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The little girl is sick, so I’m playing nurse today. Don’t think me a bad father if you still see plenty of posts – I may have done some writing in advance late last night…

  • The more he sees of Darwin Barney, the more Dale Sveum likes him. Having seen Barney from the other dugout in 2011, Sveum isn’t totally unfamiliar with his abilities, but notes that it’s different when you’re tasked with evaluating a player. Barney, who put on 20 pounds of muscle in the offseason, is expected to be the Cubs’ starting second baseman this year, and, if he’s to be a better than average player there, his defense will have to reach an elite level (because, I’m sorry, his bat will never be average). It’s not inconceivable: last year was Barney’s first as a full-time second baseman after a minor league career as an above-average shortstop. He could improve dramatically this year.
  • Sveum plans on playing around with a number of lineups early in Spring Training, but we shouldn’t read too much into it. “I’ll probably have different lineups every day just looking at stuff,” Sveum said. “Like I told these guys, don’t look into any of the lineups I’m going to be throwing out there the first week or so because it’s just getting the feel for everything. Some of the guys in the lineup right now, there are not cut-and-dry guys, so there will be a lot of different lineups out there.”
  • Cubs players believe they can win in 2012, which I suppose is the only appropriate attitude in March. According to Ryan Dempster, a part of the positivity is because the players want to look good for the new men in charge. “We know that we have those that doubt what we can accomplish but everyone is really trying hard to impress the new bosses and I really like the makeup of the team we have here in camp,” Dempster said.
  • Fluff on Brett Jackson. He’s got the same good attitude about his immediate future as does Anthony Rizzo (who, like Jackson, will start at AAA Iowa). “I’m not looking too far ahead,” Jackson said. “I’m looking to play my game and play to the best of my ability. If people at the top like what they see, which I think they will, we’ll let them make those decisions. I like to focus on things I can control. That’s how I approach my work ethic every day – how early I get to the field, how long I spend in the gym, what I do in the cage and during practice. That’s what I’m focusing on now. I’m not focusing on trying to make the team or starting in Iowa. We’ll let those decisions be made. It’s baseball for me, and I’m always going to play 110 percent.”
  • The outfielders are enjoying working with Dave McKay, who came over to the Cubs from the Cardinals.
  • Fluff on David DeJesus. I have a feeling we’re really going to enjoy cheering for him this year.
  • The Onion wins the Ryan Braun story: “Kids of Milwaukee Forced to Look Up to Ryan Braun on Technicality.
  • Paul Sullivan answers questions. Apparently folks still labor under the impression that Ryne Sandberg should have been hired, that Alfonso Soriano has trade value, and that adding additional Wild Cards is a bad idea (that last one is on Paul…).
  • MLBullets over at BCB, featuring Grady Sizemore doing what Grady Sizemore does.
  • Yesterday would have been Harry Caray’s 98th birthday. Cheers, Harry.
  • Fishin Phil

    I hope Barney surprises us all this year.

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      Ageed he’s the player I hope I’m wrong about but if he’s playing average by June I expect the trade deadline will bring a new 2B or Barney might get moved as a additional player in a big trade. I see the FO giving him half a season to prove that he is better than average.

      • hardtop

        heck, if he’s playing average (meaning bat and defense) he may be one of the better players on the team by June. We’re asking for a lot of improvement from a lot of guys: i personally think our production from the corners is going to be more of an issue than almost anything barney does or does not do.

  • brittney

    I said it last night and ill say it again…..I like darwin barney. I think hell end up being a pretty good utility player in the future. Maybe I just love the underdogs?

  • Chris S

    Not that it makes a difference to us, but what DOES Grady Sizemore do, other than get hurt?

    • Cubbie Blues

      Another side note, A.J. Burnett fractured his Right orbital bone. If it is just the rim that would mean only 2-3 weeks to heal. But, if there is nerve damage he could be out for the season. They won’t know the extent of the damage until surgery.

      • die hard

        This is best argument for DH in NL as per Billy Ripken’s 157 game season proposal

        • hardtop

          its also a great argument for not having a DH. If Burnett could bunt, or maybe even effectively swing the bat, this accident may not have happened. Certainly, one fluke occurrence doesn’t constitute enough evidence to change the game of baseball. I’ve watched almost exclusively NL baseball my entire life, and I cant recall an orbital break on a bunt to the face every happening before.. anyone?. Nor are Grady Sizemore’s repeated health issues reason enough to change the number of games (although i do support fewer games). He’s one dude with a lot of ability (I’m told) who just cant stay healthy…. it happens every once in awhile, not everyone is built the same.

      • Andrew

        i saw the clip of his bunt on espn that thing looked sooooo ugly blood everywhere

      • hardtop
      • Cubbie Blues

        Burnett will be out for 8-12 weeks (5-7 starts).

  • jstraw

    I fully expect to hear the “just Barney being Barney” meme throughout the season. He plays the game properly. He thinks. He puts himself in a position to do something constructive every time he steps in the box, or out onto the field. I’m not going to be surprised by his quality play at all. I think people continue to undervalue him and I’m not sure why. I sure wish Castro’s approach to life and baseball would take a few cues from Barney’s.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Barney is everything you want in a baseball player, no argument there.

      Except for one thing:

      He just can’t hit.

      • hcs

        But he’s scrappy, you’ve gotta give him that.

      • EQ76

        I think Barney will be a .280 hitter this year..

        • Hansman1982

          With a .310 OBP and 4 homers which makes his .280 BA about as valuable as an Iraqi Dinar

          • SirCub

            Wait, so you’re telling me I shouldn’t have drafted Darwin Barney in the first round AND my 401K (invested entirely in Dinars) is worthless?

            • D.H.Lang

              I have a friend who invested a few hundred in Iraqi Dirars. They are SEVERELY undervalued right now and are expected to sky rocket in value in the future.

        • Can’t think of a cool name

          EQ, very possible, he hit .276 last year. His problem (in my humble opinion) is his OBP. If he can learn to get on base more ofter, and if he can become an above average fielding second baseman, and if if his new 20 lbs of muscle add a little more power production, he will be a pleasant surprise. That’s alot of ifs. I recall in Moneyball (the book not the movie), that defense is secondary to offense. If the new regime subscribes to this, no matter how good a defensive player Barney becomes, it is his hitting the will make or break him. While I think the Cubs can do better at second base, Barney is a Cub and I will root for him to succeed.

          • AB

            The only way Barney is going to increase his OBP is if he increases his power or ability to hit to all fields. You can only work the count so much if a pitcher isn’t afraid of throwing you strikes because you’re a weak singles hitter.

      • die hard

        He can hit as proven in College and minors. Will he hit? If Cubs let him play his game of small ball he will be a table setter and lead team in runs scored and advancing runners into scoring position. If plays good defense at SS, cant expect more. If kept at 2B, then he will be perceived as an under producer.

        • Can’t think of a cool name

          Where did he prove he can hit in the minors? .711 career OPS including a .711 OPS in hitter friendly PCL.

          • SirCub

            If he could get his OPS over .700, I’d be happy.

        • ferrets_bueller

          You cant be a table setter if you only get on at a .310 rate…

      • colocubfan

        What kind of numbers would you want from a good defensive second baseman?
        I know he’s no Sandberg, but I kind of enjoyed watching him last year.

        • SirCub

          I won’t begrudge you the right to root for him. But second base become a position that you expect to get offense from. Pedroia, Cano, Kinsler, Weeks, Phillips, and others have set the standard that you can be a great hitter and a good fielding middle infielder.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          And that’s where I bend on Barney – if he takes a step forward and becomes an elite defensive second baseman (totally possible), I could absolutely tolerate a .275/.300/.375 line at the bottom of the order. I’m just not yet convinced of either of those propositions.

        • brittney

          Last year he rode a pretty good hitting streak. It was around the time they were playing at the dodgers and the day pena ALMOST hit his first homer as a cub. It was his 2nd half after his injury his numbers went down. I like the guy and I’m hoping him and castro improve on defense and become a good double play duo! I don’t expect a 20 homer season but 10HR with 45-50 rbi will be a great improvement for him….along with 20ish steals

          • hansman1982

            No his numbers went down starting on May 19…

            • DocWimsey

              Well, what it was is that Barney had a flukey first few weeks.  He got a lot of infield hits: if you recall, about a quarter of his “clutch” hits were actually infield grounders that didn’t even drive home a run.  At any rate, he’ll almost certainly never be a 10 HR guy.  (The RBI are meaningless to project: given his lack of power, that will depend almost entirely on the OBP of the guys in front of him.)

      • Beer Baron

        I disagree, slightly. His average was over .300 in the first half last year, which consisted of 300 ABs so thats a pretty good sample. He dropped significantly in the 2nd half (.240), but that is the norm for rookies. I’m not suggesting he is a .300 hitter, but I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Say .280 or so, which combined with his defense and “intangibles”, makes him decent, perhaps average, 2nd baseman. Honestly, of all the Cubs problems, I think 2nd base is down the list a ways.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I, too, think it’s down on the list, given how the offseason played out. I even said in this very post that I can see him being a plus for the Cubs this year. So don’t get me wrong. I’ve always liked Barney as a part of the team, and I think it’s plausible that he could be, overall, a good starting 2B if his defense becomes elite.

          But he can’t hit. I don’t know how else to say or explain it than I have over the past year. He hit well for one month – just one month – and the league figured him out, and he started hitting consistently with what his minor league track record would suggest. I’m not railing on the guy, I’m just pointing to the facts.

          • DocWimsey

            I agree with you, except that I wouldn’t say that the league figured out Barney.  He had a great BABiP for the first few weeks, due to a lot of infield hits and bloopers.  It was not like he went from driving the ball to not doing so: his chops just stopped being hits.

            Given his lack of batting eye, Barney is never going to draw walks, and a guy who’s going to struggle to reach a 0.30 OBP with zilch power is a lodestone: I don’t know if it is possible to prevent enough runs with your glove to make up for that!

  • Edwin

    The headline sounds very unhealthy. Maybe there is a cream or spray Dale can use to alleviate him of this condition?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Haaaaa….

  • RoughRiider

    I don’t think Barney gets enough credit. I’ve always pulled for the guys that play the game the right way and he’s one of them. Last year, for the first half, he was matching Castro hit for hit. He was one of the top rookies at the time. I don’t agree that he can’t hit and I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people this season. I think that the league got to know him last year and made adjustments and playing a full major league season got to him. It’s now his turn to make adjustments and I think he’s just the kind of player to do it and be a success.

    • die hard

      exactly and also recall he got hurt and came back too soon

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I hope you’re right that Barney is that one in 1000 player who vastly improves his offensive production for the first time in his late 20s in the Major Leagues. I almost never happens, but, sincerely, I hope you’re right.

      That’s all it is, though – hope. And hope is not the way to build a ballclub.

      • RoughRiider

        He’s 26. How is that the Late 20s? Where I come from that’s mid 20s. I would agree if he was 28 or 29 but not 26.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Semantics. “Latter half of his 20s” work better? The point remains the same.

        • hansman1982

          If Barney were coming into his age 24 season I could see how you could expect change but at this point he is who he is, a weak hitting, defensive minded middle infielder

    • Andrew

      It’s never been that he cant hit, because he definitely can. The problem with Barney is that he only hits singles. Nobody was afraid of pitching to him because of this so he couldn’t get a walk.

      If that 20 pounds of muscle means that he all of a sudden has doubles or homerun power, I think we could see a major improvement out of Barney, but I dont know that a little extra muscle necesarily will do that.

      • bluekoolaidaholic

        I agree.
        He has been a winner at every level of his career, and given his attitude and work ethic, I doubt if that will change now.
        I believe he will do whatever it takes to be a successful major leaguer.
        I would love to see him moved to shortstop and Castro moved to either 3rd or OF.
        (I know, I know, I’m agreeing with Diehard, (sigh))
        Hopefully, the added muscle and weight will give him a little power and what it takes to make it through the long grueling MLB season, ( the physical toll more of a factor in his mediocre latter part of the season last year, in my humble opinion).
        Sveum has my confidence that he knows what is best for this team and I’m really glad that he sees the value in Barney.
        We certainly have a lot more serious worries than any problems that Barney brings forth. If this becomes a real team and surprises us, we will be happy to have him.
        I am really eager for us to start playing and put this to rest.
        GO DARWIN, YOU DA MAN!

  • deej34

    Brett – With Sizemore hurt the Indians might be looking for a center fielder… rumors are that the Nationals are considering a true center fielder too. What are the chances Byrd is finally made available in trades…?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’d say the chances that the Cubs don’t at least see what’s up are slim. In other words, yeah, I’m sure there will at least be some conversations (probably have been already).

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      I’d be a little surprised if Washington deals for an outfielder. They are just keeping a slot warm for Bryce Harper. That could be done with a late spring waiver claim.

      • Andrew

        Why dont they just trade Harper for Byrd? lol

      • DocWimsey

        The Nats plan to move Werth to CF to make room for Harper at this point.  As for Cleveland, well, they’ve been playing without Sizemore for years.  That is truly a tragic case.

  • die hard

    operative words are “above-average shortstop”….switch him with Castro and Cubs have next 5 yrs of no worry at either position.

  • die hard

    Dave McKay didnt quit yet? Then that means he must be getting through to Soriano and Campana which is encouraging as the Cards always had above avg OF defense.

  • Dan

    Brett, I’m surprised there hasn’t been anything about Marlon Byrd trade rumors. Grady Sizemore is out with an injury and I hear Cleveland is looking for a replacement. Also, I hear the Nationals are still looking at center field options. Maybe one of those teams can offer something enticing for Byrd.

  • Pat

    I’m kind of disappointed the Cubs are still telling guys to put on unreasonable amounts of weight in the offseason (without supplements 2-3 pounds of muscle per month is about the most someone can realistically put on). I had a cousin who was in the Cubs system recently (roomed with Cashner a couple of years in the minors) who talked to me about this. Rather than having players work on baseball skills in the offseason the club would be more interested in how much weight they wanted the person to lose or gain. And sometimes it would be gain one offseason, lose the next.

    • CubFan Paul

      The season is a grind (talk to your cousin about this). 200lb men end the season at 175-180lbs without a proper weight/nutrition/supplements to maintain body weight/strength/stamina

      See Barney: http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/cubs/post/_/id/8151/barney-hopes-to-keep-strong-this-season

      • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

        I’m trying to think of any Cub players who went through the intensive weight training workouts the Cubs put in a few seasons back (Camp Colvin) who either didn’t have the muscle to gain, or who negatively impacted on the field in the following season.

        And I’m coming up empty. Campana will be a good test case to watch. If he’s bulked up to the point it costs him some of his speed, it won’t be pretty.

        • Cubbie Blues

          I believe I read somewhere that Campana feels like he is actually faster. There is some merit to that, more explosion with his first couple of steps. That would help him to get up to top speed even quicker.

      • Pat

        That has nothing to do with telling someone to put on 20+ lbs of muscle in 3-4 months. Basically, without taking some sort of steroids it can’t be done. Now you can put on 20 pounds of “mostly” muscle. Apparently the club’s thinking was that if you had enough guys who could throw mid nineties and had them all put on a lot of muscle, some of them would suddenly be able to throw upper nineties. It’s an interesting theory, but as far as I know, not supported by any actual science.

        • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

          As I understand it, the goal really isn’t to add speed to the pitches by adding muscle, it’s allow the player to hold that speed over the course of a season. Players lose a ton of weight during the season, and guys in the minors usually aren’t prepared for that. Throwing in the mid-90s is great, but the Cubs want to add enough weight and muscle on these guys that they are still throwing mid-90s in September after tossing 150+ innings. Any additional MPH on the fastball is just a bonus (and not necessarily a good one if it comes with a loss of control (Chris Carpenter, for example).

          • Pat

            That’s where you are wrong. I have it first hand that they are looking for radar gun increases. You don’t need to add muscle to make it through the season. Compared to most laborers, these guys do practically nothing. A lot of guys add weight during the season because the team is providing food.

  • CubFan Paul

    “his bat will never be average”

    I disagree. What if he Slugs more? That’s my problem with barney: he has the arm strength of my sisters.. With his alleged new muscle maybe he SLGs a little more than. 400 -then he’s tolerable and ‘average’

    I been banging these boards for Barney to roid up since last summer, because that was the Only way he was going to keep his job.

    • Deer

      “arm strength of your sisters” what are you talking about here? I’ve never heard anyone complain about his throwing arm. Are you talking about his bench press? Oh, and congrats on your sisters athletic prowess, it must have been fun cheering them on from the sidelines.

      • CubFan Paul

        I’m talking about his SLG % ..duh

  • TonyP

    I believe that adding 1 wild card  team and making it a 1 game playoff is asinine.

  • alsongs

    “He just can’t hit”? Granted,Barney slumped off after a blazing start at the plate, but he ended up hitting .276, no? If Blake Dewitt had been at second all year, played Barney’s calibre defense and hit .276, you would have taken the deal in a second. Last year Barney was third in BA for full-time Cub players behind Castro and Ramirez, and bested at least 11 other MLB second basemen. Granted, he’s not a slugger, but it’s interesting that you give Soriano a relatively wide berth for his batting and fielding sins, but don’t give Barney the same courtesy. Sorry if I’m cranky – not awake yet.

    • ferrets_bueller

      There’s a lot more to hitting than just BA, though. Thats a very empty .276, and its paired with only a minuscule amount of walks.

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      His season stats are hugely misleading. He hit .238 with an OBP of .286 after the All-Star break. His first two months were so good, though, that it carried his season numbers to an apparently respectable level.

      The argument can be made that he just hit the rookie wall and wore out physically, and that accounts for his huge drop in the second half. That would indicate that his actual career averages should be closer to the his first half numbers (which would be fantastic).

      We’ll find out soon. Regardless, if Barney and Cardenas can just fill in for a season or two, there some second baseman on the way out of the minors. Keep an eye on Logan Watkins and Zeke DeVoss in particular.

    • Andrew

      If Dewitt hit .276 he would be hititng a lot more doubles and a few homers. This would also translate into some more walks because people would be afraid to throw him all strikes. I dont think anyone gives Soriano a pass on his hitting or fielding, he’s just stuck here and Barney isn’t.

  • Jay

    Darwin Barney is WAY better than anyone gives him credit for. Why do people say he can’t hit? He batted over .300 for a large part of the season, it was his first full season in the bigs and he hadn’t yet adjusted to the longer season. The added mass should help that. What you can’t quantify with stats and numbers is his ability to lead by example. His attitude is infectious and every great team has a guy like Barney. Think Dustin Pedroia. Barney’s work ethic is top notch and he NEVER takes a play off. Not to mention that his defense is above average. In fact, he reminds me a lot of another young player that was underestimated his whole career until he proved everyone wrong, Derek Jeter. If you really stop and think about it they are very similar players. Calling him a utility player is doing him an injustice. I can’t wait to say I told you so in ten years when he’s still the starting 2nd baseman for the Cubs and he’s got multiple All Star appearances.

    • Cedlandrum

      Your definition of most of the year and mine are not the same.
      His batting average by month.
      .326
      .296
      .246
      .276
      .255
      .244

    • Noah

      First, comparing Darwin Barney to Derek Jeter is like comparing David DeJesus to Babe Ruth. TOTALLY different players, and Barney is vastly inferior. Jeter came up to the Yankees as a hugely touted prospect at age 21, and put up a .314/.370/.430 triple slash in his rookie year. Darwin Barney came up as a 25 year old fringe prospect and put up a .276/.313/.356. The difference between Jeter’s rookie OPS and Barney’s was .131! That’s massive. Jeter, despite all of his defensive issues, is probably one of the five best shortstops of all time.

      I also think the statement that “Barney hit .300 for the first half of the season” is incredibly deceiving and pretty disingenuous. Barney hit .326 in April. Over the following five months of the season, he hit .296, .246, .276, .255, .244.

      With that said, I like Darwin Barney, and think the Cubs do need him to start most games at 2B above their other options, because Cardenas and DeWitt are both poor fielders. While Garza was a flyball pitcher with the Rays, he was above average at inducing ground balls last year with the Cubs. Five of the Cubs six potential starters have at least some history of having success through inducing ground balls, with Travis Wood being the only one who is a clear flyball pitcher. They’ll need Barney’s defense for the flyball pitchers.

      I’m also not sure where the indication that Barney is not currently an above average fielder came from. FanGraphs had him at a 5.8 UZR/150 last season. B-R had him at 0.1 dWAR. Baseball Prospectus had him at 7.8 FRAA. So B-R has him as an essentially average fielder, but FG and BP have him as pretty well above average.

      Barney should be slid in the 8th spot and starting at 2B with some spot starts against tough RHPs for Cardenas or DeWitt and with Cardenas, DeWitt or Baker starting when Travis Wood is on the mound.

      • Dave H

        I would tend to think they need Barney’s better defense fielding those grounders from the other pitchers also.

      • KyleNovak

        Well said.

    • Gabriel

      I am convinced that Darwin Barney intentionally mimics Derek Jeter. After all, he is considered the Jeter of college baseball with his back-to-back rings at Oregon State. I was at the U of O in Eugene at the time and since they had no baseball team I took an interest in Barney & the Beavers.

      Even then, he looked/acted like Jeter in the field & at the plate. Compare their batting stances, swing, what they do in between each swing, etc it is borderline IDENTICAL. Not only this, he shares the same leadership qualities, work ethic, and championship pedigree.

      I know these things only gets you so far, & I am clearly biased to like Barney cuz I saw a lot of his play in Oregon, but I really think we need him on this team and that if anybody can get better/be a late bloomer it is him.

    • mister_rob

      Wth all due respect……what are you talking about?

      Jeter was underappreciated? When? He was a top 20 prospect for three years in a row. As a 20 yr old he put up an 843 ops in AAA. his minor league career OPS was over 800 (and mostly accomplished as a teenager). To compare, Barney has a AAA career ops of 694. And he was far from a teenager

      Here is a breakdown of Barneys season last year by month.
      April 801 ops
      May 658 ops
      Jun 527 ops
      Jul 713 ops
      Aug 649 ops
      Sep 604 ops

      That is one great month. one decent month, two bad months. and two horrible months
      Griitiness be damned. Dude cant hit

  • Jay Anderson Jr

    I think Barney is a good player, a good 2nd baseman who will only get better. He will improve this year. Hitting .280 or .290 is not out of the question.

    • TWC

      No, but that’s not the question.  The question is whether or not he can get his OPS above .700.  Hitting .290 is swell but if it goes along with an OBP of .310 it doesn’t really matter much.

  • Cubbies4Life

    I really like Barney. There, I’ve said it. And I’m REALLY looking forward to cheering for Rizzo and Jackson with the I-Cubs. 34 more days!!!! BTW, Brett, how do I post a lovely, sexy picture of myself on my profile?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      We use gravatar here, so all you have to do is go to gravatar.com, set up an account, and make sure to use the same email there that you use here when you post. Do that (you put your picture up there at gravatar.com), and then boom, you’ll have a picture here (and anywhere else that uses gravatar).

  • Cubbies4Life

    Thank you, I’ll do that. Get ready for my awesomeness…

  • Jay

    First off, I never said Barney hit .300 for half the season. Read before you berate. I said a large part of the season. By that I mean he hit .300 for a longer time than anyone on the team except Castro and Ramirez. Yet people call him a utility player. Why not call Pena, Sori, Soto, Byrd, etc. utility players? I compare him to Jeter because he was never touted to be a top tier defender, power guy, speed guy, or have a great arm. Don’t be so literal. Of course they had different paths. I’m just saying their skill set is similar, IN MY OPINION. Most importantly I think Barney could lead a team much like Jeter does, quietly and by example.

  • KyleNovak

    Looks like the whole gamut of feelings on Darwin Barney have been expressed in this thread.

    I’ll just quickly add my two cents.

    The facts don’t lie:

    He started off hot and cooled off considerably as the year went on. It could have been fatigue, it could have been the league figuring him out, it could have been a host of other things. Regardless, the numbers by month clearly show he was worth less and less value with the bat as the season went on. .276/.316/.353 in 571 PA with an 0.9 oWAR (from B-R) is very ho-hum, if anything.

    Side note: The players on B-R with the highest similarity scores for Barney are “old-school” in the truest meaning of the word. Nine of the ten played prior to 1952, with most playing in the deadball era. Only former Cub Andres Blanco makes the list from the expansion/modern era. So yes, Barney is “old-school.” Wool uniforms, black and white photos, drink whiskey right before we play today’s double-header “old school.”

    It’s easy to give Barney a lot of credit for last year since he was A) a rookie, albeit a 25-year old one, and B) playing on a crappy team. Above-average fielding and his final stat line place him in the merely average category (or slightly above, or slightly below, depending on who you are talking too). He won’t have that luxury this year, as people are expecting him to improve or risk losing his job.

    I disagree with Brett’s statement that Barney will “never be an average bat,” even though he very well could end up being right. I just think never is a tough word to use in this situation. (Brett, you know I couldn’t resist the chance to post on a Darwin Barney thread. :) )

    It’s not realistic to expect a sudden increase in the number of walks he takes. Barney has always been a contact hitter who doesn’t strike out a whole lot or walk a bunch. His BABIP last year (.310) didn’t indicate either increased good or bad luck.

    The key to his success lies in whether he will develop a little more power going into his prime years. If he can drive more pitches into the gap for doubles and make stronger contact on a number of tough pitches (instead of weakly dribbling them in the infield), that would give him much more value.

    I think .285/.325/.390 with improved defense in 2012 could be a distinct possibility.

    That being said, if this year is identical to (or worse than) last year, he would have a very hard time ever being considered a regular player going forward. It’s put-up-or-shut-up time this season and I think Barney knows that. It sounds like he has worked hard this offseason and put on some serious muscle. I guess we’ll see if that translates into increased success on the field, or if it just makes him look better with his shirt off.

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