Levine: Barney Never Regained 2011, ’12 Form
By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) Only two players from the 2010 Cubs remain on the current squad after it was announced Tuesday that Darwin Barney was designated for assignment.
Barney never regained the form of his 2012 season, when he won the Gold Glove while tying an MLB record with 141 consecutive error-less games at second base.
Barney was a leader on the team during his tenure. He was a favorite friend and teammate to many along the way. Barney had his best hitting season in 2011 (.276), after which he saw diminishing results all the way through this season. Barney hit .230 in this season before he was designated for assignment.
Losing his knack to drive the ball to right field occurred after the 2012 season, and Barney was looking for extra stamina. During that offseason, he hit the weight room to add 10 pounds of muscle. That misstep and trying to pull the ball more often after 2012 season altered his career in Chicago as an everyday player.
An over achiever due to his lack of size and power, Barney fought his way through the Cubs’ minor league system. He was selected by the team in the seventh round of the 2007 amateur draft.
Barney was on the trading block early in the season. Utilityman Emilio Bonifacio was the hottest hitter in baseball the first three weeks of the year, which combined with Starlin Castro’s return to All-Star form eliminated much of the former starting second baseman’s early playing time.
More recently, young talent Arismendy Alcantara ascended to the Cubs and Bonifacio came off the disabled list, so Barney’s number came up.
“Look, I will tell you Darwin Barney is an awesome teammate,” former Cub and current Oakland A’s pitcher Jeff Samardzija said when hearing the news. “He was a leader on our team, and I know he will help a contender win.”
Barney was told of the move early in the day and didn’t have time to say goodbye to teammates before the Tuesday’s evening game against the Padres.
“He played the game hard and had a Gold Glove to go along with it,” Cubs reliever James Russell said. “He was one of the dudes in the clubhouse. He was easy to hang out with. He was fun in the locker room or outside of it. Darwin is just a winner. He won at Oregon State and in the minor leagues. He has a knack for doing good and being on winning teams.”
Russell knows that he may be the next to pack a bag and get traded.
“This was kind of a shot in the (groin),” Russell said. “What can you do? You pick yourself up and it just happens. We went through it with Samardzija and Hammel. It is just a part of baseball.”
Only six players from the Jim Hendry era remain on the current 25-man roster. It ended in August 2011 when the Ricketts family fired the general manager.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.