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Tag:Darwin Barney
Posted on: April 29, 2011 11:55 pm
 

Quade: Castro's not moving to second

Starlin Castro
By C. Trent Rosecrans

Starlin Castro has certainly had his defensive struggles early in his career -- he had three errors on Monday and seven on the season, along with 27 in 123 games last season -- but don't expect him to switch positions anytime soon.

Even with his defensive struggles, Cubs manager Mike Quade said he wouldn't be moving Castro to second and second baseman Darwin Barney to shortstop as long as he's the manager.

"First of all, Starlin is going to be a real good shortstop, and if I didn't believe that it might be worth a conversation," Quade told the Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan. "As good as Barney is at second, I'm not sure how good a shortstop he would be on an everyday basis. And Barney would probably disagree with me on that.

"To me, both kids are benefitting from what's going on, where they're playing and everything else."

Quade was in the Athletics system when Miguel Tejada came up and some thought he should move to third.

"Sometimes those decisions [to switch positions] are made too quickly," Quade said. "I've seen too much of it to jump the gun on anything."

Castro certainly has the tools to be a good shortstop, but it's difficult to learn in the big leagues. The good thing is he has a bat that belongs in the big leagues, with he and Darwin Barney making up an impressive middle of the order, if not middle of the infield.

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Posted on: April 24, 2011 12:18 am
 

3 up, 3 down: The new 'Daily Double' in Wrigley

By Matt Snyder

3UP

Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney, Cubs. One of my first memories as a baseball fan is the 1984 season -- in which I watched games on WGN and the Cubs had a 1-2 punch atop the order of Bob Dernier and Ryne Sandberg. They, together, were nicknamed the "Daily Double." In the decade ahead, it's entirely possible the 21-year-old Castro and 25-year-old Barney can form one of the most formidable 1-2 punches in baseball. They were on full display Saturday in the Cubs' come-from-behind 10-8 victory. Castro went 4-5 (even though one hit was the product of Jerry Sands losing a fly ball in left) with two runs and three RBI while Barney was 3-5 with two runs and three RBI. On the season, the two are completely locked in. Castro is hitting .393 with a .947 OPS. Barney is hitting .323 with a .772 OPS. Each has driven home 10 runs, which ties them for second on the team behind Alfonso Soriano. And I have to report the hits aren't cheap -- both players hit the ball hard nearly every at-bat. While the pitching staff struggles, the offense is producing well beyond expectations -- and it's mostly due to the duo atop the order.

Brad Penny, Tigers. Look, the White Sox are struggling, specifically on offense. Regardless of that, it can't be denied they have lots of really talented hitters. And Penny took a no-hitter into the sixth. He ended up going seven innings for the Tigers, allowing only that one hit -- a questionable one at that -- two walks and a hit-by-pitch in a 9-0 win.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox. He's kidding, right? Two straight stellar outings? What is this, the World Baseball Classic? I might have to quit snarkily referring to him as "Dice-BB." Matsuzaka was masterful Saturday night, working eight shutout innings, striking out nine and only giving up a single hit. He did walk three, but that's not awful for eight innings. He retired 20 of the last 22 batters he faced. Don't look now, but the Red Sox are 9-11 after a 2-10 start. If Dice-K keeps throwing like this, they're going to be in pretty great shape.

3DOWN

Ryan Franklin, Cardinals. The disaster of a season continues for the former star closer. He was booed more loudly than Brandon Phillips by the St. Louis fans and gave up the go-ahead two-RBI single to Miguel Cairo. He wasn't exactly put in a great situation by Tony La Russa with the bases loaded -- seriously, if you remove a guy from closing duties, shouldn't he get some low-pressure outings to build confidence? -- but still coughed up the big blow of the game. Again.

Fausto Carmona, Indians. He was carved up by a Twins offense that has been rather punchless in the early going. Sure, they did have Justin Morneau, but still no Joe Mauer or Delmon Young. And Carmona allowed seven hits and six earned runs in five innings. Worse yet was his four walks and one strikeout illustrate the lack of stuff he had. If the Indians are to prove this start is not fluky, Carmona has to pitch better than he did Saturday. Fortunately for the Tribe, it's only one game.

Jason Vargas and Josh Lueke, Mariners. The A's had been held scoreless for 18 straight innings heading into Saturday night's game with Seattle. Yet by the end of the sixth inning Saturday, they had scored nine times on Vargas and Lueke. Vargas needed 100 pitches to get through five innings, coughing up six hits, three walks and six earned runs. Lueke must have felt bad for Vargas, because he went out and gave up four hits, a walk and three runs in just one frame. Kevin Kouzmanoff, Cliff Pennington and Coco Crisp -- good guys and all, but hardly murderer's row -- did most of the damage for the A's.

BONUS UP and DOWN: Brandon Lyon, Astros. Lyon entered the game in the ninth inning with the task of holding onto a one-run Astros lead. He didn't. A Prince Fielder RBI double tied the game and Lyon had blown a save. He was left in the game, however, into extra innings and even took an at-bat -- one in which he doubled himself. He then closed the door in the 10th and earned the back-door victory. Not a bad night, but blowing saves isn't exactly good. Definitely interesting.

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Posted on: April 15, 2011 4:52 pm
 

Castro, Barney solidify Cubs future in many ways

By Matt Snyder

Despite the fact that the Cubs have three second basemen on the roster, 25-year-old Darwin Barney has gotten the majority of the plate appearances thus far. He's made them count, too. The rookie is currently hitting .345 with a .394 on-base percentage. In 29 at-bats, he's only struck out once.

If the Cubs are excited about the prospects of Barney being the long-term answer at second, they're downright giddy about the other member of the middle infield.

Starlin Castro opened the season as the youngest player in the majors (21). He's started the season even better than expected, as he leads the Cubs in average, hits, runs, triples and stolen bases. Even most of the outs he makes are hit really hard.

Each have displayed good range defensively and they seem to work really well together on double plays -- an errant feed by Barney earlier this week notwithstanding.

More recently, Cubs' skipper Mike Quade has taken to using Castro leadoff and Barney second in the batting order. He likes what he sees.

‘‘I would love that,’’ he told the Sun-Times on the prospects of the two going 1-2 in the order long-term. ‘‘I like the two kids at the top. They’re having fun. They’re playing well. If they happen to set the table, it’s pretty good behind them.’’

The mix the Cubs currently have doesn't exactly have many leadoff options, in terms of high-OBP guys who take walks and steal lots of bases. Castro has only walked twice in 56 plate appearances and seems to fight off any pitch, no matter where it is, during many at-bats. But if he continues to scorch the ball at the pace he is, he's a fine option atop the order.

Team that with Barney -- both are currently around .400 on-base percentage -- and the table is getting set quite frequently for the middle of the order.

It's something that could be said for years to come, as the two continue to develop and get more comfortable at the major-league level. Not only could the duo comprise the middle of the defense and the top of the order for years to come, but they should help curb general manager Jim Hendry's penchant to overpay when filling holes.

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Posted on: March 24, 2011 8:45 pm
Edited on: March 24, 2011 9:53 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/24: Slugging Stanton

By Matt Snyder

3 UP

Mike Stanton, Marlins. Florida's big bopper hadn't yet appeared in a spring game this season due to a quad injury. He made up for lost time Thursday in a stunning performance of his slugging prowess. He went 3-4 with two runs scored. Oh yeah, he also hit 3-run home runs in back-to-back at-bats, ending the day with seven RBI. His power is immense. Stanton hit 22 home runs last year in 359 at-bats and he was only 20. He was killing the ball in Triple-A before his call, as he had 21 bombs in just 192 at-bats. There's 40-homer potential in that bat for years to come.

Brad Emaus, Mets. The Mets' bats went nuts, scoring 16 runs on 23 hits, but the day was most significant for Emaus, as he zeroes in on the second base job vacated by Luis Castillo's dismissal. He went 4-4 with a double, home run, three runs and an RBI.

Darwin Barney, Cubs. The 25 year old is doing all he can to make Mike Quade forget about leaving Barney on the bench. He's already made the opening day roster, but is slated as a backup utility infielder with Jeff Baker all set to start at second base. Barney went 2-4 with a triple and two RBI Thursday. He also seems comfortable defensively with shortstop Starlin Castro. It would appear this is the double-play combo of the future in Wrigley, but how far in the future remains to be seen.

3 DOWN

Clay Buchholz, Red Sox. Of the 11 runs Buchholz allowed, only six were earned, but everything was troubling about the outing. He gave up 11 hits, including a whopping four home runs, in four innings. He threw too many balls, falling behind to many hitters. The silver lining here is that the wind was blowing out to center.

Jaime Garcia, Cardinals. Garcia also coughed up double digits worth of runs (10), though only four were earned, as a Skip Schumaker error opened the door for some extra runs. Still, Garcia was knocked around the yard for 14 hits in four innings, including two longballs. He even balked. The spring ERA of 7.94 doesn't look promising for a club looking for guys to step up in the absence of Adam Wainwright.

Scott Kazmir, Angels. He didn't want Buchholz and Garcia to be the only guys in double figures, so Kazmir joined the party with 10 runs, eight hits and three walks. He also had some unearned runs, but only two, so the eight earned were the highest of the trio. Kazmir did last five innings, but coughing up 10 runs to these "Brewers" -- without Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks or Corey Hart in the lineup -- was pretty terrible. His spring ERA is up to 7.79.

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