In case you were not aware, Darwin Barney hasn’t been performing too well at the plate in the last year or so. Since drawing serious interest from the Tigers at the trade deadline about a year and a half ago, the wheels have essentially fallen off and he’s declined rapidly. I’ve received several e-mails and tweets asking what the Cubs can do to fix the situation and what their options are, so I wanted to take a minute to look at that.

Right now Barney isn’t getting much playing time, at least not on a regular basis. He’s a spot starter and defensive replacement. I wouldn’t call him a pinch hitter as the requirement for that is that you have to actually hit. He’s more of a pinch outer. Some have asked if perhaps he’d benefit from more playing time. There are two places that can happen. Either he gets starting time in the Majors or he gets it in AAA. There lies the problem.

At the Major League level, Barney can play both shortstop and second base. Starlin Castro is having a resurgent start to the 2014 season so to mess with that would be moronic. That leaves his usual second base spot. The problem there is that Emilio Bonifacio has been playing extremely well so far this season and would need to be moved to CF to open up a spot for Barney. It’s not a horrible option, given the play of our outfield so far this season, but I wrote last week that I’d rather see Luis Valbuena get that second base spot if Bonifacio is moved to CF.

That leaves the minor leagues, but that gets complicated. Coming into 2014, Barney had amassed 3 years and 53 days of Major League service time, which is why he was eligible for salary arbitration this past off-season. It also means it will make sending him down to AAA a little more difficult. While he does have three option years left, it will be tough to use them due to secondary option year rules. Because of his service time, Barney must clear revocable waivers before being optioned, and I don’t think he’d go unclaimed. Even if he were to go unclaimed, he’d still need to consent to the demotion and what incentive does he have? Sending him to AAA would be a tough one.

So what do the Cubs do? At that point, I don’t think there is much you can do. I don’t like the idea of playing him everyday as I think we’ve seen what he is, and I don’t think there are GM’s interested in him strictly for his glove. I think you have to wait it out, wait for Bonifacio to regress or Valbuena or Mike Olt to completely suck and then give Barney a chance to jump in there. I know it’s not what most Cubs fans want to hear, so I’m open to suggestions.

MVPAnthony Rizzo (.298 WPA)

  • I pulled up the game late and saw the Cubs had a great 1st inning. I stepped away to do a few things for work and turned the game on and saw the game was now tied, 3-3. I didn’t know who was pitching but immediately thought it was either Carlos Villanueva or Edwin Jackson. I was right.
  • Anthony Rizzo had four walks and a home run. In case you were wondering, that is the 85th time it’s even happened. The last time a Cub hitter did it was 2003, when Hee-Seop Choi did it. Now you know. Here is the complete list.
  • I’m beginning to lose faith in Olt. An 0-for-5 night is not what I wanted to see. The only positive thing we saw at the plate was a RBI.
  • Top 5 Bullpen Alert!!! The pen pitched 3.1 innings of scoreless ball. That will help the crew’s ERA.
  • Jackson picked up win # 2. Jeff Samardzija still has 0. Do you need further proof in the uselessness of the win stat for pitchers?

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail