Despite the Gold Glove caliber defense that Darwin Barney brings to the table, it doesn’t seem likely that he will be able to maintain his job as the everyday second base of the Chicago Cubs next season.
Barney, knowing he’s not a good hitter, managed to have a solid season in 2012 and coupled with his Gold Glove award and historic defensive season, it seemed like he would be a lock in the position for years to come and there were even rumors that the Front Office was thinking about extending Barney with a long-term deal.
After what he did this past season, however, I don’t think the Cubs are still looking into that idea.
Barney battled all the season to maintain his average slightly above the Mendoza line and even when he was able to accomplish that, his lack of power and situational hitting really hurt the Cubs chances. In a team that don’t have a good offense and that lacks to score runs despite solid power numbers, it’s crucial that all the players in the lineup are, at least, able to produce consistently.
Things could get worse for Barney as there are several more offense-oriented players that could take over his role. Utility men Donnie Murphy and Luis Valbuena are able to play second base consistently and the presence of both Logan Watkins and highly-touted prospect Arismendy Alcantara at the upper levels of the minors only hurts Barney’s chances to remain as an everyday player with the Cubbies.
He’s still a respected guy and a veteran leader in the clubhouse, so if his role is taken over by somebody it doesn’t seem likely that’ll be either demoted to AAA Iowa or placed on waivers. He could still be a solid utility infielder as his defense could be a plus asset coming off the bench in closed games.
The Cubs should look at the possibility to upgrade the second base as soon as possible. With the waves of talent that are slated to arrive in the next two years, it’s going to be crucial to have players that can create offense in a consistent basis.