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With most of the club’s payroll tied up in but a hand full of players in 2011, the Chicago Cubs are going to have a difficult time improving the team over the 2010 version. If they are to do so, they’ll have to get mighty creative with the roster, and the maneuvers used to create it.

For that reason, no suggestion should go unconsidered. Tyler Colvin at first base? Ok, let’s see. Andrew Cashner back to the rotation? I’m game. Trade Marlon Byrd? Hmm. Maybe.

What to do: Byrd is 33 with two more years left on his contract. A lot of the talk on this blog and elsewhere is that the Cubs ought to try to trade Byrd while his value is high. The Cubs and GM Jim Hendry long have been accused of rarely “selling high” on players when they make trades. One exception I can think of is Mark DeRosa, even though that trade was panned by many Cubs fans at the time. No doubt Byrd brings a nice approach to the game. The Cubs believe center-field prospect Brett Jackson is coming fast. You’re stuck with Alfonso Soriano in left (his contract has four more years to run). The Cubs want Tyler Colvin to play, and as much as first base has been talked about, it appears to me they want him to remain in the outfield.

If you don’t move Kosuke Fukudome, he could be a stopgap in center while the Cubs wait for Jackson (even though Fukudome is much better in right). DailyHerald.com.

It must be said that Marlon Byrd is, by all accounts, a tremendous teammate and wonderful person. Those qualities don’t always translate to on-field success, but they certainly don’t hurt. Byrd gives his all every game, and the fans love him – like it or lump it, that has value to the team when considering whether to keep him.

That all said, there are compelling reasons for trading Byrd. In addition to the emergence of Brett Jackson (who, it should be noted, played center field only part time AA Tennessee this year), Byrd’s perceived value is perhaps as high as it will get. The key word there is “perceived.” In reality, after a great first few months, Byrd was terrible in the second half of the season – he managed a measly .261/.321/.361 line. Are his slightly above-average defense and intangible clubhouse value enough to overcome that kind of production?

Perhaps the most likely reason for moving Byrd, were he to be moved, would be financial. Byrd was bargained priced this season at just $3 million, but next year his salary bumps up to $5.5 million, before reaching $6.5 million in the final year of his deal in 2012. If – and it’s a big if – Kosuke Fukudome and Tyler Colvin could reasonably hold down center and right field until Brett Jackson is ready to take over in center (and that, too, is another if), the Cubs could save $5 million that the team could put to use at first base, in the rotation, or in the bullpen.

In the end, it seems unlikely that the Cubs will consider this kind of progressive, non-reactionary move, and unlike many other non-moves, I probably won’t bitch about this one. The simple fact is that I enjoy watching Marlon Byrd play. And in the end, isn’t that what this is all about? Yes, of course, my primary joy comes from seeing the Cubs win – but next to that, I want to like the Cubs’ players. And I like Marlon Byrd.

  • jstraw

    NO!

  • Kenny

    I just want to say I think it would be a bad idea on Hendrys part to get rid of Byrd. I believe our best bet is to migrate Colvin to First base, get rid of Kosuke and Zambrano if possible and move Byrd over to right field. Now I realize center is now open but whatever happened to the thoughts of getting Carl Crawford, especially if we unloaded Kosuke and Zambrano or if were lucky Soriano. Soriano for another bad contract player? Such as the Silva Bradley deal? Ahh possibilities all which Jim Hendry will screw up one way or another. I guess we can say hello to the reemergence of Kerry Wood because he had a good part of the season with Yankees so here comes a huge overpriced contract with no trade clause im sure..even though I love Kerry get him if he’s cheap so he can retire a Cub.

    • Ace

      Crawford is going to be one of the biggest rip-off signings in recent memory. Just say no.

      • ed

        Totally agree on the Crawford thing.

        As far as Byrd is concerned, he is worth about what he is paid so keep him, trade him, it doesn’t really matter. But I do think that he could be used in a multi player bundle to make Z or Fuk more appealing.

  • CubsFanatic

    Why trade him? He did good for us last season. The Cubs can’t keep trading their good players and keep the bad. Focus on trading someone like Soriano or trade for pitching or SOMETHING!

    • Kevin G

      With or without Byrd we aren’t going to contend. We don’t have a 1B, Ace, or leadoff man. We don’t know which A-Ram will be back next year. Soriano isn’t going to a return like Byrd, because of his contact.

      Brett A

      • Kevin G

        Brett Jackson will be ready earily 2011. So that would fix the leadoff issue.

  • Serio

    Yes Please

  • Serio

    Brett Jackson thats the future…he will be ready in 2011…some of you are saying “Why trade BYRD He did good for us last season” I remember the same people saying Corey Patterson was good one season…then Felix Pie…Look Byrd was good last season…thats WHY he should look into trading him.

    • Ace

      I agree with your overall point, but careful with the Felix Pie example – I think he’s probably a bit closer to Brett Jackson than to Marlon Byrd…

  • KB

    Byrd will decline. Look at his age. Look at his 2nd-half stats.

  • mike miresso

    keep fukudome

    • Ace

      Why, exactly? The Cubs should keep him if they find no better deal for him than a pure salary dump, but if they can save some cash and get a remotely useful player, they should pull the trigger.

      • Bric

        Tough question. On the one hand, he is nowhere near worth what the Cubs are paying him to stand in the way of the two hottest Cubs right now: Byrd and Colvin. However, now that Lou is gone he might actually get the chance to play the style of baseball (leading off, bunting, stealing, walking) that made him so highly touted coming over from Japan. He’s the only high contract player (other than Dempster) that Hendry should take the “only if the deal’s right” approach. If hendry gets anyone to take on 70% of Ramirez, Z, or Sorianno (yeah, right)’s contract, then dump ‘em. But if Fuke is still on the team next spring, I think his play will pleasently surprise everyone. If not, Colvin takes over. No big deal. But please, Jim… no more big contracts for now. This team needs to rebuild one way or the other.

        • Ace

          Whoa, if someone offered to take 70% of Fuk’s salary next year (that’s like $8 million), you wouldn’t jump on that? Think of what the Cubs could add with that money. That’s, at a minimum, a dominant late-inning reliever (which I usually oppose spending big money on, but if you can get one of the few sure-fire ones, it’s worth it). I’d much rather have a Heath Bell (completely random example) on the 2011 Cubs than Fukudome. No?

          • BT

            I’d take Bell over Fuk. On the other hand, I see no reason why the Cubs should rush to dump a guy who (according to fangraphs) was their 3rd best hitter last year. If I told you the Cubs were close to singing a guy with 15-20 HR power, a .370 OBP, and who was a solid defender, and a left hander to boot, wouldn’t you be pretty happy with that? That is essentially what Fuk did last year.

          • Bric

            Woops, I meant to say that the Cubs should move him only if the CAN find somebody to pay 70% of his salary (as oposed to Silva, Ramirez, Sorianno, and Z which I be happy to get 50% back). And your views about the bullpen are right on. The problem with the Cubs last year was all the rookies in the bullpen who blew to many early games. That, along with Lou’s steady decline into retirement mode pretty much provided a losing clubhouse atmosphere by May. I was saying last spring training that the Cubs should trade for Bell. Capps might be available again, too. Either way, some contracts have got to go. Then that money needs to be spent wisely. Dunn in the line up will sell so tickets and jerseys but with a bunch of rookies in the bullpen we won’t win more than 80 games again. Now we’ll see what Ricketts’ priorities really are.

  • Raymond Robert Koenig

    I agree. He plays the game right. He’ll take a walk. He’ll bunt. He plays good defense.

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