It’s too bad Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney are as good at being utility infielders as they are. Why is that a bad thing you ask? Well because it means one of these defensive maestro’s probably won’t make the Blue Jays this season simply because the team only really has need for one utility infielder. I actually started writing this post as an argument in favour of choosing Goins over Barney for the role of utility infielder. Like many Jays fans, I’m a bigger fan of Goins because he came up with the Blue Jays and did an admirable job filling in for Devon Travis back in 2015 when he was lost for the season due to a shoulder injury. To say I’m bias towards Goins is true, but in all honesty, the more I compared these two players and reviewed both their offensive and defensive contributions, the more difficult it became to pick one over the other. They’re that equal.
Another reason why I originally hoped Toronto would go with Goins instead of Barney was because I couldn’t bear the thought of Goins not making the team. He’s in such a precarious place in his career, having already been sent down to the minors in three previous years, Goins is out of options and if the Blue Jays wish to send him back to the minor this season, they’d first have to put him on waivers and risk him getting picked up by another club. Which for a player of Goins defensive talents is highly likely to happen.
Over the years you get attached to these players, and no matter how many of your favourite players you see move on to other teams, it’s something that never gets any easier. I don’t want to get too sentimental here, but it sure would be nice if Goins could remain with the Blue Jays. That being said, he’s such a special player defensively, if he did end up going to another club, he’d likely start somewhere. Which is what a player of Goins skill level deserves.
Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked here, the purpose of this post wasn’t to focus on the possibility of Goins leaving, but to look at how lucky Toronto has been to have two gold glove caliber back-up infielders at their disposal over the past few years. Goins and Barney have become the quintessential utility player. Anything you ask of them on defense, whether it be to play 2nd base, shortstop, 3rd base, outfield, 1st base, they’ll do it and do it well. In this regard it’s almost impossible to choose between the two players because they have no reservations of playing wherever the Blue Jays need them. Incredibly, that also includes pitching, like they both did last season when each of them pitched an inning of relief in that 19 inning game on Canada Day against Cleveland. You think Jason Kipnis could do that?!
It just goes to show how little there is that separates these two players when they both can come in and pitch an inning of relief against big league hitters and not look all that out of place as they locate their pitches and hit 90 MPH on the radar gun. Goins and Barney are two of the best utility infielders who have ever played for the Blue Jays, it’s just unfortunate that they have to do so at the same time as it means one of them sadly isn’t able to be a part of the team.