Tag: Darwin Barney

Why the Chicago Cubs Should Trade 2B Darwin Barney

While it’s true that defense wins championships, that phrase only rings true to an extent. Despite winning a Gold Glove in 2012 and being a finalist for the award in 2013, Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney‘s defense isn’t enough for the Cubs.

A third of the way through the 2014 season, Barney has almost matched his error total from last season of four. Sure, three errors is nothing to raise a fuss about. It’s three errors. But in the past two seasons, Barney has committed only seven total errors. By Barney’s standards, three is subpar. He’s currently on pace to commit more errors this season than he has in the last two seasons combined.

However, it’s not Barney’s Fool’s Gold Glove that is most discouraging for Cubs fans. It’s his bat. 

Correction: It’s his lack of a bat.

During Barney’s Rookie of the Year season in 2011, he hit a solid .276 in 143 games. Unfortunately, it has been all downhill since then. Each season has seen a decrease in his average, most significantly a .046 decline between 2012 and 2013. 

For those who don’t give any consideration to batting average, his on-base percentage has been decreasing as well. Here are Barney’s offensive stats since his 2012 Gold Glove season:

Granted, Barney’s offense has improved lately. In fact, he’s hit safely in seven of his last eight games. For the Cubs, this adds more benefit than just the obvious offensive production. It also could add some trade value. 

Barney has been linked before to trade rumors. As recently as December, reports have suggested that the Yankees may attempt to trade for Barney. 

There’s no shortage of potential second basemen in the Cubs organization who could replace Barney. Arismendy Alcantara seems to be the most obvious candidate. 

Ranked as the No. 6 prospect in the Cubs organization, Alcantara doesn’t bring a Gold Glove to the picture. At least not yet. MLB.com‘s scouting report of Alcantara grades his fielding at 50, which is about average.

However, Alcantara is currently hitting .293 with nine home runs for Triple-A Iowa. He also has 21 doubles and 10 triples. On the basepaths, the speedy 22-year-old has 18 stolen bases in 21 tries. 

Alcantara’s teammate Logan Watkins is also a solid candidate for the second base job, currently hitting .273 with the Iowa Cubs.

Because of Barney’s unimpressive offense and his declining defense, the Cubs aren’t exactly going to hit the jackpot with a trade. At best, they would likely receive one or two decent prospects from a team looking to make a playoff run. 

Luckily, the Cubs didn’t sign Barney to a long-term deal after his Gold Glove season in 2012. In fact, Barney is signed to be a Cub only through the end of 2014 with a $2.3 million salary. The fact that Barney doesn’t bring any financial baggage and will be a free agent after this season may make him exactly what a team may want for a short-term pickup.

Regardless of whether or not Barney is traded, Cubs fans don’t have much to worry about if he remains with the team. Because of their depth of infield prospects, there are multiple solutions for the team’s future at second base. Ideally, Barney would continue to make strides at the plate for the next month so as to add as much trade value as possible. After all, he is only 28 years old.

Statistics courtesy of MLB.com and MiLB.com.

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3 Positions of Need the Chicago Cubs Should Pursue This Winter

Let the shopping begin.

Twenty-five days have passed since the Cubs‘ final regular-season game, and the team has already begun to make moves. The Cubs started off by firing their manager, Dale Sveum, on October 1 merely hours after their regular-season finale against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Following a 66-96 season, the Cubs need to make some serious changes if they want to become a contender in the near future. Although they have many prospects with much potential, the team still has a long way to go.

Here we look at the positions the Cubs need to improve upon this winter.

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Chicago Cubs: Who Has Been the MVP for the Chicago Cubs This Season?

As insufferable as the 2012 season has been, one could argue that this past season has not been a total washout.

In a season where the organization was transitioning not only in front office management, but also strategy, team philosophy and playing style, the Cubs have done as well as expected.

The new front office was able to get a full view of where the organization stands in regards to the immediate and long-term futures of the club, and those players pertinent to those futures received some much needed MLB playing time. 

If the “P” in MVP stood for “person” rather than “player”, then I would have to consider one from the four personnel featured in my previous article.  But it does not, and I would not.

There have been players who have performed well throughout the year. However, lacking superstar talent and utilizing a mishmash of players throughout 2012, the results were as expected.

So, who should be considered the Cubs’ 2012 MVP?  The resurgent Alfonso Soriano?  David DeJesus? Darwin Barney?  Jeff Samardzija?  Or Ryan Dempster?

A case could be made for any and all of these players, even Ryan Dempster – and he isn’t even with the team.  In 2012 with the Cubs, Dempster went 5-5 with a 2.25 ERA.

However, he fell victim to five no-decisions and one loss before his ERA eclipsed the 2.00 mark.   He also had five straight outings from June 5 to July 14 where he did not surrender a single run—earned or unearned—lowering his ERA from 2.59 down to 1.86.

If Dempster would have remained with the Cubs through this season, or agreed to the Atlanta trade that would have netted the Cubs top pitching prospect Randall Delgado in return, he could very well have been named MVP for both his on field contributions and what he brought in trade.  But he didn’t, so he’s 0-for-2 and no dice.

One could argue that Jeff Samardzija has been the Cubs’ MVP of 2012, being the best of the Cubs’ current starting pitchers this season and a light in the murky Cubs’ pitching staff.  But he has not done enough to be considered the team’s MVP.

Alfonso Soriano is another candidate.  He would most definitely win the Cubs’ Comeback Player of the Year award, but MVP?  He is a close third.

So, who is the runner-up, and who is the MVP?

This is microscopically close.  So close, the Cubs might have two co-MVPs in 2012.

Darwin Barney has done one heck of a job this season.  While his BA and OPS are nothing spectacular, he has one error in 700 chances at second and a dWAR of 3.3.  His oWAR is 1.6, for an overall WAR of 4.7.

Barney’s performance this season has been the most consistent in every facet of the game.  Among position players who have played in 100+ games for the Cubs this season, he has the fewest strikeouts with 51. 

Joe Mather has played in 99 games this season for the Cubs and has only 44 strikeouts.  But he has played in 49 fewer games than Barney, and has 325 fewer plate appearances than the standout second baseman.

David DeJesus has performed admirably throughout the season as well.  His OPS is .757, and he is ranked eighth in the league in pitches seen per plate appearance, seeing 4.08.  He has also drawn a total of 58 walks this season as well—the most of any member of the team.

He has only two errors in 266 chances, an oWAR of 1.6 and an overall WAR of 1.4, but he has a dWAR of -0.6—which is more noteworthy than important.

You could look at the WAR related numbers and decide it’s a no-brainer and declare Darwin Barney the MVP.

Or, you could look at their OPS numbers and plate discipline and decide the vote should easily be cast for David DeJesus.

Their hits and runs totals are too close to be deciding factors.

So, who is the Cubs’ 2012 MVP?

It’s a coin toss, really.  And in this case, a Two-Face style coin is used.

Deciding which of these two is the Cubs’ MVP is a difficult task.

DeJesus wins it for his plate discipline, and being on a team that cannot seem to grasp the concept his skill is invaluable.

Barney wins it for his defensive ability, along with plate discipline and importance to the team.

So, those are my MVPs.  Who are yours?

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