Results tagged ‘ Darwin Barney ’
Though the season hasn’t been as bright as many hoped, Cubs fans do have a few things to hang their hats on from the 2012 season. Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood both look like reliable arms for the future, Anthony Rizzo is playing as well as anybody could have asked, and some young players are getting valuable experience at the big league level.
But one of the quieter stories from this season has been the exceptional defensive play of second baseman Darwin Barney. The infielder has committed just one error in 2012 and should get consideration for a Gold Glove. Below is how he stacks up with some of the other elite second basemen in the NL.
The Cubs got the season’s second crosstown series off to a lopsided start, hammering 15 hits and tallying 12 runs, in a 12-3 victory. Yesterday we broke down the pitching matchups for the Cubs’ series with the South Side Sox. Today we examine the infielders.
Geovany Soto (.173/.257/.337, 4 HR, 21% CS) vs. A.J. Pierzynski (.286/.329/.512, 12 HR, 29% CS)
Geovany Soto is off the DL and looks to have retained his regular catching duties, despite a .173 batting average. Backup catcher Steve Clevenger (.284/.303/.392, 8 doubles, 76 PA), who played first base yesterday, looked good in Soto’s absence. Soto, a former NL All-Star and Rookie of the Year, will need to bolster his stats a bit to keep his everyday job.
A.J. Pierzynski continues to up his game, even at 35 years old. His .286 average is second-highest among AL catchers, and he leads that group in slugging percentage. He should get serious All-Star consideration.
Bryan LaHair (.299/.380/.572, 13 HR, 28 RBI) vs. Paul Konerko (.359/.434/.600, 13 HR, 38 RBI)
Despite not being in the lineup against lefties, Bryan LaHair’s numbers are some of the best among National League first basemen. So far this season, he has been one of the better feel-good stories in baseball. With the Cubs facing three righties this series, expect to see the 29-year-old slugger’s name penciled into the lineup all three games—even if it’s in the outfield, where he started the first game of the series. That could be a signal the team is readying for first base uber-prospect Anthony Rizzo.
But as good as LaHair has been, Paul Konerko has turned himself into a legitimate MVP candidate—an impressive feat for a 36-year-old many believed was past his prime. His .359 batting average is more than 40 points above his career high.
Darwin Barney (.272/.319/.392, 3 HR, 22 RBI) vs. Gordon Beckham (.236/.286/.372, 8 HR, 27 RBI)
Darwin Barney has been a big contributor for the Cubs all season long. While Manager Dale Sveum has platooned much of the starting lineup, Barney has been one of the few steady regulars, regardless of the matchup. His .272 average and .319 OBP are third-best among Cubs regulars, and he has come through in the clutch on several occasions.
Former first-round draft pick Gordon Beckham continues to struggle at the plate after a promising rookie season in ’08. The Sox were hoping Beckham could emerge as a top-of-the-order guy when the season started, but his .286 on-base percentage has kept him at the bottom of the high-powered lineup. However, he did hit the go-ahead home run in the first game at Wrigley earlier this year.
Starlin Castro (.303/.317/.448, 6 HR, 38 RBI, 16 SB) vs. Alexei Ramirez (.230/.255/.282, 1 HR, 29 RBI, 9 SB)
Starlin Castro is putting together another solid campaign and will likely represent the Cubs in July’s All-Star Game. While he’s walked just six times in 285 plate appearances, he’s still hovering around a .300 batting average. And, despite a few mental gaffes, his defense is improving. His UZR ranks him as one of the NL’s elite defensive shortstops. He’s also running more this season. His 16 stolen bases are already closing in on his career-high total (22) from last year.
Alexei Ramirez has been ice cold for the Sox all season, which may be a bigger surprise than Konerko’s torrid start. Last year, the 30-year-old Ramirez finished with a 4.9 WAR (wins above replacement), good for 17th in the AL. This year, he sits a -0.6, third-worst in the league.
Luis Valbuena (.294/.333/.647, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 12 AB) vs. Orlando Hudson (.176/.265/.297, 2 HR, 10 RBI)
The hot corner features a pair of newcomers to their respective teams. Luis Valbuena was signed by the Cubs a week before the season began and just started earning regular playing time after Ian Stewart went on the DL with wrist problems. Valbuena has produced offensively in the past, hitting .250 with 10 homers in 103 games for the Indians in 2009. In just five games this year, he’s already hit two home runs and driven in seven.
The Sox signed 34-year-old Orlando Hudson in May to take over for the slumping Brent Morel. The four-time Gold Glove winner and career second baseman has been moderately successful with the transition to third, committing three errors in 23 games, but he continues to struggle mightily at the dish.
Tomorrow, we focus on designated hitters and outfielders.
Matt Garza strikes again, following the Cubs’ dramatic 8-6 win over the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field Wednesday. The Cubs trailed 6-5 in the 8th inning, but some excellent base running from Tony Campana and Starlin Castro helped tie the game at six. Darwin Barney hit a two-out, two-run, walk-off home run to send the Cubs faithful home happy and seal the series sweep.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
Last Friday, Manager Dale Sveum set his lineup against the Dodgers the same way he plans on setting it Thursday against the Washington Nationals on Opening Day at Wrigley Field.
1. David DeJesus – RF
2. Darwin Barney – 2B
3. Starlin Castro – SS
4. Bryan LaHair – 1B
5. Alfonso Soriano – LF
6. Ian Stewart – 3B
7. Marlon Byrd – CF
8. Geovany Soto – C
9. Ryan Dempster – P
Throughout the spring, there was speculation about the top of the order, mainly over where Castro would bat. Sveum even toyed with Soriano in the leadoff spot, but after a powerful preseason (.316, six homers, five doubles), Soriano landed in the middle of the order. Barney was rewarded for his .392 Cactus League average with the second slot, and, despite a slow first half of spring, LaHair turned it around enough to secure the cleanup spot.
Spring Training numbers can usually be taken with a grain of salt. It’s a small sample size, pitchers may be restricted as to what they can throw and players often are facing opponents they have never seen before—and might never see again. But the way the Cubs’ offense is mashing 22 games into the spring, one would hope it can continue once the wins and losses start to count.
Through Thursday, the Cubs led all major league squads in extra-base hits and total bases and were second in home runs. They are slugging .470 as a team, good for fifth in the majors, and are seventh in the league with an .805 OPS.
Many have written off left fielder Alfonso Soriano after an average 2011 campaign, but he appears to have come to Mesa ready to play. In 31 at-bats, the 36-year-old has 11 hits, five homers and 11 RBI. He is one of 11 Cubs position players who has recorded at least 20 at-bats with an average of over .300.
Other pleasant surprises have been outfielder Joe Mather and second baseman Darwin Barney. Hoping to make the squad as the team’s fourth outfielder, Mather is hitting .421 in 38 at-bats and slugging .929 with three homers and 12 RBI. In 25 at-bats, Barney has 11 hits—five for doubles—and an on-base percentage of .462.
While it’s easy to chalk up these gaudy numbers to facing Spring Training pitching, this should give fans a glimmer of hope heading into April.
MESA, Ariz.–The Cubs are gearing up for their first live game action of the season this afternoon at HoHoKam Park. After morning workouts, the club will play an intrasquad game–blue team versus white–essentially pitting the major league squad against the minor leaguers. The game starts at 1 p.m. and is open to the public.
Here are today’s intrasquad lineups:
1. Soriano – LF
2. Stewart – 3B
3. Castro – SS
4. LaHair – 1B
5. Byrd – CF
6. DeJesus – RF
7. Lalli – C
8. Barney – 2B
9. DeWitt – DH
T. Wood – P
1. Jackson – CF
2. Sczcur – RF
3. Baker – 2B
4. Rizzo – 1B
5. Johnson – L
6. Vitters – 3B
7. Lake – SS
8. Brenly – C
9. Campana – DH
Wells – P
MESA, Ariz.–Despite finishing 71-91 last year, the pervasive feeling in Cubs camp this spring is optimism. The Cubs feel they improved their organization from top to bottom this offseason, and the energy at Fitch Park is palpable. Vine Line sat down with several of the Cubs this week to talk about how the team feels coming into Spring Training.
The Cubs claimed talented minor league infielder Adrian Cardenas off waivers from the Oakland Athletics on Monday and designated infielder Blake DeWitt for assignment.
The 24-year-old Cardenas hit .314 with 28 doubles, four triples, five home runs, 70 runs scored, 51 RBI and a .374 on-base percentage in 127 games with Triple-A Sacramento last season. The versatile infielder, who plays primarily second base, saw time at second, shortstop, third base and left field. He was originally selected by the Phillies in the supplemental round of the 2006 draft.
DeWitt, a former first-round pick of the Dodgers, was acquired in the July 2010 deal that sent Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot to L.A. In his first full season with the Cubs, he batted .265 with 11 doubles, five home runs and 26 RBIs in 121 games.
Those of you watching last night’s game saw the keystone combination of Darwin Barney and Blake DeWitt following exactly the advice in this brand-new Cubs Clinic: Get the sure out. It also helps to have a terrific defender like Barney robbing hits on the left side of the diamond. Get tips on turning the double play in this extra look inside our September edition of Vine Line. Don’t miss it: Subscribe to Vine Line today.