Results tagged ‘ Marlon Byrd ’
He knows Phillies fans well.
He has heard how fans are underwhelmed at the Phillies’ offseason acquisitions, which not only includes himself, but right-handers Roberto Hernandez and Brad Lincoln, catcher Wil Nieves and outfielder Bobby Abreu.
Byrd takes no offense.
“If I was a fan I think I’d rather have Robinson Cano. I think I’d rather have (Masahiro) Tanaka,” Byrd said with a smile this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. “I want those guys. Ruben (Amaro Jr.) went with the guys he thought would help this team. And until we get on the field and actually get to show it, the fan base will kind of be looking at this team like, ‘Hey, two years of trying to get back to the promised land, we need 10 Robinson Canos in this lineup and a whole staff of Tanakas. I think they’ll be happy once we get on the field and we start producing.”
Byrd hit a combined .291 with 24 home runs and 88 RBIs last season with the Mets and Pirates. Fans normally might be enthused at the thought of somebody like that hitting behind Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. But following a 50-game suspension for using a performance enhancing substance in 2012, many people wonder if Byrd can replicate those numbers at 36.
Those skeptics wonder how real those numbers are.
Once again, Byrd takes no offense.
“Everything last year until I retire will be looked at that way because I did test positive,” he said. “The guys that don’t like talking about it are the ones that were trying to cheat or trying to beat the system. I wasn’t. I was stupid. I took something. I didn’t do my due diligence. It’s as simple as that, so it’s easy for me to talk about it because I have nothing to hide.”
Byrd said he is excited to rejoin the organization, which drafted him in the 10th round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft. He has remained close to Howard and Jimmy Rollins, both of whom served as groomsmen at his wedding.
“I was so excited when they were making their run, going through the playoffs,” Byrd said. “I was coming to games. I was waving my towel like a fan and everything. I absolutely loved it.”
Byrd shared a story about how he texted Rollins during the 2008 World Series to tell him how Rays pitcher Matt Garza tipped his pitches. Coincidentally or not, Rollins went 2 for 3 with a run scored against Garza in Game 3 at Citizens Bank Park, which the Phillies won, 5-4.
“I felt like a scout,” Byrd said.
The Phillies recently spent $42 million on Carlos Ruiz and Marlon Byrd, and barring a big move from Ruben Amaro Jr. those signings could be the end of their offensive upgrades for 2014. Every position is set, unless Amaro trades somebody like Domonic Brown or Ben Revere or some starting pitching to add a bat. It seems clear the front office is entering next season the same way it entered this past season: hoping a healthier roster is enough to return them to the postseason. The Phillies thought a healthier Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley in 2013 would provide a big boost. The theory had some merit. The Phillies were 45-57 on July 29, 2012, before they traded Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence. They finished 36-24 for the fifth-best record in the National League. They thought they had momentum. They thought they saw signs of the former five-time NL East champions.
But that hope is a harder sell following a 73-89 finish in 2013, the organization’s worst since they lost 97 games in 2000. The Phillies scored the fourth-fewest runs in baseball lats season.
Not only do the Phillies need Howard and Ben Revere healthy and productive, they need bounce back seasons from Ruiz (he had his worst season since 2008) and Jimmy Rollins (he had the worst season of his career), Byrd to prove a career-year at 35 wasn’t a fluke, Brown to prove he can replicate his breakout season and Utley to prove he can stay healthy two years in a row.
It seems like a lot of things need to break perfectly for the Phillies to score more runs next year.
Thoughts on this potential lineup for 2014?
- Revere, CF
- Rollins, SS
- Utley, 2B
- Howard, 1B
- Byrd, RF
- Brown, LF
- Ruiz, C
- Cody Asche, 3B
But what type of right-handed bat are they getting?
Byrd, 36, hit .291 with 24 home runs, 88 RBIs and an .847 OPS in 147 games last season with the Mets and Pirates. It was the best year of his career, but it also followed the worst year of his career. He hit a combined .210 with one home run, nine RBIs and a .488 OPS in 47 games with the Cubs and Red Sox in 2012 before he served a 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s performance enhancing drug policy.
Byrd, whose deal includes a club/vesting option for 2016, could not find another job in baseball, so he headed to Mexico to play Winter Ball, where he resurrected his career before signing a Minor League deal with the Mets.
“We’re just looking for the best bang for our buck,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “We have a lot of holes to fill. Again, we won’t be able to fill them all from outside, but we’re trying to get the best value we possibly can.”
It remains to be seen if Byrd is a good value or not. He had a .353 batting average on balls in play this season, which is 28 points higher than his career average and 56 points higher than the big-league average in 2013. He also struck out a career-high 144 times.
Byrd’s deal raised some eyebrows at the GM Meetings in Orlando, Fla., because of the money and the fact the Phillies moved so aggressively. But Mets general manager Sandy Alderson he wasn’t surprised by the deal.
“Not really,” he said. “Given what we’ve seen so far, I wasn’t surprised. Had you asked me the question three or four months ago, I might have been surprised. But not in light of what’s happened since the end of the season. There haven’t been that many signings, but this one is consistent with the others.”