Tagged: Darwin Barney

Alcantara’s Brief Call-Up a Signal of Things to Come for Cubs

The Chicago Cubs are being really cautious with their most prized prospects, but one guy that’s been lighting up the minors this season will get a brief two-game stint with the big league club over the next few days.

That’s because infielder Arismendy Alcantara will be called up to the Cubs to take Darwin Barney’s spot on the active roster. Barney will be leaving the team to be with his wife for the birth of their third child, and Alcantara will start the Cubs’ remaining two games against the Cincinnati Reds.

Alcantara has played 88 games so far this season for the Triple A Iowa Cubs, and he’s been, in a word, excellent. His batting average of .308 and his OPS of .892 are both impressive, and his 45 extra-base hits are a great sign as well. Add to that his 21 stolen bases and his ability to play both middle infield spots and center field, and you have a player that has Cubs fans legitimately excited.

Of course, Alcantara will only be up for two games (although there’s no rule that says he can’t be called up if the Cubs do end up trading Barney before the trade deadline), but there’s still reason for Cubs fans to be optimistic. The team on the field at the big league level is struggling again after the Jeff Samardzija trade last week (although to suggest that one has to do with the other is silly), but the Iowa Cubs have been a treat to watch. Guys like Javier Baez and Kris Bryant continue to rake against the pitching at that level, and even though he isn’t as highly touted as either of those players (or Addison Russell, for that matter), Alcantara is a guy that could very well be in the Cubs’ plans well into the future.

Getting to finally get a brief glimpse of him against big league pitching is definitely something to look forward to, and the hope has to be that he gives Cubs fans something to cheer for in his brief stay with the team. He is an intriguing player, and he’s the first of the team’s many big-time prospects to get a whiff of the big leagues.


Cubs’ Decision to Start Baez in Minors the Right One

Javier Baez mans shortstop in the eighth inning

Baez mans shortstop in the eighth inning

As spring training has worn on, and as shortstop Starlin Castro has continued to sit out games with a hamstring injury, more and more fans have been asking about whether or not Javier Baez could potentially make the Chicago Cubs’ opening day roster. His four home runs in Cactus League play (including one in Surprise on Tuesday night) have done little to pour water on those rumors, but Cubs GM Jed Hoyer did just that on Wednesday morning.

In a radio interview with David Kaplan and David Haugh, Hoyer said that the team will start Baez out with the triple-A Iowa Cubs this season, but did acknowledge that fans of the team have every reason to be excited:

Baez has been bouncing around the field a bit for the Cubs in spring training, with manager Rick Renteria looking to work him out at several positions. He has played some games at shortstop, but this week he has also been getting some time at second base. Hoyer added in the interview that Baez will start at shortstop for the Iowa Cubs, but that he could still see a bit of action at second base once their season starts in April.

As for the Cubs’ current situation at the position, there’s no telling if Castro will actually be ready when the season begins at the end of the month. He still hasn’t gotten into a game since pulling his hamstring, and he said that he would likely need 8-10 games in order to get fully prepared for the regular season. The Cubs only have 11 games left (12 if you count split squad action), so Castro is getting close to a point where he may not be able to get his preferred warm-up time before the grueling 162-slate begins.

Even with that in mind however, the Cubs are still making the right choice when it comes to sending Baez to the minors. He is arguably the top prospect in their farm system, but with the team not really poised to do much of anything this season, it doesn’t make sense to burn a year of arbitration eligibility just to have a starting shortstop for a week or two while Castro gets ready for the season. Starting Darwin Barney or Donnie Murphy in that spot makes a lot more sense as a short-term solution rather than starting the clock on Baez’s MLB service time, and Hoyer is right to exercise patience with one of his prized assets.

Barney Shows Some Guts Even as Cubs Falter

Darwin Barney takes an at-bat in the third inning 3-11 vs. Colorado

Darwin Barney takes an at-bat in the third inning 3-11 vs. Colorado

Mesa – The Chicago Cubs took the field with some serious pep in their step behind one of their best pitchers on Tuesday afternoon in Arizona, but they left that field with their heads hanging as they were trounced 13-0 by the Colorado Rockies.

That pitcher, Travis Wood, surrendered five runs and scattered nine hits in just 2 2/3rd innings of work, and he never really looked to be in command of his stuff all day long. Rockies hitters, notably Nolan Arenado, were all over Wood in this game, squaring up every pitch and rocking them all over Cubs Park as the Cubs watched helplessly.

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Cubs’ Re-Signing Barney Was A Smart Move

The Chicago Cubs avoided arbitration with second baseman Darwin Barney on Thursday, agreeing to a 1-year deal worth $2.3 million, the team announced.

The figure is the exact midpoint between the number the team ($1.8 million) and Barney’s agent ($2.8 million) exchanged as they prepared for their arbitration hearing, but that will no longer be necessary as Barney is officially in the fold for 2014.

The deal means that pitcher Jeff Samardzija is the only Cubs player remaining on the arbitration list, and if the two sides can’t bridge the $1.8 million gap that exists between the figures they submitted, then their case will be heard by an arbitrator.


Barney is a Gold Glove-winning defender (and a finalist in 2013 as well), but his bat has been the subject of ridicule and contempt from Cubs fans. In 2013, Barney only batted .208, with seven home runs and 41 RBI. He had an abysmally bad on-base percentage as well, only getting on base at a .266 clip.

The forecast for 2014 for Barney isn’t much better, as Baseball Prospectus is only projecting him to hit a modest .250, with an OBP of .294. His power numbers are projected to stay the same, and his Wins Above Replacement Player, which was at -1.8 last season, is projected to improve by two wins to a whopping 0.8.

Even with all of those offensive woes in mind, it makes sense that the Cubs would retain Barney’s services for another year. Yes, even putting him in the eighth spot in the order means that the Cubs essentially cede two batters to opponents every time they go through the order, but the fact of the matter is that Barney is merely a placeholder for a guy who will be coming through the system and debuting in the majors within the next year or two.

Whether it’s Javier Baez, Starlin Castro, or Arismendy Alcantara, there are plenty of options to replace Barney’s bat in the lineup in 2015 or 2016, but for the 2014 season, he’s simply the best option they have at this point. His glove will save some of the runs that his bat will cost the team, but despite the discrepancy, it’s a move that the Cubs organization was right to make.