With a team as bad as the 2012 Chicago Cubs, the future of any player with the organization is up in the air. Darwin Barney and Steve Clevenger are doing their best to ensure that they stick around for at least the foreseeable future.
Barney broke onto the scene last season and became a fan favorite for many on the North Side. Others figured he was more of a stopgap at second base, with a decent glove, but not much to offer at the plate.
After working hard in the offseason, and adding weight to bring more punch to the plate, we’ve seen Barney come into 2012 as a legitimate player, and not just the second coming of Ryan Theriot.
His glove is elite. He’s one of the best defensive second basemen in the league. If Starlin Castro‘s defense continues to come along like it has, the Cubs could have one of the best, if not the best, middle infields in baseball.
The conern with Barney is his bat and whether he’ll be able to provide enough offense to warrant a starting job, either for a different club or an improved Cubs team. He’s not going to hit many home runs. We’ve seen him hit a few this season, thanks to the wind. But Barney is a solid hitter. He hits to all fields and makes solid contact. His issue, like Castro, is that he doesn’t take enough walks.
Barney is a guy that I could see sticking around Wrigley for quite a bit. There isn’t talent knocking down the door at second base quite yet, and if Barney continues to improve, he’s a very solid choice at the spot, even if he’s not going to carry your fantasy team.
As much of a disaster as the Cubs have been this season, the catching situation has been even worse. The team has used five catchers, all because of injury. And at this point, only one of those five names looks like a guy that could be a legitimate starter at this point in the season: Steve Clevenger.
At every level, all Clevenger has done is hit. That’s something he’s lived up to since seeing regular big league action this season. His experience is obviously limited, especially thanks to injury, but we’ve seen Clev hit well all year long, whether he’s starting or in a pinch hit situation.
Clevenger is batting .500 on the year, with six of his 13 hits coming in as doubles. He has power, and with more time, we should see that come through eventually. He’s not too shabby defensively, either. He’s handled pitchers well and has been able to take the abuse of playing behind the plate.
As far as whether or not either of these guys are actual long term solutions for a Cubs team desperate to find some, we don’t know. Barney certainly looks like he could be a guy to hold onto for quite a bit. His glove is fantastic and he’s a steady hitter, even if he doesn’t provide the power.
We haven’t seen enough of Clevenger to quite make that assessment yet. But he has at least earned the starting job as of right now and we should get an idea of where he’s at as the season wears on. Though nothing is a lock, it’s at least nice to know that there could be some guys worth hanging onto out in the field not named Starlin Castro.