David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
I’ve been an advocate for Darwin Barney from day one. Even with all that the Chicago Cubs have done with the roster, I felt he needed a chance to rebound, just as Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo have. But the platoon system has found Barney on the outside looking in.
Emilio Bonifacio and Luis Valbuena have the ability to play multiple positions. This has left Barney, as well as Mike Olt needing at-bats. Olt started to see more playing time and has shown his power capability at the plate. Barney isn’t going to wow with power. Even his superb defense is expected now. So without consistent at-bats it’s going to be hard for him to stand out. But I think he needs that chance.
In his last four games, Barney is hitting .375 (6/16) with one home run and 3 runs batted in. It’s not spectacular, but it shows he’s trending in the right direction. At this point I think it’s clear the Cubs are working towards the future. barney was pretty much cast out by some fans as Javier Baez made a strong statement in the spring. That statement isn’t quite as loud now as Baez has struggled. Barney is young enough to be considered a “core” piece.
His defense will always speak volumes and be the first thing noted, and with the current struggles on defense that should be appreciated. Barney struggled last year, same as Castro and Rizzo. Barney isn’t getting the chances for the wrong reasons. Bonifacio should see his starts in the outfield. And this thought that Baez will be taking his spot soon should be put away for now.
Play Darwin. He’s a Gold Glove winner, had a great rookie season, and in 2012 when his sophomore numbers dropped, his WAR (Wins above replacement) was 4.7. Last year, in my opinion, was an anomaly, not the norm. At this point, the Cubs have nothing to lose by running Barney out there and seeing what he produces. He’s not playing on a regular basis this year, and this start is worse as a team than any other year he’s been a Cub. That’s strictly coincidence, but let him play.