Kasper: Barney is a keeper for Cubs

June, 3, 2011
6/03/11
11:08
AM CT
By ESPNChicago.com
ESPNChicago.com
[+] EnlargeDarwin Barney
Chris Humphreys/US PresswireThe Cubs' Darwin Barney leads all rookies with a .303 batting average.
In a season full of disappointment for the Chicago Cubs, rookie second baseman Darwin Barney has stood out as one of the few bright spots.

Barney, 25, is batting .303 with 61 hits, both second on the Cubs behind double-play mate Starlin Castro. The NL rookie of the month in April, Barney leads all rookies in runs, hits and batting average.

Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper has seen Barney everyday during his rookie season, and he believes the Cubs have found a long-term solution at second base.

"He has as good a game plan at the plate as any guy on this team," Kasper said Friday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "And this is a team with a lot of veterans. That's not a knock on them. I just think that his maturity is way beyond his years. This is kind of the first go-around for Darwin, so he's going to have to make those adjustments. I just like the way he plays the game. He's not surprised by anything, the speed of the game has not gotten him. I just think he's going to be here for a long time."

Barney is often compared to former Cub and current St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Ryan Theriot, but Kasper believes Barney has the edge.

"Ryan Theriot was a guy who could make flashy plays, was fast and had a couple of really good seasons for the Cubs," Kasper said. "I just think the baseball acumen, the IQ for Darwin Barney is a little higher. I just have a feeling he's going to be here for a long, long time."

If Barney is to have a long career he will likely have to make the adjustment all young players must make after their first run through the league. Outfielder Tyler Colvin is experiencing the dreaded sophomore slump -- when he can even get on the field for the Cubs.

A year after leading all rookies with 20 home runs, Colvin has struggled in part-time duty -- batting .108 with two home runs and eight RBIs in 65 at-bats -- and just returned to the Cubs after a demotion to Triple-A Iowa.

"I think Tyler has a chance to be a really good major league player," Kasper said. "The problem as I see it is that he has holes in his swing. He can be impatient at times at the plate, and I think the league has figured out how to attack him. It's that classic 'they made adjustments, now he needs to make adjustments.'

"He's going to hit home runs. If you give him 600 at-bats he's probably going to hit 25-30 home runs. The thing is, can he get on base enough? Can he do some of the other things at the plate and not strike out as much as he probably would if you give him that amount of at-bats? I don't know the answer to that. He's good in the outfield. I don't see him as a superstar in waiting. I do see him as an everyday major leaguer."

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Jason Hammel
WINS ERA SO IP
8 2.98 104 108
OTHER LEADERS
BAS. Castro .284
HRA. Rizzo 29
RBIA. Rizzo 69
RA. Rizzo 80
OPSA. Rizzo .896
ERAT. Wood 4.86
SOJ. Arrieta 122