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Now that Mike Cameron is off the board, the Chicago Cubs will turn their attention to filling the hole in center field (a hole that doesn’t exist yet) by way of some other very exciting options: Marlon Byrd, Coco Crisp, Rick Ankiel, and Scott Podsednik.

Contrary to rumors, general manager Jim Hendry still will be able to sign a free-agent center fielder even if he has yet to shed Bradley’s contract. He just has to be more creative. Marlon Byrd remains the Cubs’ top available option, and Coco Crisp has emerged as a possibility now that the White Sox have acquired Juan Pierre.

Crisp isn’t high on the Cubs’ list right now, but if they don’t get Byrd he may be the most affordable option. Talks with Byrd’s agent, Seth Levinson, have been ongoing and nothing is imminent. Chicago Breaking Sports.

Presumably, getting Byrd would mean another heavily back-loaded contract. At least it would be for a totally great player, no? No.

Byrd has put up back-to-back-to-back .800 OPS seasons, which is swell, but the first two were in limited playing time. And last year, his OBP was a crummy .329. But far, far more importantly? Those three years just happen to coincide with his time in Texas, playing in the very hitter-friendly Ballpark at Arlington.

The splits are stark: last year, he had an .873 OPS at home, and just a .740 OPS on the road. In 2008, he had an OPS of .911 at home, and .772 on the road. In 2007, he had an OPS of .916 at home, and .715 on the road.

And before you suggest that Byrd is simply a guy who hits better at home: Byrd actually hit significantly better on the road than at home before his time in Texas.

So what does that mean? It means his numbers are wholly and completely a product of hitting at Arlington, and it means that signing him to a multi-year deal is a predictable disaster waiting to happen.

And don’t even get me started on Coco Crisp – a guy who hasn’t even been average (100 OPS+) since 2005.

  • http://424tales.blogspot.com Aisle 424

    Or it could mean that Rudy Jaramillo is THAT GOOD. Ever stop to think about that? Me neither.

    • Ace

      Ha!

    • DK

      Were the Rangers too cheap to bring Jaramillo on the road with them?

      • Ace

        I hear he gets home sick.

  • http://collegeofidiots.com Ginger Russ

    If we get Coco Crisp and keep Milton Bradley, it’s like we’re kids again. Cereal and board games and hopping! YEAH!

  • al

    I think our track record with former texas rangers outfielders speaks for itself…I.E. NO MARLON BYRD!!!!!

  • kevin g

    Can someone please explain why they arent giving Fuld or Colvin a shot at center?

    • Ace

      Some think Fuld isn’t an MLB regular (he’s already 28). Colvin is not ready to hit in the bigs (he has barely hit worth a darn at AA), and may not be an average center fielder defensively. He’s better in the corner spots.

      • kevin g

        but they said the same thing about theriot and he is now an every day player and not to bad either.

        • Ace

          At a minimum, Fuld could probably put up respectable numbers – and play stellar defense – as part of a platoon in center field. I’d certainly rather the Cubs do that and spend money elsewhere than sign Marlon Byrd.

  • juniorbors

    Heard Brandon Phillips is available. Even if we need to send more prospects over because he is in our division I would rather that then poor center field choices. Resign reed and platoon him with either colvin or fuld.

    • Ace

      Phillips would be a solid addition – though I imagine some would say that they think a Baker/Fontenot platoon could be adequate (and might even out-produce Phillips). But I could be persuaded that it’s better to go with the tier 2 platoon in center field and have Phillips at 2nd than have Byrd in center and the platoon at 2nd.

      That all said, Phillips appears to suffer from the same problem as Byrd – hits great at Great American, hits shittily on the road. Phillips also makes a TON of money the next two years ($17.75 mill, plus a $1 mill buyout).

  • juniorbors

    There is absolutely no way that a Baker/Fontenot combo could outproduce Phillips. 20-30 stolen bases – no way, 20-30 home runs – possibly, 90rbis – no way, average – probably not, with the mighty fontenot hovering around .250. I know Phillips is due to make 5.5 mil next year, didnt think it was anything near 17.75 for two, thats steep.
    Anyway, just a foolish rumor started amoungst friends – Boston is in the market for a 1st baseman with Youk moving to third, they have a surplus of outfielders with the addition of Cameron (even with Bay moving to Mets), but in need of a DH possibly. DLee and Bradley for Ellsbury and Lowell. Of course, Lowell and Bradley have bad contracts but we can move Lowell to 1st (if his wrist is deemed OK) but we would save money next year and this with Lee off the payroll. You would want to lock Ellsbury up for at least 3. He would be the leadoff and defensive outfielder you desire.

    • Ace

      Phillips has nice home run and RBI numbers (playing at Great American will do that for you), but keep in mind: his career OPS is a very mediocre .742, with a terrible .312 OBP. I guarantee a Fontenot and Baker platoon could out-do that.

      I’m not pushing for that, mind you. Just sayin’.

  • elkhound

    If you can sign Byrd, you won’t have to worry much about run production out of second base. If you can’t sign him, there will be trouble. Reed Johnson and Sam Fuld. I am not impressed. Not impressed with Fontenot either, but you have to let one be. And who the hell is Baker? Geez, I miss Ryno!

    • Ace

      Baker is the guy who hit .305 and put up an .810 OPS for the Cubs last year.

      Unfortunately, it’s looking like there will be trouble in CF next year regardless – Byrd isn’t a savior.

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