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darwin barney gold gloveWith most of the arbitration-related focus in this month of arbitration hearings going to Jeff Samardzija, I thought it worth a look at the Cubs’ other outstanding arbitration case: Darwin Barney.

Barney, 28, has effectively been the Cubs’ starting second baseman for three years now, offering fantastic defense with a digestible bat (outside of 2013). He is eligible for arbitration for the first time, and, given those three years of starting, he’s due to make a fair bit (relative to what you might otherwise expect for a first-time arb guy with his numbers). Still, as I’m looking at recent comparables, and considering Barney’s request for $2.8 million (versus the Cubs’ offer of $1.8 million), it’s looking like he overshot by a bit.

First, a look at Barney’s value.

For his career, Barney is a .246/.293/.336 hitter with a .278 wOBA and 67 wRC+. By way of reference, that wRC+ would have placed Barney in the bottom three among all qualifiers in baseball last year (Alcides Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Barney, himself). The wOBA tells the same story. In other words, over his first three years in the big leagues, Darwin Barney has been among the worst three/four/five hitters in all of baseball.

There are a few important caveats there, of course: (1) those are merely qualifiers, which means they were good enough to receive regular playing time (there are plenty of hitters worse than Barney who’ve seen some action in the last three years); (2) Barney’s career numbers are dragged down by his ungodly horrible 2013 season; and (3) most of Barney’s value comes from his time in the field, not at the plate.

To that latter point, Barney rightly won a Gold Glove in 2012 (when he was arguably the single best defensive player in all of baseball), and should have won another in 2013. On a good team with a reasonably potent lineup, Barney could comfortably start. He’d play good defense, he’d be a great guy in the clubhouse, and he’d do what he could at the bottom of the order.

Barney’s fWAR over his three seasons: 1.9, 2.3, 0.4. Given that he’s 28, without much development ahead of him, the recency effect tells us that the 2013 season should probably be weighted a little more heavily, however – at least with respect to the aspects of his performance that we trust were indicative of ability (as opposed to mere bad luck).

Arbitration salaries, however, are based not solely on performance measured against some arbitrary standard of “value.” Instead, we can make sense of what a guy should receive in a given year only when his performance is placed in the broader context of salaries for comparable players with comparable service time.

Let’s take a look at a handful of guys who’ve already agreed to deals this year. There are no perfect comparables this year for a guy like Barney, so we make do with what’s out there.

For example, we could consider someone like Daniel Descalso, who matches Barney in service time. To be sure, Descalso has not been a traditional starter, instead moving around for the Cardinals over his first few years in the league (though you could argue that his versatility should be considered a plus, not a hindrance). He’s not the glove man that Barney is, but his offensive production tops that of Barney by a considerable margin. For his career, Descalso’s got 17 points of OBP on Barney and 10 points of slugging. His wOBA of .287 and wRC+ of 81 are pretty ugly, but they’re still far better than Barney’s numbers.

Let’s be quite clear on something: Barney is more valuable than Descalso. Even by WAR, FanGraphs has Descalso’s last three seasons at barely replacement level (0.3, 0.2, -0.3). For 2014, Descalso will receive just $1.29 million. Considering the body of work, is Barney worth more than twice as much as Descalso? Maybe he is.

Consider 2B/SS Jed Lowrie. This year, his final trip through arbitration, Lowrie will get $5.25 million. Last year, however, as a second time arbitration player, Lowrie received just $2.4 million. That was coming off a 2.6 WAR, .336 wOBA, 111 wRC+ season – and, again, it was his second time through arbitration. The first go-around, Lowrie received just $1.15 million, primarily because he hadn’t yet established himself as a starter and was coming off a down year. Of course, even then his career line was .252/.324/.408.

Consider Sean Rodriguez, another utility player, who has played all over for the Rays. Although he played in just 96 games last year (1.1 WAR), he did play over 110 games in each of the preceding three years for the Rays before he hit arbitration for the first time, posting WAR of 2.1, 2.0, and 0.7 in those years. It’s a similar value trajectory to what Barney has provided for the Cubs in his first three years, and Rodriguez had a batting line similar to Barney’s through 2012, as well (.225/.301/.356). Yet in his first arbitration year, Rodriguez received just $1 million. This year, he’ll get just $1.475 million.

In terms of production and value, Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada provides a solid comparable: he was worth 1.6 and 1.8 WAR in 2011 and 2012 before a disastrous year at the plate in 2013 cratered him to -0.3 WAR. His career offensive numbers - .259/.323/.319, .289 wOBA, 81 wRC+ – are superior to Barney’s, and he’s been doing it at shortstop (although he spent some time at second base earlier in his career). The main problem with the Tejada comp is that he has not reached three years of service time, and is a Super Two. He’ll get $1.1 million for 2014.

I could go on with a few more, but I think you’re getting the picture: Barney’s ask for $2.8 million is aggressive, and presumably relies strongly on (1) Barney’s elite defense, and (2) Barney’s three straight years as a full-time starter. We can debate whether number two is a legitimate reason for a player to receive a higher salary, but it is a factor in the arbitration process. The caliber of Barney’s glove relative to the comparables can’t be understated, though we also can’t ignore the offensive travails.

Based on all of the above, my gut says Barney’s expected salary in the first go-around of arbitration probably should have been in the $2 to $2.2 million range (making him better paid than all of the above, when similarly-situated), so I’m unsurprised to see that MLBTR projected his salary at $2.1 million at the outset of the offseason. On the whole, I think those projections probably underestimated the climbing market (which trickles down to arbitration players), so maybe $2.2 to $2.3 million for Barney is not unreasonable. And, hey, what do you know? The midpoint between Barney’s ask and the Cubs’ offer is $2.3 million.

In arbitration, I think the Cubs probably win this one at $1.8 million, versus Barney at $2.8 million (remember: the arbitrator can choose only one figure – there is no middle ground in an arbitration). That said, I bet the two sides still figure out a way to settle, perhaps for a touch below the midpoint.

  • MightyBear

    This one is easy. Give him 2 million with incentives for games played. Max value at 2.35.

  • Jon

    He should get nothing and like it.

    • DarthHater

      Theo Corleone: “My final offer is this: nothing. Not even the fee for the arbitrator, which I would appreciate if you would put up personally.”

  • Cubsin

    Show him Alcantara’s ZIPS projection, then offer him $2 million.

    • J. L.

      Nice.

    • Baseball_Writes

      Haha. I like this.

  • itzscott

    Theo: “Darwin, here’s a dime…. go call your mother and tell her that you’re not going to be making $2 million this year.”

    • frank

      Theo Kingsfield . . .

      • DarthHater

        Mister … Baaaaaaaarney. Please relate the salient facts in the case of Kershaw versus Barney.

  • aaronb

    This is part of my fundamental dislike of using WAR as a catch all of player value. No way that a guy playing 2nd base with the worst bat in baseball should show this kind of value.

    It’s a simple flaw in the system because DWar is so erratic from season to season. Beef Wellington is another culprit this year.

    Just as Brent Gardner was a top 10 player in baseball a few years ago. There are holes in the statistic.

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      Holes, yes. But what data would you point to that he’s not worth those wins? And he has one of the worst bats of qualifiers… not in all the league. But it sounds like your gut doesn’t like what the stats suggest so you call the stats flawed. They ARE flawed, but I’m bettting they’re less flawed than your or my gut.

    • MightyBear

      Tell that to Ozzie Smith, Mark Belanger, Bobby Grich and Brooks Robinson.

      • aaronb

        Belanger is the only comp even close to Barney

        CAreer OPS+

        Robinson 104

        Smith 87 with 4 years over 100

        Grich 125

        Belanger 68

        Barney 71

        So we need to reach back to a guy who played a more demanding defensive position 40 years ago to find a “Darwin Barney is useful” comp.

        • MightyBear

          “No way that a guy playing 2nd base with the worst bat in baseball should show this kind of value.”

          The point of the list is most of the value of these guys on the list was not from their bat.

          And Smith’s 4 years over 100 was later in his career when he would slap the ball off the astroturf at Bush and run like hell. Look at his OPS+ with San Diego in his first few years in the bigs.

          • aaronb

            Smith also played a much more demanding defensive position and stole 580 bases.

            Darwin Barney had a 56 OPS+ last year. I’d venture to guess he was in reality the worst starter in MLB.

            • When The Musics Over

              If Darwin Barney is as valuable as some people think he is, he would be on another team right now.

              • aaronb

                Exactly,

                I’m semi shocked he wasn’t a non-tender. The cynic in me thinks he only got a contract offer because he is a fan favorite.

              • MightyBear

                “If Darwin Barney is as valuable as some people think he is, he would be on another team right now.”

                What the hell does that mean? I don’t think Barney is that good and personally I’ll be glad when he’s gone so we don’t have these discussions but he’s worth 2 million in today’s market. Bench guys with average defense and poor bats get 2 million. Average salary is 4 million.

                • Drew7

                  Apples and oranges: Barney is in his 1st year of arbitration. You can’t compare his salary to an average that includes FA’s.

                  • MightyBear

                    Well according to the folks above, you can’t use WAR. What would you use? What does Barney get in first year of arb? What’s your backup? Easy to criticize.

                    • Drew7

                      I’m not critizing you, MB, just pointing out why you can’t pay 1st yr arb players $X based on the average of all players.

                      It’d be like Epstein saying to Barney, “Well, Mike Trout made $500K last year, so I’d say you should be paying US!”

                • When The Musics Over

                  I wasn’t trying to be nasty. I meant that if barney was pretty good, with the stacked infield prospects the Cubs have coming up through the farm system offering them multiple high end options at 2b and Watkins and valbuena near term potential replacements for Barney, the Cubs would have very likely cashed in on a trade. Since they didn’t, I’m guessing interest on him was very tepid, kick-the-tires for ultra cheap type interest.

              • SenorGato

                Why would anyone believe that to be true? The guys the Cubs have traded make millions more and older.

                • SenorGato

                  *and are older.

                • When The Musics Over

                  See my above response.

                • When The Musics Over

                  Also, if he was good, his cheapness would have made him even more attractive in a trade.

  • cubs2003

    Barney is an interesting player to me. Great glove, obviously, but do the Cubs really want to carry that bat? I guess they’ll struggle offensively either way. He seems like a great dude, but that doesn’t create runs. If I remember correctly, there were a few teams looking to upgrade SS at the deadline in 2012. It seems to me that would have been the best use of his skills. At this point, he’s probably stuck at 2B. I wish the best for the guy, but I’m not sure he’s worth almost 3M. Part of me wonders if he’d be here if the Cubs had more faith in Castro mentally.

    • IA_Colin

      The article above basically outlined why he’s not going to make 2.8 million and also implied that he’s never going to break the bank through arbitration. He’s a fine guy for the Cubs, just not in a starting role. He’s not being maximized at shortstop or in the utility role. I think that’s going to change this season. I’m actually surprised the Cubs countered as high as they did.

      Last year he had his worst offensive season. Yet he put up a wRC+ of 94. That’s about league average to go with plus plus defense and positive value on the basepaths AND at positions of high value (SS/2B probably 3B) . He could be a 1-2 war player off the bench if used correctly.

      • Drew7

        wRC+ of 94? I see 51, which is horrid no matter how you slice it.

        • IA_Colin

          whoops missed typing in the *platoon part

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        He had a 94 against lefties, but that was only 143 PA. Against right handers (412 PA) he had… believe it not… a wRC+ of just 35.

        As a platoon guy playing just against lefties, Barney could be roughly league average at the plate.

        • Diehardthefirst

          What if buys into Muellers idea of switch hitting and hits better against righties? And against righties? He could settle arbitration with modest one year raise but with significant increases next 3 yrs tied to success as switch hitter

          • IA_Colin

            Weirdly he did switch hit at Oregon but no he’s not going to just become a switch hitter in the majors. If there is even one example of that happening in the last 20 years I will be amazed.

            • Diehardthefirst

              Don Kessinger

              • IA_Colin

                That was nearly 50 years ago. Good example but baseball has changed from then in my opinion. An example within 20 years would hold more water.

                • Diehardthefirst

                  He’s entering prime years and would be more valuable as .250 switch hitter if equal vs both provided keeps good D – if Castro grows up they could be decent combo over next 3 yrs

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                    This is true. If he could suddenly become a good enough switch hitter he could hit .250 from both sides of the plate (with reasonable OBP and SLG numbers as well) while playing very good defense he would in fact be more valuable.

                    I suspect he knows that.

                    And he’s a smart guy.

                    Which makes me think the reason he isn’t switch hitting in the majors is that he just isn’t good enough at switch hitting.

                    Then again, with a wRC+ against right handers of just 35, he can’t exactly get all that much worse.

                    • IA_Colin

                      That 35 reeeeaaallly sticks out. It even makes me question their philosophy and could be why Sveum and Theo had a big conflict. 100 is average…50 is half of average…25 is 1/4th. He was literally (almost) 1/4th of the value of any average player…Barney kept starting while Watkins rode pine.

                    • aaronb

                      I doubt you can hang that on Sveum…Dale is gone and Theo is tendering Barney a 2 million dollar contract in arbitration.

        • Diehardthefirst

          It’s been long day- against lefties also – you knew what I meant

        • IA_Colin

          His numbers might swing a little more positively but not by much. He’s a good guy to have getting 250 PA a season. Replaceable? Very much so, I think he’s the 25th guy right now. If a someone (Olt, Watkins, Alcantara) rips up spring training then I think he is off to another team.

          I just glanced at his career against lefties…that 94 is a little high so he may regress on that split. Case for keeping him is getting slim.

  • troybulletinboard

    I hope Darwin wins. He’s a hard working man and deserves every dollar he can get, just like the rest of us.

    • Spoda17

      I like Barney, but there is a big difference between “every dollar he can get,” and every dollar he has earned. The argument is not entitlement, it’s what he has earned.

      • troybulletinboard

        tell me more mr science.

    • mjhurdle

      But by paying Barney more, that is more money that comes out of the pockets of other people in the organization.
      I hope Barney loses. The rest of the Cub’s organization are hard-working people and deserve every dollar they can get, just like the rest of us. :)

      • DarthHater

        Perhaps more to the point, by paying Barney more, the team will be worse, which means less fan interest and hence less money for all Cubs-related businesses and their employees.

      • troybulletinboard

        whose pocket is Barney reaching into? the billionaire owner or one of the other billionaire owners, is that who you’re referring to?

        • Wilburthefirst

          … he’s reaching into a pocket that is not his, regardless.

          The system will pay him handsomely and if he feels he did not get what he fully deserves this year he is a FA next year where he can offer his very good glove and hopefully increased batting stats to one and all …

        • hansman

          Whoever’s pocket he is reach into, the money was earned by someone.

  • mike

    I think you can cut an arb guy in ST and only be on the hook for 25% of his salary (if that percent is wrong please correct me). I’d just as soon see us cut Barney if he’s gonna make 2.8. He wouldn’t get that on the open market.

    • aaronb

      Last time I remember it happening was the Padres cutting Todd Walker before opening day. He won 3.95 million in Arb, and they punted him for 970K.

      http://riveraveblues.com/tag/todd-walker/

    • Cubz99

      There is no way the Cubs should pay Barney close to $2.8MM for the production that he provides. Especially when there are other in house options already on the roster. I agree with Mike, if he wins at the arb hearing I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Cubs cut him.

    • D-Rock

      Agreed. Trade or cut or at very least, bench role- his bat is a huge liability.

  • Fastball

    I think Barney had to play the Ask vs Get game. He asks $2.8MM knowing he isn’t getting that number. I think he settles at $2.3MM ish. For me that’s fair enough.. Lots of guys in this league getting a lot more and much less valuable.

    • SenorGato

      This is almost definitely it, as it is in pretty much every arb case ever.

  • TSB

    As the Cubs aren’t suppose to contend in 2014 with or without Barney, negotiate a salary for next year, see if his bat improves, and if not, dump him before 2015.

  • Jon

    Been reading that Nelson Cruz has resigned him self to accepting he may only get a 2 year deal, would like to see the Cubs get in if thats the case.

    • aaronb

      So would I

    • IA_Colin

      Why would you want Nelson Cruz? I think the second round pick has more value than 2 years and 30ish million of a guy that brings power but low OBP, bad baserunning and terrible defense. I don’t think its a fit even if the Cubs had a semi contending roster.

      • aaronb

        He’d be the best offensive player on the roster. He’d be a solid veteran bridge player. He’d lessen the burden of production on guys like Rizzo, Castro and eventually Baez and Bryant.

        And he blocks absolutely nobody over the next two years.

        Why not sign him? (even though we won’t….because he won’t play for nothing)

        • mjhurdle

          I think the issue is not wanting to pay 15ish million for 3+ years for a guy who literally has one skill. Not too mention that skill was never elite, and was enhanced by PED use.

          • IA_Colin

            There is definitely value to a bridge player. Although difficult to quantify aaronb makes some good points. Something has to be said about relieving the stress or burden from the younger players. If they try to overcompensate and do too much then chances are it will be negative in the long run. Think about being the best player on your little league team that loses every game, multiply by a a lot. The money doesn’t seem too big since if he plays well then they would be able to trade him on that little of a contract.

            If Chicago believed more in this approach then I think Soriano would’ve stayed. Personally I still wouldn’t have sign him but only because I believe the platoon system (Schierholtz/Ruggiano) will actually surprise. Guess he could take Lake’s spot. I also don’t like the draft pick loss.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Facepalm.

    The sabermagicians LIKE stats when it suits there needs and puke all over them when they don’t. Here’s the thing about Darwin Barney that goes non-discussed…he was / is a talented and valuable utility infielder type who was thrust into a starting role the past few seasons out of sheer necessity. Is it Barney’s fault?!? Hell no. Should Barney be compensated for what his role is expected to be again in 2014 and in like of what the sabermagic says? Hell yes.

    You can’t have it both ways boys and girls. Barney is going to be the starting 2nd baseman AGAIN out of necessity…at least to start the 2014 season. On some level cut the poor guy a break.

    • bbmoney

      I’m not intimidated by the sabermagicians because i got my OWLs from Hogwarts.

      • Professional High A

        +1

      • hansman

        Question is, what OWL did you get for Saber?

        • DarthHater

          The Superb Owl.

          • hansman

            I see what you did there and I kindly ask that you never do that again. Ever.

    • ChrisFChi

      I agree with almost all of this. I hope he turns his offense around.

    • http://kempfintl.com pfk

      I agree. It isn’t always about the bat. He brings alot to the table…the glue and leader of the infield, he keeps Starlin awake, very smart baserunner, plays hard all the time, will be a great utility guy once Alcantara comes up. $2M is well worth it. He was hurt to start the year last year and then they started screwing around with his hitting trying to make him a pull hitter. I’ll bet Bill Mueller turns him around to be .245 or so. I’ll take that and all his other pluses any day.

    • hansman

      “The sabermagicians LIKE stats when it suits there needs and puke all over them when they don’t.”

      As a 17th level Sabermagician (please capitalize, it insults us otherwise), I can confidently say that we always like statistics, hell, the more the merrier!!!

      Now, we may think that those statistics say that a player isn’t good or is due for worse performance in the future or that a player is due for better performance in the future because of XYZ but just because you disagree with the conclusion, doesn’t mean you have to act like a dickwad about it.

    • mjhurdle

      multiple mentions of the evil of “sabermagicians” in the same day?

      I think we found Blackhawks new obsession.

    • Drew7

      Those “sabermagicians” are the ones that are in his corner because of the value his defense brings.

      Both Sabr and Traditional-type fans know he can’t hit his way out of a wet paper bag.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Sorry, but that’s utter rubbish. We dismiss the stats that are known to not be predictive and focus on the ones that are.

      • Blackhawks1963

        So some like to rip the crap out of Barney. As if it’s his adult he plays on a rotten big league roster and has been thrust into being an everyday player despite being “offensively chalenged.” On any good team where Barney can be used as a utility infielder then he is well worth a $2-3 million annual pricetag.

        So I guess the Mensa Society can keep ripping the piss out of Barney as they surely live under the delusion that Ryne Sandberg and Manny Trillo in their primes are rotting away underutilized on the Cub roster.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          I’m having trouble following you here.

          The more statistically inclined fans are the ones arguing that Barney is worth the contract Brett proposes – something in the low $2 million range.
          – But you are attacking the statisticians and appear to believe they are dismissing Barney.

          You claim that statisticians selective ignore numbers they don’t like, and Doc calls that out as nonsense (and it is, by the way, utter and complete rubbish).
          – And you respond by saying that (inferring here) people who agree with Doc must believe that Barney is devalued because he is starting when his skillset is best used off the bench and that they must feel that the Cubs have a future Hall of Fame second baseman on the roster as a result.

          It really looks like you are replying to what you wish people would say, or what you think they might actually mean, or what someone else somewhere else said, instead of what was actually said in the comment you reply to. And it makes your comments hard to follow.

          At this stage I think you actually agree with the statistically inclined fans, but you are working so hard to invent ways to attack that crowd that it is really hard for me to be sure.

          • Blackhawks1963

            Crikey. What I said is clear. I think it is silly how Barney is a whipping boy. It’s not his fault that the big league roster has lacked adequate quality, thereby thrusting a utility type into everyday duty for 3 years running. I like the guy. I’m sure he’d be the first to say he struggles to hit.

            • CubFan Paul

              “I’m sure he’d be the first to say he struggles to hit.”

              He’s a competitor, so I doubt it.

            • ClevelandCubsFan

              If you were misunderstood, then you clearly weren’t clear enough.

          • baldtaxguy

            Agreed. Not sure I see the commentary that requires bitching. He’ll land (likely) between $2m-$3m and deserves it, as a “thrusted starter” or otherwise.

  • terencemann

    He’ll get a good bit of money because of the amount of playing time he gets and because of all of the quotes about his defense and value to the team. It’s the Jeff Mathis strategy.

    • Pat

      I agree. The best arguement from Barney’s camp is, if he not very good why has he started almost every game for the last three years? Now on the other side, Arb1 should theoretically pay 40% of free agent value. I’m not sure a starting, but not above average, FA 2b gets paid 7.2 mil a year. I think it’s unlikely with his offensive numbers no matter how good the glove is.

      I’m not one of the ones on the bandwagon of why didn’t Watkins get more starts at the end of last year, but I think that if he had this is a different negotiation.

  • JulioZuleta

    Ironically, Emilio Bonifacio’s 2011 salary is terrible for Barney. His numbers are far better than Barney’s. Ironic because I could see Bonifacio replacing Barney shortly.

  • ColoCubFan

    If this was 5 years ago, and nobody had ever heard of WARs and FIPs and all these other tommyrot statistics, Barney would get $2.8M when described as a .250 hitting Gold Glove 2nd baseman.

    • aaronb

      Doubtful, 5-10 years ago there is no way his bat would stay in an MLB lineup.

      • Drew7

        He’d have been hitting 25 bombs a year though.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Can’t find Bellyfire stat? Worth at least 200K

    • TWC

      … which is only slightly higher than what Barney’s offense is actually worth.

  • Sterling Archer

    Remember when Ryan Theriot asked for way too much in arbitration and got himself shipped out of town?

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      Yeah. Claimed he was curious about how the process worked and wanted to see it through. Note to self: intentionally creating unnecessary work for my boss that involves him needing to find ways to diminish my skills as a professional is not typically in my best interest.

      • ClevelandCubsFan

        Also I think it was the ONLY time Hendry ever went to arbitration with a Cub

  • DCF

    “On a good team with a reasonably potent lineup, Barney could comfortably start.”

    No, never, not at all. Come on Brett, you wrote yourself, thta Barney has bee among the bottom of starting 2nd basemen for years. Which means nothing less than he would not even be a starter on an average or somewhat subpar team, let alone a good one.
    His defense and all in nice and he might be decent utility player, but no way in hell should he be starting 2nd baseman for any MLB team. EVen for the 2014 Cubs, where it doesn’t matter anyway if he ever hits a ball in the whole season, he’d still be taking up space that could be used otherwise, i.e. for calling up prospects.

    • baldtaxguy

      I think the point is a potent lineup would not need to rely on offense from the 2B spot and would have the luxury of “devoting” the position to a defensive specialist at the expense of offense…because the lineup is already potent.

      • Voice of Reason

        Theres no question that a team with a great offense could put a defensive specialist at any position.

        Barney is what he is.

        The Yankees could have had him for a bag of balls yet opted to sign perennial d.l. guy Brian Roberts instead…

      • DCF

        I get the point, but I think it’s completely wrong. Putting Barney on the field when there are much, much better options available (i.e. most other 2B regulars) would be simply stupid. Unless you are garantueed to win the world series, no team could “afford” to field a bad player just for the hell of it.
        And his defense doesn’t make up for his lack of offense. I’m too lazy to look up the numbers, but I’m sure even when going by WAR, which includes his defensive excellence, he would be a subpar starter for any above-average team.

        • baldtaxguy

          I don’t think anyone is suggesting adding a light-hitting defensive player to the line-up is done on purpose, or that a team actually could “afford” to do so, but such a player may be the only or best option and only the potent offensive teams can go that route, vs. the Cubs really cannot, but Barney has been their only viable option. Not really disagreeing with you, just recognizing how a Barney-type player could (rather than should) be an every-day starter.

          • Eternal Pessimist

            …and there are other, slightly better hitting second basemen out there who woul cost you. Lot more runs defensively…not a huge barney fan, but i don’t see many external 1 year options worth pursuing and i wouldn’t be surprised to see barney platooned or replaced in-house by year end.

    • Chad

      This assumes the prospects are ready. When one is ready barney will be on the bench or gone. He is a good place holder until one is ready to perform at the no level.

  • Zoolander

    You guys are way to critical on Barney. Since the Cubs have been terrible over the past few seasons, especially in scoring runs, then lighter hitting but great defensive players seem to have no value, but they do.

    I seen Barney trying to hit for more power this past season which did not work out well for him. His strikeouts were way up. He needs to stick to his game and hit for a solid average and get on base. Leave it up to the boys behind you to drive in more runs.

    • Edwin

      Barney’s OBP in his first 3 full seasons: .313, .299, and .266. His BA: .276, .254, and .208. Getting on-base or hitting for average has never been his game.

      I don’t think people are being too critical of Barney. He is who he is. Just calling it like I see it. If he can get his wRC+ back up to around 70, and isn’t paid too much, you don’t mind him in your lineup. It’d be nice to upgrade him if you could, but he won’t be a complete black hole. If he hits closer to what he hit last season, then any value he produces on defense is easily netted out by his atrocious offense, and he needs to be replaced.

    • Jason P

      “offering fantastic defense with a digestible bat” – I like your use of the word digestible :)

    • Voice of Reason

      Zoolander:

      If we were being critical we would be saying that he should be hitting better. Nobody is saying that. All we are saying is that he is great defensively and cannot hit. It’s hard to make it as an everyday player in the bigs when all you can do is field a ground ball. He could stick as a defensive replacement, but that’s it!

  • Zoolander

    Guys I hear you. On a great team, Barney offers more value, especially with his glove. Please note that Theriot did win TWO World Series Championships on two very good teams, so there is value there for a descent, but not great middle infielder that can play solid defense. His shortcomings are only glaring more than ever on a team that did not hit very well and therefore did not score a ton of runs.

  • Voice of Reason

    Zoolander:

    Dude, Theriot hasn’t been a full time starter since the Cubs shipped him out.

    And, Theriot sports a .281 lifetime batting average and .341 OBP. Barney’s offensive numbers are just that… offensive!

    Theriot gets to play more because of his stick than his glove.

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