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emilio bonifacio royalsSeems like an appropriate time to remind folks that there’s a commenting policy at this here place, and you are expected to know it/adhere to it. Three things you agree not to do, that I’ll highlight:

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  • Quick Emilio Bonifacio analysis: we should take a look at some of his projections for the 2014 season, as they haven’t been discussed around here (since he was signed after the projections came out). ZiPS – projecting him with the Royals in the Royals’ ballpark, mind you – sees Bonifacio as a .258/.315/.339 guy this year, with 31 SB against 8 CS. Similarly, PECOTA has him at .261/.318/.335, with 26 SB and 6 CS. That’s not a great player, but it’s above replacement-level, and the projections are better than those for Darwin Barney (.253/.299/.349 from ZiPS, .248/.291/.342 from PECOTA). I have no doubt that Barney has the better glove, though Bonifacio is at least average defensively at second (and he brings a baserunning ability that Barney doesn’t have). I’m not saying Bonifacio should be the starting second baseman (depending on what happens at third, you could make an argument for Luis Valbuena), but I do think it’s reasonable for there to be a discussion.
  • If you’re looking for a reason to believe 2011 Bonifacio (.296/.360/.393) could return this year, Mark Gonzalez reports that the thumb and knee injuries that curtailed his 2012 season bled into the offseason and contributed to his slow start with the Blue Jays in 2013 (after a mid-season trade to the Royals, Bonifacio’s numbers once again resembled the 2011 guy). Of course, if you’re looking for a reason to believe that 2011 Emilio Bonifacio was a blip, you could point to his .372 BABIP, which is a full 40 points higher than his career average.
  • Jason Hammel looks and feels good so far in camp. Recall, he had some forearm issues last year and some teams were a little nervous about signing him, so his Spring health is a notable thing to follow.
  • Anthony Rizzo isn’t making too many mechanical adjustments to his swing this year, just quieting his hands at the plate a bit.
  • Ryan Sweeney added weight this offseason, but he says it’s good, muscle mass, which could help his power.
  • Everybody likes Carlos Villanueva. With his facial hair, how could you not?
  • Todd Hollandsworth is the next person to join WGN’s new FM radio station, where he’ll have a weekend show and serve as something of a baseball insider.
  • Folks get tired of hearing “best shape of his life” stories in Spring Training, but it’s certainly better than hearing that one of your young players (Jesus Montero of the Mariners, in this case) showed up to camp 40(!) pounds over his target weight.
  • Over at the Message Board, BN’er Chris Neitzel discusses why today’s top Cubs prospects are not yesterday’s top Cubs prospects, in no small part because rankings have improved dramatically.
  • Jim

    Fangraphs has Barney projected to be the better player (1.1/0.8 WAR vs 0.0/0.2 WAR), for what that’s worth.

    • Edwin

      The Steamer of 0 is due to projecting him only 1 PA. Oliver is projecting a wRC+ of 66, which is strange to me since he’s been above 70 the past 4 seasons.

      I don’t think it really matters who starts. It’s at least nice that the Cubs have some depth, so they can give players like Castro or Rizzo more off days.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Not sure those are accounting for playing time – the 0.0 one has Bonifacio at 1 plate appearance (if I’m looking in the right spot).

      • Edwin

        Barney: Steamer has 536 PA with wRC+ of 74, Oliver has 600 PA with wRC+ of 70.

        Bonifacio: Steam has 1 PA at 81 wRC+, Oliver has 600 PA with wRC+ of 66.

      • Jim

        Good point on the Steamer. My bad. As Edwin states, the Oliver comparison still plays.

  • CubFan Paul

    Sweeney was projected to have above average power coming up. Fingers crossed.

  • Edwin

    Because it’s Friday, and only because it’s Friday, I shall choose to believe every single “he’s in better shape” rumor, for today only.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Well, then you’ve got a great one coming in about 45 minutes.

      • Edwin

        Kyle Hendricks has a robot arm and can now throw 95+?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Pfft. 95 is nothing. He’s up to 145 mph. Only problem now is figuring out a glove for Welington Castillo so each pitch doesn’t break his hand.

          • Picklenose

            You mean he throws almost as fast as Puig drives?

            • mjhurdle

              BAZINGA!!

          • Danny Ballgame

            Sitting consistently at 145? Or just when he needs a little extra zip ?

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Sitting. He could get it up to 180 if the Cubs put him in the pen.

              • Joshua Edwards

                That’s a curious scouting report, Mr. Plimpton. Does this mean Hendricks slots in ahead of Sidd Finch on your prospect list?

      • Edwin

        Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arreita had a Freaky Friday moment?

      • Edwin

        Brett Jackson had a DUI this offseason which led to him coaching an unlikely group of urban youth to a state championship, and making him realize that to win all he needs to do is just have fun and play the game the way he did when he was a kid?

        • cubsfan08

          I just have to add to that…can you believe an actual kids movie (Disney) starts off with a main character getting a DUI as the storyline?!?!? Unbelievable how quickly things change that are considered socially acceptable!

          Great movie

  • Spoda17

    I know we discussed this a lot last year, but Villanueva always seems very positive and says the “right” things… He seems like a good dude, and it also seems he is somewhat of an informal leader. I hope we are in a position to [not] flip him… for multiple reasons.

    • Edwin

      I actually don’t mind keeping him around as the swing man in the pen.

  • CubFan Paul

    Bonifacio does have intriguing spits with those miserable April-June months.

  • CubChymyst

    I think Sweeney could fill in a role similar to DeJesus before he left, a good solid 2-3 war player. If Scheirholtz has a similar year and Lake or Ruggiano has a good year there is a possibility that we could see an improvement in the outfield production over last year. Especially since we won’t be running Sappelt or Harrison out there.

    • baldtaxguy

      Ughh…Sappelt. That was painful to watch.

    • C. Steadman

      this is my stance, it’ll be interesting bc our outfield does have some very good upside, huge fan of the Ruggiano trade and Lake was exciting in the SSS last year, hopefully continues this year..and I’m a fan of Nate

  • http://BN Sacko

    I’m going with the thought that Olt starts in AAA, while the Bonifacio Barney Murphy Valbaena gets sorted out in the majors. And I really mean sorting OUT for some.

    • baldtaxguy

      I agree this seems likely. Olt would need to make a case for something different by way of an awesome Spring.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Sweeny was on a roll before he got injured. It could be really big if he could do something similar to what Schierholtz did last year. I think Bonafacio could be valuable in whatever capacity they employ him in, but with the platoon at third it seems that we are taking up a spot on the 24 man roster that we could use to carry another pitcher. I think they need to reach some kind of consensus about what they want to do with Barney. He has been a really class act so I hope when something does happen it doesn’t tarnish the relationship he has had in Chicago. I have to think that with the pickup of Bonafacio that they are looking to move him at some point. The guy I was wondering about is Carlos Villanueva. With the Rangers looking for pitching maybe we could get a viable prospect for him. I like Villanueva, but with guys like Grimm, Hendricks and Viscaino available I think that is a move we could make.

  • RoscoeVillageFan

    That Montero article is just sad…and I agree, “Shame on you, Jesus”

  • Kyle

    Those slash lines are pretty close to indistinguishable. Barney’s defense *clearly* tips the scales.

    I look forward to the day when we have a better starting 2b than Darwin Barney on the roster, but that day is not here with the arrival of Emilio Bonifacio.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Not so sure I’d say they’re close to indistinguishable – the SLG is very close, and Bonifacio has 20 points of OBP. That’s pretty significant.

  • RoscoeVillageFan

    Plus, how many times do they reference “Zero Expectations” for Montero? Wow. That organization vexes me

  • Bradley Woodrum

    I’d much rather see Ryan Roberts given a serious chance at the 2B job. He’s a solid fielder with much greater offensive potential than either player — and he can murder lefties, which is a nice little bonus.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Would be nice to be able to carry him (to play him against lefties, at least), but PECOTA, at least, sees him right down there in the same range of production as the other two (slightly worse). Interestingly, his last good season – 2011 – was the same year as Bonifacio’s, and featured an identical 109 wRC+ (but with a sustainable BABIP).

  • TommyK

    Does Barney have any trade value at all at his current salary? If so, the Cubs should probably explore this. If not, I wonder if the better option would have been to non-tender him. I like him and love his glove, but the bat is just so horrendous. This team looks to be so offensively challenged that I don’t think it can tolerate Barney’s bat in the lineup. He’d be a better fit on a team like the Yankees, which should be able to score runs but has atrocious defense in the infield.

    The scary thing is that the winner of the Barney vs. Bonifacio battle will be in the conversation for the number 2 spot in the batting order. Holy cow is this team going to struggle to score runs. I need to stop before I have another panic attack.

    • Kyle

      A little. But they aren’t trading him yet because he’s still the best 2b option on the roster.

      But regardless: High-offense teams don’t get more value from defensive players than low-offense teams do. You don’t get bonus runs for being balanced. If anything, high-offense teams would benefit more from a high-offense player due to the clustering effect.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        “If anything, high-offense teams would benefit more from a high-offense player due to the clustering effect.”

        Off-topic, but this is an underappreciated point when it comes to discussing teams’ transactions, with respect to adding an offensive player versus a pitcher, for example. Specifically, I’m thinking about what the Rangers did this offseason – I could argue that spending $15 million on a bat would return more for them, specifically, than an equally-valuable $15 million arm. Think I’m right about that?

        • Kyle

          My guess is that the effect is probably too small to be noticeable, but I don’t have anything handy that studies it that would prove it one way or another.

          Regardless, there’s *definitely* no “great offense, so can afford to carry a bad bat” effect.

          • Kyle

            Although I think there *might* be a bit of a diminishing return in the outfield on defense, so that you can get a little more value out of a great defensive centerfielders if you don’t have any other great defensive outfielders.

            • Edwin

              I thought that there was some kind of diminishing return, at least in terms of defense in general.

          • C. Steadman

            also home runs are rally killers, thats why you want cluster :)

      • Sandberg

        Link on clustering effect? I’d like to read more.

        • Kyle

          I don’t have anything handy. But the simple truth at the bottom of it is that a positive baseball offensive event is more valuable when it happens near another positive event.

          One hit per inning for nine innings in a row probably yields you nothing. Nine hits in a row followed by nine innings of nothing yields an above-average offense.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Clustering also helps itself, because having runners on base tends to make it slightly easier to get hits.

          • Joshua Edwards

            I have seen mention of the clustering effect in a few today, and I want to know more.

            I mean, the idea makes total sense. But is there some evidence to support it? Anyone have more info/links to relevant articles? I’d love to get more background.

      • TommyK

        I was thinking more of Barney fitting with the Yankees as a defensive replacement. Their infield defense is so bad I would think they would want to make some moves late in games when they have a small lead. The Cubs are unlikely to ever need a defensive replacement because they don’t figure to have many leads and their infield defense is passable.

    • sleepy

      On a related note, is there any reason to hope the Barney turns it around a little bit offensively this year? There has been plenty written about the failure of the core young guys to develop offensively last year. I think the point can be made that Barney fits as much into that core group as a few other more mentioned players.

  • Javier Bryant

    Hopefully Barney has a good start to the season and helps rebuild some of that trade value

  • http://BN Sacko

    Jackson to Texas anyone?

  • sewalson

    My perspective on This article is why not start Emilio… We know what we have in Barney, which is to say we have nothing aside from a great glove. We are starved for offense and Emilio, while not a certainty, could provide more offense. He walks a decent amount and has a ton of speed. Barney, doesn’t walk, or run and if he hits .250 we would be ecstatic. Emilio on the other hand has had very successful seasons and isn’t difficult to see going .265/.320 or higher with 30 steals, with a possibility of like .280/.340.

    So with that I say go for it.

  • CubsFaninMS

    That is very Jerome Waltonesque of Jesus Montero.

  • Noah_I

    First, saying we’d be ecstatic if Barney hit .250 is a vast overstatement. He hit .276 in 2011 and .254 in 2012. I’d expect him to hit in the .250-.260 range based on his contact rate. If he put up a .276 average again, I’d be ecstatic.

    I’d favor giving Barney the starting spot because: (a) we can still get Bonifacio’s bat in all over the field; and (b) Bonifacio as a utility man gives us more flexibility with our fifth outfielder.

    On the first point: as the sixth infielder/utility man, it’s a legitimate argument Bonifacio could see 4-5 games per week between 2B, 3B, and the three outfield positions. If Barney becomes the sixth infielder, he is solely a late innings defensive replacement at 2B and occasional backup.

    Second, I have a feeling the Cubs favor Ryan Kalish as the fifth outfielder if he shows anything of value. If they want to be able to keep Kalish on the team, they’d have 3 left handed outfielders and 2 right handed outfielders, and none of the left handed outfielders are guys you want to run out against same handed pitchers that often. Bonifacio’s ability to switch hit will give them more flexibility on that front.

    • CubFan Paul

      “we’d be ecstatic if Barney hit .250 is a vast overstatement”

      Not if he has a .280-.290 OBP

      • Noah_I

        That’s supposed to be a response to someone above, whose comment I cannot find right now, and I’m not sure where it is. He said we’d be ecstatic if Barney posted a .250 average, and I was saying that we wouldn’t. We’d kind of expect it, and yeah, that would be with a .280 to .290 OBP. If he bats something like .275 like he did in 2011, which I think would be Barney’s ceiling, you’d be looking at an OBP in the .305-.320 range, which I’d be thrilled with from Barney, as it could up his trade value a bit at least.

        • C. Steadman

          Barney’s walk rate suggests a tad over 300 OBP if he bats 250…if he hits 275 it’ll be around 325

    • C. Steadman

      Bonifacio’s splits are better against LHPs too so that is a good point that he could fill in for Sweeney/Schier-Power in the OF when a lefty takes the mound

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Noah, this is just such a thoughtful, quality comment. Gold star.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Bonafacio is a butcher at 2nd base. Hence part of the reason, in addition to an anemic bat when you peel back the onion, why he has bounced from team to team.

    He’s a versatile guy who can run. That’s it. He’s a 24th or 25th man type. Not a starting 2nd baseman on a team that needs to pay attention to infield defense. Especially with the erractic Castro at shortstop.

  • jschwei17

    Should get better production out of every position but LF and C this year! So much more depth in 2 years that it’s not even funny! Think back at how many guys that played for the Cubs in the last 2 years that have not seen the field for another MLB team…?

  • dAn

    I’m not a Barney fan, but I do expect his bat to rebound now that Sveum and his hitting coaches are gone. He’ll probably be back to normal, which for him, was about 270/300/360 or so. With his defense (and the Cubs’ emphasis on infield defense), I think it makes sense to let him start at 2B. Plus, Bonifacio is much more useful as a utility guy than Barney, and if Barney rebounds he could have a modicum of trade value when someone like Baez or Alcantara is ready to take his place.

    Roberts at this point is–at best–a backup plan for Donnie Murphy. Before the Cubs had Bonifacio, it made sense to carry Roberts as the 25th man. But all he offers at this point in his career is positional flexibility (without great defense) and the ability to hit lefties a little bit.

    If Olt really is healthy, he’ll likely be ready at the ASB, if not out of the gate. Baez will also likely be ready in the second half. And Bryant very well could be, too–although he’s going to have to really destroy AA to the tune of an 1050 OPS or something like that if he’s going to see Wrigley before September. We probably won’t see Alcantara before September. But, even if all we have is Olt and Baez in the second half coming up (or possibly Vitters, too), that’s going to make a few of these utility types expendable. My guess is that Barney gets dealt as part of a deadline package–or maybe for a PTBNL. They’ll probably keep Valbuena around because he’s LH and a good defender at multiple positions.

  • Addison Clark

    With respect to the commenting policy, just keep it simple. Don’t be Steve Rosenbloom.

    • DarthHater

      “Don’t be Steve Rosenbloom.”

      No there’s some advice on which everyone should be able to agree.

      • Fishin Phil

        Rosenbloom = Sultan of Snark

  • Cesar Parra

    More on Bonifacio:

    He played Winter League in the DR this year for the championship team Tigres del Licey, here are his numbers:

    Regular Season:
    73AB, .301/.346/.370, 13SB

    Postseason:
    74AB, .257/.291/.311, 2SB

    For what it’s worth he played in the most pitcher friendly ballpark in our league.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks for that, Cesar.

  • Chiburgh

    Cubs have been given another opportunity to ship Barney to Toronto. Blie Jays just DFA’d Brent Morel.

    • Chiburgh

      sorry, I meant Blue Jays

  • Diehardthefirst

    Emilio will rekindle the Bellyfire of Castro and Barney

  • Carne Harris

    I always wish I could be arsed to do a team analysis the way the FO does when assembling a team. They don’t look at individual players, they look cumulatively at the stats the team brings to the table to predict their win total for that year. My hunch is that Bonifacio starting at second increases the win total for this team because he fills in some of the deficiencies we had last year, particularly baserunning. I’m looking forward to watching him this spring.

  • Pingback: Rumor: Teams Checking in on Darwin Barney | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

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