Darwin Barney is the Best Second Baseman in Baseball and Other Bullets

So, is the Tigers-got-cold-because-of-the-sweep thing really true? Assuming they eventually lose the World Series, that’s what folks will say. And we’ll probably never know if it’s actually true, because it’s not like the Giants aren’t good (and hot).

  • Darwin Barney won the Field Bible Award for second base (one winner at each position in baseball), which is awarded by a panel of forward-thinking experts each year. From the Fielding Bible’s John Dewan: “Darwin Barney’s defense is a shining star in an otherwise cloudy season for the 2012 Chicago Cubs. After a nondescript debut at second base in 2011, when he saved only one run defensively, Barney led all second basemen in 2012 with 28 runs saved. This total led by a wide margin. He had a lot more runs saved than defending Fielding Bible Award winner Dustin Pedroia’s total of 11, a lot more than Robinson Cano’s 15, and a lot more than Brandon Phillips’ 11. Those three came in second, third and fourth in a vote that wasn’t close; Barney received eight of ten first-place votes. Barney’s vote tabulation of 96 points was only four short of perfection.” That’s all great, and yet all I can think about is the fact that two on the panel didn’t vote Barney in first place (and, if my math is right, not in second place either – the full results will be released soon). For shame.
  • Javier Baez is trying to get used to playing third base, not only in the Arizona Fall League, but potentially long term. Although it’s still too early to talk about moving him permanently off of shortstop to accommodate Starlin Castro (or to talk about moving Castro), it is probably time to know whether Baez is going to be able to make the transition when the time comes. Given his skills at short, it shouldn’t be an issue, but it will take time and work. Baez says he’s open to the move, but that he’s got to learn the footwork and the angles at third base a little better. His manager at Daytona, Brian Harper, is Baez’s hitting coach in the AFL, and pretty much says it all (from the Tribune): “[Baez] can play shortstop. Eventually, he can play third. He’s a little uncomfortable there. He hasn’t played many games there. The angles and throws are a little different. But offensively, he’s got some talent.At his age, there’s no reason to not have him play shortstop because he’s still a couple years away from the big leagues. When he’s ready for the big leagues, then you make a decision. But right now, he’s a legitimate shortstop …. He’s got as much talent and power as any young player I’ve seen. He’s a year out of high school. This is a challenge for him, and he’s got some things to adjust and learn. The upside on him is ridiculous. It’s great.” Yay.
  • Vine Line with another of its interesting player reviews – Starlin Castro this time. I love the focus: the changes in Castro’s walk rate, and the kinds of pitches he was swinging at.
  • Mark Grace is probably out of the running for the Cubs’ color job. (I never thought he was in it.) Grace was indicted yesterday on that second DUI from earlier this year, and he faces a legitimate chance at jail time (which, and this is no comment on Grace’s situation in particular, if you have two DUIs in a 15 month span, jail time is very appropriate – it’s such a dangerous, easily-avoided crime).
  • Carrie Muskat answers questions on a variety of subjects, including a bunch of “where is this guy” kind of questions.
  • GMs and Assistant GMs voted for a post-season (as in, after the season) All-Star team, and only Mike Trout was a unanimous selection (Miguel Cabrera was actually missing quite a few votes, but what do GMs and Assistant GMs know, right?), and no Cubs made an appearance.
  • The MLBullets at BCB focus on the World Series, natch.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

42 responses to “Darwin Barney is the Best Second Baseman in Baseball and Other Bullets”

  1. gblan014

    I used to assume that Vine Line was just one big puff piece for the Cubs but it looks like it’s a really good read. I’m a bit hesitant about subscribing because the cost of the subscription almost doubles if you want it shipped where I live. Maybe they should come out with an e-version of it. Or BN should launch its own monthly magazine…

  2. Fastball

    If it was just the DUI he wouldn’t be facing jail time of more than a couple weeks most likely. The 2nd DUI in less than 2 years and also driving on a suspended license and also driving out of control are the clinchers. I saw this show on ESPN 30. A lot of players from professional sports have major problems after their playing days. Many have problems during their playing days. I was amazed at how many just plane lose their way in life. It’s the money problems, addiction to alcohol, prescription and illegal drugs. It is amazing how poorly they managed money. When it’s over it’s over. Maybe Grace needs to sit behind bars to get a reality check. It would be great if that’s all it took. I have a feeling the issue is bigger than that. I hope he gets help and I hope his family has the gumption to intervene and force him onto the right path.

  3. florida Al

    brett if the plan is to play baez at 3rd…where does villanueva fit in then??

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      Not Brett, obviously, but just because you have one minor leaguer in a skill position, it does not mean that other minor leaguers playing the same skill position do not “fit in.” In the improbable best-case scenario of both developing into good MLBers, then you move one of them to another position (2B, RF or LF), or you trade one of them for a good young starter. After all, there are about 15 good 3Bmen to divide among the 30 MLB teams: that makes them very valuable.

      1. bbmoney

        Yeah I think it’s too early to worry about “fit”. I’m more worried about talent, and if talent is there the Cubs can likely can find a spot for them.

  4. Ben (BG2383)

    Arizona is quite possibly the worst state to get a DUI, much less 2. I was told by a few friends that live in the Phoenix area that 2 DUIs would definitely get you jail time in Phoenix….I am assuming that is where he was charged…..they have the controversial sheriff Joe

    1. CubFan Paul

      Hrmmm, isn’t Arizona the tent state? Where dui offenders have to do mandatory time that includes sleeping outside or something?

      1. Ben (BG2383)

        I think that is correct Paul. I know Charles Barkley had to do jail time and some kind of labor on a first DUI there

        1. Wester

          Forget two years, my ex girlfriend got two duis in one month and the worst that happened was she became me ex girlfriend…which is, of course, way worse than jail time.

      2. Spriggs

        Like the playoffs, it will be a crapshoot for Grace on whether he does time or not. If he doesn’t plead guilty (to lesser charge(s)), he could end up doing a lot of time.

    2. bbmoney

      Good for Arizona.

      I know a couple people in the great state of Michigan who also served some jail time after a second DUI, so it might not be exclusive. Although I don’t think it’s mandatory jail time in Michigan.

      1. bluekoolaidaholic

        Sheriff Joe furnishes pink underwear, tent living, and bologna sandwiches to folks that find the Phoenix jail for whatever reason.
        After 2 DUIs in such a short time and other serious driving problems, I wonder if Gracie is considering treatment.
        If so, they will probably let him off with treatment and probation.

  5. florida Al

    ok I saw them both at daytona this year and baez seems to me to fit better at 2nd than villanueva

  6. Oliver dehart

    Bring Baez up for spring training. Take a good
    Look at him for 3rd base. If he can hit major league
    Pitching , keep him there. It’s not as if they are going
    Anywhere next year. They may have a Trout in the
    Making. A little weak defensively . Probably
    Less errors than Castro.
    if we are truly going for a youth movement…then
    Go for it.

    1. AB

      Baez should be at ST. I believe most first round picks who are bats get auto-invites no matter how far away they are.

    2. DocPeterWimsey

      Bring Baez up for spring training…. If he can hit major league
      Pitching , keep him there

      Whether Baez can hit ST pitching for a few weeks has almost zero relationship to whether he can hit MLB pitching, of which you see very little in ST. The list of guys who would have been All Stars if it were otherwise is pretty long.

      1. Carne Harris

        And vice versa. Randy Wells looked like a world beater out of ST.

    3. terencemann

      I don’t mind him getting an NRI but he’s still a little ways away from being able to handling MLB pitching.

    4. DocPeterWimsey

      Oh, and as for the Mike Trout idea, no. Here’s what Trout did at age 19 (2011) in AA: .326/.414/.544. Here is what Baez did at age 19 (2012) in A/A+: 294/.346/.543. That’s 0.07 would be impressive in the same level: but Trout did it one level up!

      Trout posted a .326/.399/.564 line in his age 20 season: and that was in MLB. We’ll all be very pleasantly surprised if Baez does that (especially the OBP part) in AA.

      This does not mean that Baez will not be a very good player. But the ship on him being a Mike Trout has already sailed. (You see about one or two Trouts per generation, after all: and, oh look, there’s Bryce Harper!)

      1. cubchymyst

        I don’t think anyone is confusing Baez for Trout. If there is anyone who does they can just look for Baez neck tattoo of the MLB logo to tell the difference.

      2. terencemann

        I hope people keep in mind that Harper, Trout, Machado, Profar and even Simmons were more advanced in their development when they were called up. Simmons is a different case because he’s more of a fielder than a hitter.

      3. ssckelley

        Most people were saying the Nats brought Bryce Harper up to fast but he panned out. Seeing this kind of success makes me wonder what would happen if they did rush Baez up but since Castro is locked in at shortstop there really is no need for this. If he does end up playing third base then he still needs to go back down to learn that position. I think 2014 is the earliest we will see Baez at the MLB level.

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          Seeing this kind of success makes me wonder what would happen if they did rush Baez up

          Probably the same thing that would have happened if you’d asked Beethoven to compose at age 7. After all, Mozart was composing at age 5, right? But that Ludwig guy turned out pretty good in the end: and his musical slash lines did get up to Mozart’s level. It just was at a much older age. (The analogies appropriate: Harper’s slash line in MLB at age 19 is not a lot worse than Baez’s slash line at the same age but in in A/A+).

          Look, the point is, do not compare players to the truly exceptional ones. We don’t have a Mike Trout or a Bryce Harper on our hands. If those two stay healthy, then they could become an MLB analog of Bird and Magic from 30 years ago. Even letting yourself suspect that starts to put an unachievable ceiling on that player. On the other hand, that does not mean that Baez will not turn out to be a very good player. (Your kid won’t be Mozart or Einstein either, btw.)

          1. ssckelley

            If the Cubs did not have Castro at shortstop I think they would have given Baez a hard look this spring. After all Castro was only 20 when they brought him up and Baez turns 20 in December. So I do not think age has anything to do with anything but it is how well does he look on the field and hitting higher level pitching. Again I think the fact that either Castro or Baez will have to play third base is what will keep Baez in the minors all next year. Plus the fact that the FO will not want to start the clock on Baez next season.

            2014 will be the earliest we will see Baez.

            1. DocPeterWimsey

              Yes, Castro was only 20. However, Castro split his age 19 season at A+ & AA, whereas Baez split his age 19 season at A & A+. So, Castro was 6-12 months further along at age 19 than Baez was.

              1. Kyle

                And between 19 and 20, Castro made the biggest offensive leap of any Cubs asset since Sosa in 1998.

    5. Chris

      There is no reason to move Baez to the ML right now. Nevermind he’s not close to being ready. Why burn up his years of control so early? If he was a missing piece on a team ready to contend, fine. The Orioles did that this year with Machado. But the Cubs should continue to approach callups like they did with Rizzo. Ensure guys are ready, and save every possible year of control on guys to keep them from leaving via free agency sooner than they should.

    6. Rcleven

      Baez is at least two years from joining the ML club. He has struggled a little in the AFL hitting in high 250′s. He is very young and facing AAA pitching at this point in has been a challenge. He has all the tools to become a very good MLB player but still is very raw and nowhere MLB ready. Getting more AB’s in the minors will be a great help.

      1. willis

        I think he rips through the minors this year and next year at some point gets the bump. JMO.

  7. Spriggs

    Speaking of Brian Harper, I’m not sure if this was announced or not, but he will be managing at AAA next year.

    1. terencemann

      I have a large place in my heart for Harper. He’s one of the best former Twins currently in the Cubs’ organization.

  8. Carne Harris

    Hope Gracie doesn’t get jail time. Don’t know about his first DUI, but his second BAC was .095 which wouldn’t even have been a crime before Arizona changed from .1 to .08.

    1. Spriggs

      but the duis aside, driving on the suspended license and without the controlling device on his vehicle won’t help his cause any.

      1. Carne Harris

        Yeah, not looking good. If he goes to prison, hopefully it’s a low security one so he doesn’t get slumpbusted.

        1. Alex

          HEY now

  9. @cubsfantroy

    As big a fan as I was of Grace, he should be in jail for a few years. People who drink and drive make me sick.

  10. Kyle

    Grace was mentoring quite a few Cubs players in the fine art of showing up hungover to day games. But remember, it was Sosa and his salsa music that was the real problem in that clubhouse…

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      Hey, Mickey Mantle hit WS home runs while hung over. But Mantle never hit one to salsa music.

    2. Kyle N

      Well. . . to be fair, have you ever tried to ready yourself for a game with salsa music blaring while you are hungover? Heh. :)

      Not pretty.