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darwin barney cutoutWe got a notice from our electricity provider that there are going to be planned power outages in our area today – but they can’t tell us when or for how long. Neat. So I’m typing frantically this morning, and standing ready at a moment’s notice to flee the house and find some public wi-fi to keep working. Just do it already!

  • Rick Renteria tells Cubs.com that Starlin Castro is at 100 percent now. He’ll play in a minor league game today, at which point the Cubs will decide whether to start him in a Cactus League game tomorrow.
  • Patrick Mooney writes about the somewhat muddy roster picture, and he, too, mentions the possibility that Ryan Roberts could ultimately make the roster (even if Mike Olt makes the team, and in place of Donnie Murphy).
  • Possibly relatedly, Rick Renteria has become pretty cagey when asked about Darwin Barney being *the* starting second baseman. Check out an example here in a Cubs.com piece, where RR is responding to a direct question about Barney: “I think as we go into the season, we have certain guys who are going to be put in a particular position, and on the second day, you might see a different lineup. The reality is the matchups we have and that we’re looking at throughout the course of the season will determine how we use all our guys.” He goes on from there, but never really commits to anything except “flexibility.”
  • As I’ve said before, I think the hardest part in all of this is benching (or platooning in a very limited role) a well-liked-in-the-clubhouse, veteran leader, three-year starter. I’m not saying it’s not the right idea. If Mike Olt is the starter at third base, you’re going to want to see Emilio Bonifacio and Luis Valbuena getting regular at bats, and second base is going to have to be part of that picture. I’m just saying putting Barney on the bench to start the year can be tricky in ways that outsiders like us can’t really perceive. This has become something suddenly very interesting to watch.
  • The tricky wrinkle with Barney has always been this: he’s so very good with the glove (and would probably be good at shortstop, too) that, if he can bounce back just a little with the bat this year, you could see some real trade value come July. If Barney is sitting against most righties, that probably doesn’t happen (or, to the extent his numbers improve, they look like a platoon mirage). Good luck balancing all of this, RR! Of course, it remains modestly possible that Barney is dealt in the next week, quieting all of these issues.
  • Speaking of Olt, by the way, he admits to the Tribune that his shoulder issue has been worse this year than in years past. He thinks he’s over it now, but it does make you slightly more nervous than if it was just typical dead arm type stuff that he deals with every Spring.
  • Jake Arrieta writes about Opening Day, and why it’s so special.
  • Justin Ruggiano sat yesterday after waking up with a swollen ankle, though he says it’s nothing serious, and he’ll be fine in a day. The part of Carrie Muskat’s article that stuck out to me? Ruggiano mentions that he woke up after “12 hours, 10 hours” of sleep. Jerk. I got a three-hour stretch and a separate two-hour stretch last night. (Kids with ear infections are not the cat’s pajamas.)
  • It sounds like, unlike Tsuyoshi Wada, Chang-Yong Lim will not be re-signing with the Cubs after he was released this week, and is instead headed back to Korea to pitch. It’s a bummer that things didn’t work out with Lim, who came back from Tommy John surgery late last year after the Cubs signed him in the offseason before 2013. In all, the Cubs rolled about $500,000 worth of dice on Lim, so it wasn’t a huge loss.
  • Your prospect porn of the day:

  • Austin8466

    Brett,

    I think today’s “prospect porn” was less figurative. lol

  • JB88

    Citing yourself for the “prospect porn” is sort of weird. It’s sort of like saying you had a great date last night and then saying you sat at home on the couch watching *cough* movies *cough* …

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Austin got the joke. :)

  • D-Rock

    Just read on Rotoworld that the Rangers are looking at the Cubs infielders after the Profar injury. Looking at Barney, Valbuena, and Murphy. Here’s to the Rangers being desperate again and trading us their best prospects for our tradeable assets!

    • C. Steadman

      Fingers crossed! Hope the Cubs target some of their arms…Rangers have some intriguing arms at the backend of their Top 20, if those IFers could net one that would be huge.

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      Not be pessimistic, but I really hope that an upcoming chapter of Chris’s book isn’t something like Reason #110: The Rangers.

  • Ivy Walls

    YOU SAID: ” I think the hardest part in all of this is benching (or platooning in a very limited role) a well-liked-in-the-clubhouse, veteran leader, three-year starter… I’m just saying putting Barney on the bench to start the year can be tricky in ways that outsiders like us can’t really perceive.”

    Again and again if any of you competed at a level above and beyond varsity high school this is not hard to understand within a competitive team environment. The team respects only guys who contribute and make your team better at winning. That is the point. Barney does that ONLY with his glove and hits just above a good hitting pitcher. His role is to be there when the team has a lead (like a closer) defensively if another middle infielder is a liability on the field. His feelings are real in reacting to a potential demotion at an age where he should be a clear contributor.

    How hard is that to perceive—except if a fan is enamored with the personalities on a team.

    This is probably the best line in a movie to understand the difference between running a winning team and missing the point.

    [Peter Brand] “There is an epidemic failure within the game to understand what is really happening. And this leads people who run [OR ROOT OR WRITE ABOUT] Major League Baseball teams to misjudge their players and mismanage their teams…People who run ball clubs, they think in terms of buying players. Your goal shouldn’t be to buy players, your goal should be to buy wins. And in order to buy wins, you need to buy runs.”

    • Ivy Walls

      Just to keep kicking the dead horse:

      Barney last three years as a starter 555 (2013), 588 (2012) and 571 (2011) PA’s his wRC+ was 54, 71, 79 respectively, his offensive WAR is -11, he doesn’t walk, he hits a lot ground ball outs and he doesn’t get many hits either.

      Valbuena’s plate appearances are: 391 (2013), 303 (2012), with wRC+ of 95 and 71 respectively.

      Bonafacio’s PA’s are 471 (2013) and 274 (2012) with wRC+ of 71 and 79 respectively.

      The problem is none of these players unless they have that cherished lightening in the bottle career year at the age of 29 and yet a career year might bring their wRC+ just over 100, the best bet is Valbuena since he was at 95 last year.

      Sounds like a gate holder until the Cubs bring up Baez

    • TWC

      “Again and again if any of you competed at a level above and beyond varsity high school …”

      Still meaningless, still self-congratulatory, and still a dick thing to say.

      • Edwin

        You don’t understand TWC. People who have played the game at a level above and beyond varsity high school have a special knowledge about baseball that poor simpleton’s like us can never hope to achieve.

        • Head and Heart

          That’s what makes Theo Epstein such a good baseball man. His experience playing baseball at a higher level than varisty high school!

        • TWC

          Lulz. Thanks for the clarification, Edwin. I fortgetted.

      • brains

        yes but there’s a lot of truth to the argument that the blogobaseballosphere discussions have little if anything to do with how actual baseball works. it’s mostly fantasy fandom.

        focusing solely on statistics and projections from office drones loses a lot of the qualitative experience of baseball, what it means to feel motivated, what it means to be part of a team, the emotions that go with it, the day to day grind, etc.

        players are mostly tradable faceless numbers these days, which has significantly reduced interest in role players, intangible tangibles, and etc.

        • TWC

          ::makes jerk-off motion::

          Okay, kid. It’s swell that you found an opportunity to spot off on some bullshit pet peeve.

          • jh03

            Kinda weird that you made a jerk-off motion to a “kid”…..

            • C. Steadman

              hahahaha

            • ssckelley

              ohhhhhh……burn baby burn!!!!!!

              • TWC

                You have a low bar for a “burn”, Kelley.

                But funny, Jacob.

                • ssckelley

                  True but considering who just got burned it made me laugh. Usually you are the one doing the burning. :D

                • jh03

                  It was so lame I had to do it.

                • DarthHater

                  Shut up and take it, kid. :-P

          • brains

            TWC’s hat is both dismissive and curt. is he from michigan?

            • DarthHater

              Nah, he’s from the SF Bay Area. You know how opinionated those people are… :-P

              • TWC

                “Nah, he’s from the SF Bay Area.”

                From? Nope. But I do live here now.

                And my hat is fucking awesome, thankyouverymuch.

                • brains

                  it is kind of awesome. do you feature it on your world of warcraft character too?

      • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

        Also, the difference between playing division 3 college baseball and playing Major League Baseball might as well be the difference between playing in Little League and playing in the MLB. Just because you play college baseball doesn’t mean you know what these professionals are going through. Any knowledge that you or I may have gained while playing collegiate baseball can easily be learned by somehow who couldn’t hack it as a high school freshman.

    • Rebuilding

      @Ivy Walls – It seems strange to me that you used a quote and a movie that completely contradict whatever point you were trying to make. If you have played above Little League (as you proclaim to have) you would know that in baseball most could give a damn about who is going to play 2b. It’s the most individual of team games. Do you think Ryan Kalish is going up to the dish thinking “Damn, I can’t believe Barney is platooning so screw it”? No, guys that make it to the majors are already supremely motivated, they are guns for hire and they realize it’s a business. Period. Barney could be the best teammate in the world and if Baez tears it up for a month in AAA he will be replaced. Baseball is not all numbers, but the numbers tell you what you need to know about MLB

  • davidalanu

    After how bad the past few years have been, and how bad Barney was last year, I hope that the Cubs aren’t worried about how the clubhouse responds if they go in a different direction. I get what you’re saying, but I think if they can put a better product on the field, that would send a better message to the clubhouse.

    • Head and Heart

      I am a hockey broadcaster here in Canada. And I remember the first time I was working closely with a junior team. A guy’ best friend got traded and I wondered how he would react to the news. Saw him the next day. He literally could not have cared less that his friend was no longer on the team. And from what I have seen since that’s the reaction. Athletes understand the business so a guy getting moved doesn’t really bother them. As such, the GMs I have worked with care more about the kind of player they are bringing into the room. They don’t want to trade for a bad apple for lack of a better phrase. Anecdotal, different sport, vastly lower level, and I know nothing about Theo and Jed and their staff that anyone else here doesn’t know so take it with a huge grain of salt. Just thought I would share my experience.

      • Edwin

        I figure players get upset, but on the other hand, they’re well paid professionals, so I assume they get over it quickly.

        • Head and Heart

          I am sure some do and some don’t. But the next day you show up at work and you have a job to do. Most players come to the park prepare themselves to do their job the best they can. That’s all you can control as a player and the rest will sort itself out.

        • CubsFaninMS

          IMO, a team earns its right to have a solid core when they start becoming a winning team. With the last few seasons, the players should all realize that the team is a work in progress and, because of the losing seasons, there will be a higher turnover rate in an attempt to acquire assets to improve the organization. Of course, some of this falls on the front office because they have to acquire the assets.. but it’s up to the players to play.. and earn that right. Even then, trades will be made and the team will improve, albeit at a lower turnover rate. If I made $2 or $3 million a year playing the sport I love, I’d have no problems with the turn over. Heck, you can fly to that friend’s area several times during the offseason and visit if you’re that close of friends.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    We know that the Rangers like Barney so why don’t we just go ahead and do a deal? Does Theo have to fleece Daniels on every deal? I have to think at this point that they know what they are going to do with Olt. He made a couple of fine plays yesterday and looked good to me. He just missed a pitch that he put a home run swing on and got another base hit while I was watching. I think there is little doubt remaining about his vision. We need a at like that to put in the order with Rizzo. And OMG, what about Junior Lake? Is he going to be a 30 home run type guy now? I think so. If we make a push towards respectability this year Lake and Olt combined with the call up of Baez will be the difference. Of course Castro and Rizzo will be a big part of that, but they can’t carry the club on their own.

    • Edwin

      I don’t think Lake will make enough contact to hit 30 HR.

      • Ivy Walls

        Lake getting any dingers over 20 would be great, he has the potential, approach like Soriano though.

    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

      ” And OMG, what about Junior Lake?”

      Don’t worry, next week some folks will be wondering what is he doing on a baseball field.
      The week after some folks will be dreaming on him being Stanton in CF.
      The week after that some folks will be wondering what is he doing on a baseball field.
      The week after that some folks will be dreaming on him being Stanton in CF.
      and on, and on, and on, and on…

      It’s the story of Junior Lake. “If he puts it all together, ZOMFG. But, he hasn’t and there are times he looks lost.” (Said by everyone, EVER about Junior Lake)

      • ssckelley

        Watching Lake is similar to a roller coaster ride he has some nice hot streaks and then there are times you wonder how in the heck he got to the MLB level. Right now he is on that hot streak that hopefully will carry into the start of the season.

        Ivy, I like your Soriano comparisons. I doubt he will ever hit for Soriano’s power but I can definitely see Lake being as streaky.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          I would wager that the caliber of the opposing pitching is what is driving this roller-coaster. If pitchers will hang breaking balls or throw straight fastballs to Lake, then he’ll hit the ball hard. If they pitch well, then he won’t.

          • ssckelley

            As opposed to what?

    • dsgn1

      Barney has looked good this spring, seeing lots of pitches and working the count.
      Problem is, he’s small, no power and right handed. I do think he can be hidden on an american league line up playing middle infield. A trade would open up so many possiblities for the Cubs roster.

    • ssckelley

      woody you bring up a good point about the Cubs fleecing Daniels on every deal. Let’s be honest the Rangers have been very good trade partners, they even took back a damaged pitcher and replaced him with another on the Soto deal. I am sure Hoyer and Epstein have read the comments Daniels has made about the Garza deal and I can’t help but wonder if this trade possibility was not started with a simple phone call to address it.

      I made the comment earlier that the biggest asset the Rangers could give the Cubs might be the 25/40 man roster spot and I wonder if the Cubs wouldn’t be a little “willing to help” the Rangers in this situation. Not that they would simply give Barney, Bonaficio, or Murphy a way for nothing but perhaps be willing to take a “decent” offer that might swing a little towards the Rangers favor.

      • davidalanu

        I have wondered about the trading philosophy of the management team. Although there haven’t been that many trades to evaluate, it does seem as though they either want to clearly and completely win the trade or not do a deal at all. This could just be an impression based on limited data, though.

  • Hee Seop Chode

    After seconds of hard searching, I’ve grown frustrated. What’s his name on instagram?

    • Camiata2

      Hard searching? I see what you did there.

  • Pingback: Lukewarm Stove: The Rangers Are Scouting Cubs Infielders | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

  • Spoda17

    I don’t think RR or Theo make decisions based on how Barney or the players feel about a move. But, all involved are people, and if you totally treat players as if they are not a human being it will eventually be a detriment to everyone. I am not saying to bench or not bench Barney based on feelings, but I think he has earned the opportunity to keep the job until he is not productive. He does not have one at-bat this year, I think he has earned the right to lose the job. That may be a week, two weeks, a month or whatever.

    Free agents do make decisions on how the team is run, and we need to prove to potential employees that the Cubs do respect their players.

    • Head and Heart

      Personally I would think it’s more important to show potential employees that the Cubs can win ball games. And will make decisions in the best interest of winning games. The paycheck not bouncing should be respect enough.

      • Spoda17

        Just like anything else, can’t win if you don’t have talent. Chicken and egg thing. But if you think players don’t also consider the organization (not just wins) when choosing to sign with a team… I would not make that bet.

        On MLB radio, they were talking about the stupid offer the Mariners just tried to give Wolf… and Stanton said when he was a player, and was in high demand… he absolutely considered the makeup of the organization when choosing to sign with a club. Remember, there are 29 other teams out there, and if you think its just about money and wins… (yes important, and I am not say it isn’t the major decision point)… when it’s a tie, or close… they play will pick the better environment. Masterson was willing to take a pay cut because he loves Tito and the organization (guess they didn’t like him as much tho).

  • ssckelley

    Are you willing to trade Barney to get Olts bat in the lineup? If you are then be happy with whatever return the Cubs get for him. Again the biggest asset the Rangers can give the Cubs is the 25/40 man roster spot. It might get Olt on the 25 man and a guy like Kalish a spot.

    I am sure everyone else sees the Cubs little dilemma they have with Olt, Barney, Valbuena, Murphy, Bonaficio, and later Baez. If a deal does not get done it might result in Olt starting the year at AAA, and if I’m the Cubs that is what I am selling the Rangers. Otherwise if I am the Rangers I am just going to wait until the Cubs release one of these guys and then go after them.

  • DarthHater

    “She digs The Plan.”

    I hear it’s not the length of The Plan that matters, so much as its breadth and duration. :-P

    • ssckelley

      Plus the amount of time you spend coming up with the plan is very important as well.

      • DarthHater

        That’s just part of the foreplan.

        • ssckelley

          ohhhh much better name for it….how about after the plan is executed and is finished?

          • DarthHater

            Not sure about the name for it, but I think it involves a lot of cuddling:

            [img]http://davidortiz678.tripod.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/boston-red-sox—2004-world-series-celebration-photograph-c10202515.jpg[/img]

            • DarthHater

              ACK! LOL

          • DarthHater

            [img]http://i1165.photobucket.com/albums/q587/DarthHater2013/boston-red-sox—2004-world-series-celebration-photograph-c10202515_zps4c06d5ac.jpg[/img]

            • DarthHater

              Oh, man. I’ve lost my mojo. :-P

              • ssckelley

                Your wife will not be happy…………

                • DarthHater

                  She died in childbirth. Don’t you go to the movies??? ;-)

            • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

              Geez…give me grief last week and see what happens? Force Karma is a bitch.

              • DarthHater

                Indeed. I sense a disturbance in the internet photo addressing protocols…

          • DarthHater

            [img]https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2909/13428315784_8b18550dd4.jpg[/img]

            • DarthHater

              There.

  • Funn Dave

    Does three years of starting and some positive feedback about his impact on his teammates really make Barney a veteran leader?

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