After he struggled to produce at the plate all spring, while unable to play acceptable defense at second base, Blake DeWitt has officially lost his role as the starter.
He was never starting full-time to begin with, as Jeff Baker was the plan when lefties were on the mound. Now though, DeWitt has played at such a lackluster level that it forced manager Quade's hand in the removal process.
The 25-year-old wound up hitting .186 in 48 at-bats. Paired with his lackluster Major League career thus far, an he has found himself relegated to the bench role of backing up third and second base.
DeWitt was a first-round pick for LA, yet in close to 1,000 Major League at-bats has shown virtually none of that upside.
Darwin Barney looks to have gained the majority of starts at second base, predominantly because of his strong spring training numbers. Barney is also 25-years-old and has spent most of his minor league career as a shortstop.
Reputably known as a quality defender, Barney has been less-than-impressive with his entire offensive game outside of his contact ability.
The right-handed infielder doesn't get on base well; he also doesn't really have the ability to get consistent extra-base hits and is a complete non-factor on the bases.
In two seasons at AAA, Barney owns a paltry .324 on-base percentage and a .685 OPS. The PCL, the team's AAA league, happens to be a very offensively conducive place, where players like Ronny Cedeno and Micah Hoffpauir hit similar to Joey Votto.
The drop-off from that league should be pretty noticeable and a drop-off of any size from Barney's AAA numbers would be really ugly.
His defense at second base should be a marked improvement over Baker, especially from DeWitt. If he's going to be batting eighth, you can tolerate his lack of production with his defensive additions, for a time.
Basically, Barney projects to be a LOT like former Cubs Andres Blanco and Cesar Izturis: A defensive specialist with lacking offensive production.
At least while Darwin is young and being paid the league minimum, he has some real value.
Yet once again, the Cubs have found another temporary stop-gap in the task of finally fixing the second base situation. Jeff Baker will rack up the numbers when he's facing lefties, but Barney will have quite the task on his hands.
It's the right move to take DeWitt's starting job from him, but the team should hardly feel like they've solved the crisis at second base for any length of time past this season.
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