Marlon Byrd: Trade or Keep?
Marlon Byrd hustles like few others in the major leagues. He plays the game the right way and he is a player that can help teams win championships. He is a good player to have around when the Cubs bring up players like Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson, so he can help them learn the ways of the major leagues and help them play the game the right way. This could be monumental in keeping the “Cubs Way” alive for many years to come. Byrd plays a decent center field and has good enough speed to track down balls in the deepest parts of the ballpark. Byrd is a decent hitter, shown by his .280 career average, and can fit into almost any lineup. He has a .324 OBP and, when healthy, scores a decent amount of runs. All of this is summed up very well by his WAR (wins above replacement player) of 1.4.
The cons are hard to see because, as a player, Byrd doesn’t do anything to make someone dislike him; but they are there. Byrd is not as good as advertised. He had a great year in Texas the year before the Cubs signed him and the Cubs have never seen that type of production. Byrd has lost a step in the outfield and is not a stolen base threat anymore (never really was). Byrd seemed a little off last year after getting hit in the face. This might be him adjusting to the new cheek extension of the helmet, but it could be a lingering effect. The biggest knock on Marlon Byrd is that he plays center field. Normally, this is no problem, but when you have a high end prospect that also plays centerfield, something has to give.
Marlon Byrd is one of my favorite Cubs and I would prefer that they don’t trade him, but if the right deal came along, then they almost have to trade him. If I had my way, the Cubs would trade Alfonso Soriano and move Marlon Byrd to left. This way Jackson can come up and play and Byrd can still be there to help him adjust. I also think Soriano could use a change of scenery and a DH slot would be awesome for him.