Daric Barton never able to fulfill early promise 

click to enlarge Daric Barton was designated for assignment Thursday, the latest setback in a career that hasn’t lived up to expectations. - JAE C. HONG/AP FILE PHOTO
  • Jae C. Hong/AP file photo
  • Daric Barton was designated for assignment Thursday, the latest setback in a career that hasn’t lived up to expectations.

Designated for assignment. Quick, raise your hand if you really know what the hell that means.

My hand isn't raised, and I covered big-league baseball on a daily basis for the better part of a decade. I still host a radio show called "Inside The Bigs," but if a caller asks me to explain DFA, I'll plead WTF.

All you need to know is it's bad for the guy getting it. He gets lopped off his team's 40-man roster, exposed to the waiver wire, and further humiliation awaits should none of the other teams in the game deem him worthy of a pickup. That means he likely has to slink back to the minor leagues with the team that DFA'd him as his detractors derisively LOL. Or, that team can straight kick the guy to the curb, and depending on how old he is, that could mean RIP to the dream.

Welcome to the wonderful world of 28-year-old Daric Barton, who was hyped as one of the best hitters in all of minor-league ball when he came to the A's in the stunning Mark Mulder trade after the 2004 season. He made his big-league debut with a late-2007 callup at age 21, and after batting .347 with a staggering 1.067 OPS and mostly beautiful defense over 18 games, he was penciled in as manager Bob Geren's stud first baseman for the next decade.

How he outlasted Geren is a bit of a forehead slapper. Geren's way-longer-than-it-shoulda-been tenure could be explained, in part, by the fact that he and Billy Beane were wedding-party buddies. Why Beane has remained so loyal to Barton for so long is, for A's fans, at least as baffling and frustrating as Bud Selig's blue ribon panel, or anything that comes out of Oakland Mayor Jean Quan's mouth.

Barton is a rare animal. He's one of the few A's in recent memory to draw severely wicked ire from the typically protective fan base. A's fans, like Raiders fans, are intensely supportive of their guys. Yet Barton's mere presence on the 40-man roster, much less the active 25-man roster, seemed a personal affront to the collective baseball sensibilities of the East Bay. The team could be on a 10-game winning streak, but if Barton's in the lineup during any part of that streak, it's moan, moan, moan.

Thursday, though, brought news that the A's had cut the cord with Barton, who was DFA'd. That he's been DFA'd something like 42 times previously didn't seem to matter. This time, Oakland picked up another first baseman at the same time. This time, it feels like the last.

So the Daric Barton Era is over. Or is it? You never know. If the Sacramento RiverCats have some bobbleheads left over from when Barton could hit, they just might take him back.

About The Author

Mychael Urban

Mychael Urban

Bio:
Mychael Urban has been covering Bay Area sports for 25 years and has worked for MLB.com, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and KNBR (680 AM).
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