The Brandon Barnes experience can be summed up in two words: not quite.
The ever-likable outfielder is an excellent defender, but it was never quite enough to make up for his light bat. He has at least part of the skill set of a potential role player, but he’s not quite good enough to be a fourth outfielder.
Kicking back and forth between the big league club and the minors, Barnes made all of his appearances for the Rockies between April and July. Always a below-average hitter, he was even worse than he had been the previous two seasons in Colorado. He slashed a downright depressing .220/.250/.320 in 109 plate appearances, walking just three times while striking out 30 times.
The Rockies designated Barnes for assignment at the end of July, a move that coincided with the promotion of David Dahl. Even if Dahl hadn’t been kicking the proverbial door down with his torrid production in Albuquerque, Barnes was probably well on the way to forcing the team to DFA him anyway. The veteran played out the remainder of the season in Triple-A before being released in September.
It’s appropriate that Dahl effectively brought an end to the Barnes era. Each time that the tattooed outfielder appeared in the lineup the last few years, it gave an excuse to dream of the better days ahead: the days when the exciting new players from the loaded farm system would finally arrive—the days when the Rockies wouldn’t need mediocre place-holders like Brandon Barnes anymore.
If those days of playoff contention are in fact near, there are scenarios where you can envision Barnes on the Rockies. You can see him as the guy on the top step doing the “all you can eat” hand signal, or whatever that thing was, after a big hit. You can see him as the guy who takes the hero’s helmet off his head after a big home run and as the guy who pies his teammate’s face during a post-game interview. You can see him spraying champagne, wearing his ski goggles and photobombing the TV shot of whatever chaotic interview is happening.
You can see all of those things; unfortunately, none of them involve Barnes doing something on a baseball field. So for all of the things that made Barnes easy to root for, it is ultimately a good thing that he will not be part of the Rockies’ efforts to continue the climb towards being playoff contenders in the years to come.
Barnes is a free agent, and he will look to sign what will likely be a minor league deal with some team that needs outfield depth. Given the well known organizational logjam in the outfield, it’s almost impossible to imagine that team will be the Rockies.