The underperforming, veteran second baseman was finally too great a drag on the club’s roster. So the team cut him in the middle of the season in favor of a prospect with a live bat.
Nope, not the Yankees and Brian Roberts.
The Cubs designated Darwin Barney for assignment Tuesday. Barney, 28, was in his fourth season as the club’s mainstay at the keystone, but he had begun losing playing time to prospect Arismendy Alcantara.
Barney has long been known for displaying elite defense and weak bat. The defense – and lack of a viable alternative – kept him afloat. Tuesday he sunk.
That outcome could be a preview of what awaits Roberts in the Bronx.
Roberts, who leads all second baseman with 10 errors, entered Tuesday batting .242 with a .312 on-base percentage and .369 slugging percentage. His 0.3 wins above replacement, as calculated by Fangraphs.com, makes him of exactly equal value to the now-designated Barney.
The Yankees have a hot second base prospect with a live bat in the minors. Rob Refsnyder has created serious buzz this season, batting .322 with a .389 OBP and a .525 slugging percentage between Double- and Triple-A. Adding to his value, Refsnyder can also play rightfield.
So why does he remain in the minors?
One theory is that Refsnyder is in a slump and the Yankees don’t want to promote a struggling player. Better to let him get hot and then call him up. Refsnyder is hitting .222 (16-for-72) with a .291 OBP in July and is batting .214 (9-for-42) with a .233 OBP in his last 10 games. He does, however, have three home runs and two doubles this month and has a hit in eight of his last 10 games.
The “Right” Man?
Yankees rightfielders have been largely unimpressive this season, posting a .644 on-base plus slugging percentage that ranks 27th in the majors.
Kelly Johnson started Tuesday’s game in right and Joe Girardi said Johnson could see more time there.
Here’s another option: Taylor Dugas.
Dugas is batting .296 with a .393 on-base percentage at Double- and Triple-A. He’s hit at every level, like Refsnyder, but unlike his Triple-A teammate, Dugas is hot right now, batting .300 (9-for-30) with a .344 OBP in his last 10 games.
Dugas’ eye at the plate is his real selling point. In 251 minor league games, he’s walked 146 times and struck out 115 times. Along with Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner, Dugas could help form an outfield triumvirate of pesky hitters who see a ton of pitches and get on base at an above-average rate. Dugas mainly is playing centerfield but has significant experience in all three outfield spots.
Lefthanded specialist Matt Thornton was called on during Monday night’s game with the score tied and two outs and he allowed back-to-back hits to lefthanded hitters.
Southpaws are now batting .277 with a .340 OBP against Thornton this season.
If Thornton continues to struggle, lefthander Tyler Webb could be a name to watch.
Webb has worked solely as a reliever in two minor league seasons and has advanced to Triple-A this season. He has a 3.69 ERA in 52 career games, but has struck out 119 and walked only 24 in 85.1 innings pitched. Webb has pitched in just one game for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but if he does well at Triple-A, he could be an option in the Bronx sometime in August.