Cubs Roster Profiles: Darwin Barney


As the 2012 season approaches, Cubbies Crib is profiling each and every member of the Cubs forty man roster. Today, we are talking about Darwin Barney.

Barney is a player who’s status is in question by both the fan base and the front office. Despite winning the starting job in 2011, the second baseman lacks the hype and high ceiling that would better help him cement the label as a starter. He is a scrappy player known more for his defense than his bat. Comparisons can be made to Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot, a pair of middle infielders that preceded Barney. It should be noted that both former Cubs went on to win World Series rings in the past two seasons, but by the same token both also ended up with more of a part time role on those winning teams.

2011 Recap

In his first full season of Major League ball, Barney more than held his own at the plate, particularly in the first half of the season. He was able to keep his batting average floating around the .300 mark before fading in late August and into September. The late season slide is what has people questioning his ability to be a Major League starting second baseman, despite the fact that he was one of the few highlights overall of the otherwise disappointing 2011 season for the Cubs.

2012 Outlook

The starting second base job figures to be Barney’s to lose this Spring. Despite the middle infield being an area of depth in the Cubs system, the third year player’s current competition figures to just be veterans Blake DeWitt and Jeff Baker.  Both at this point are more considered as platoon players, and they are the same names that Barney beat out last year. An indirect dark horse candidate for his job would be Josh Vitters, if the hyped Cubs prospect can find his way to Wrigley this season and bump Ian Stewart from third base to second.

In the field, Barney and double play partner in crime Starlin Castro should take a step forward defensively, building on the year they spent together  at Wrigley last season. But Barney’s bat is what will determine whether he can shed the tag of being more than just a role player. He will need to keep his average and OPS north of .280 and .365 respectively. The scrappy second baseman would project well in the two hole spot he filled in the order last year, or even as a contact bat to fill the bottom of the line up. Bottom line, Barney will be the bottom tier of the Cubs list of worries in 2012 as the new front office regime tries to rebuild the organization.

The late season fade of 2011 should be chalked up more to being worn down from his first full season on a bad team, rather than a fear that the National League is adjusting and finding permanent holes in his strike zone. Barney will keep the starting job in 2012, but depending on how the current Cubs middle infield prospects progress, he will most likely be fighting the part time label and for playing time again come this time of year next season.