Narrative Ninja: Darwin Barney, Brent Lillibridge
I don't understand all the love Darwin Barney and Brent Lillibridge are receiving right now.
I wrote about Darwin Barney last month and compared him to another "feh" second baseman in Chicago. As Brad and I discussed, Barney gets positive praise because of his scrappy play and his ability to hit for average. He essentially is Ryan Theriot 2.0. The Cubs have a gap (defensively) at shortstop, as that doesn't seem to be the best position for Starlin Castro (-7 UZR, gah!). In the short-term, Barney may add value to that position with his defense but in the long-term, the Cubs may be better suited finding a legitimate shortstop to become World Series contenders. David Schoenfield wrote in his article "The guide to fixing the Chicago Cubs":
Yes, Darwin Barney is scrappy and “Kunane” is one of his two middle names. But don’t love him too much.Boom.
Cubs fans like Barney, but he’s the kind of disposable middle infielder that second-division clubs give starting jobs to, not championship teams. Even if he hits .296 again -- and that is unlikely -- Barney has no power and doesn’t draw enough walks for a guy with no power. He’s OK as a stopgap, but it’s a big mistake if he’s still the starting second baseman in three years.
I know people will tell me Brent Lillibridge "has more HR's than Adam Dunn" (12), "better WAR than Dunn" (1.1...which is still below average), all of which are true. But Lillibridge's improved performance over Dunn is more of a reflection of Dunn's lack of productivity than Lillibridge being a good player. Lillibridge is a utility player for a reason: he's not spectacularly good at any one thing but rather "feh" at a couple of things.
So there you have it, my two cents regarding Barney and Lillibridge. Let's move past the Narrative Ninja with these two guys; why we celebrate mediocrity in Chicago is beyond me.