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.