, Mark DeRosa, Ryan Theriot, Mike Fontenot, and most recently Darwin Barney.
The Cubs entered the 2011 season with the idea that Barney would be the platoon partner with veteran Blake DeWitt at the second base position. But as the Cubs continued to play out their schedule, Barney was starting to get more and more starts at the second base position. Barney eventually became the everyday second baseman for the Cubs, and as the season went on the debate has always existed as to whether Barney can be an everyday player or is he another one hit wonder for the Cubs at the second base position?
Throughout Spring Training last season, there was always a question as to whether or not Barney would be able to produce offensively to warrant him being an everyday player. During the month of April, Barney answered that question. Barney produced a batting line of .326/.351/.449/.800 with the Cubs during the first of month of the season in 89 at bats. The issue is that April was the best month for Barney during the 2011 season. Barney had a line of .296/.316/.343/.659 in May; .246/.281/.246/.527 in June; .276/.323/..391/.714 in July; .255/.306/.343/.649 in August; and .244/.287/.317/.604 in September. Another indictment of Barney’s decline throughout season was has pre and post All-Star split. Barney hit .306/.334/.374/.708 prior to the All-Star break and .238/.286/.328/.614 after. In total, Barney had a line of .276/.313/.353/.666 for the 2011 season.
Personally, I think every team should have a Darwin Barney on their roster. The type of player that Barney is one who is an excellent back-up to both the second base and shortstop positions, but not one who should be considered a starter at either position. Another impressive attribute about Barney is that he plays the game the right way. Barney has a very intelligent mind to go in line with his intelligent family, and that could be reason why Barney may be one of the most smartest players in the game. While there were several rookies mistakes with Barney throughout the 2011 season, he is one of the most fundamentally sound players on the Cubs’ 25 man roster.
Again, Barney deserves a spot on the Cubs’ 25 man roster, but one that is as a role player and not a starter. I would not put it past Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer to trade for a second baseman at some point before opening day. If they don’t, Barney will begin the year as the starting second baseman. And with the Cubs in a
building season, there should be no complaints if Barney is indeed the Cubs’ starting second baseman going into the season.