In 2007, the Chicago Cubs used their 127th overall pick to draft an infielder from Oregon State University with an incredible glove and unforgettable name.
While he didn’t quite have the power of Baez, his speed and glove work made him a fan favorite with Cubs fans. Oddly enough, Darwin made his big league Cubs debut on August 12, 2010, against the San Francisco Giants.
He was called up following a trade with the Giants that involved infielder Mike Fontenot. That day, Fontenot appeared in a Giants uniform as a pinch-hitter while Barney fielded second base.
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Unfortunately, Chicago wouldn’t be able to come away with the victory, falling 8-7 and 19-games below .500. While reviewing the box score, you can’t help but notice the names that made up Lou Piniella’s lineup.
Names such as Tyler Colvin, Starlin Castro, Kosuke Fukudome, Marlon Byrd, Xavier Nady, Jeff Baker, Alfonso Soriano, Sean Marshall, and Koyie Hill. This organization has come a long way when you compare rosters from a decade ago.
Jump ahead two-years, and Darwin Barney becomes the first Chicago Cubs second baseman to win a Gold Glove award since Ryne Sandberg in 1991. Of course, Sandberg earned nine in a row dating back to 1983, totally beside the point.
Before Darwin, legendary pitcher Greg Maddux (2004, 2005) and first baseman Derrek Lee (2005, 2007) were the first Cubs to earn Gold Glove honors since Mark Grace in 1996. Barney nearly made it back-to-back years with the award but was beaten out by Cincinnati Reds own Brandon Phillips.
Although his tenure lasted only four years, Barney’s time with the team helped fans prepare for guys like Baez and Nico Hoener. Two men capable of taking away what could have been easy base hits.
So, where exactly is Barney at now? Before the current pandemic, it was announced by MiLB.com that Barney would be named the manager of the Nashville Sounds. The 34-year-old had signed a minor-league deal with the Texas Rangers in 2018 but was released mid-March.
Now he’ll be leading the Rangers Triple-A affiliate once operations are underway. Once a Gold Glove and Cub now manager makes you think of Sandberg yet again. Ryne took over for the Class-A Peoria Chiefs in 2006, working his way to Triple-A in Chicago and Philadelphia.
In 2013, Sandberg became manager of the Philadelphia Phillies following the dismissal of Charlie Manuel. It did not turn out as well as he had hoped, resigning in 2015 with his club sitting with the worst record in the league of 26-48.
Will Barney have a better turnout as a manager? Only time will tell. If not, he can always return home to Chicago like Ryno.