Marlon Byrd took to his personal blog yesterday to discuss the nature of aging in baseball, and the future of the Chicago Cubs’ outfield.
Byrd, who is under contract for one more year with the Cubs, knows that top prospect Brett Jackson is on the way, and knows that Jackson is probably going to take his job next year. Impressively, Byrd is just fine with that. In fact, he wants to help.
In Spring Training 2002, I had lunch with Doug Glanville right after one of our practices. People who don’t know, Doug played in Chicago, but he was the center fielder in Philly before I was there. He took me to lunch. I didn’t know what he wanted to talk about. We sat down, and the first thing he said was, “It’s inevitable.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “It’s inevitable. You’re going to come and take my job and I will go somewhere else. My job right now is to make sure, as much as possible, that you’re ready to come to the big leagues.” …
That word “inevitable” — it’s going to happen. [Brett Jackson is] a great talent out there, five tools, very explosive. But at the same time, you can’t come up here and dominate at the big leagues. You have to have that baseball I.Q., and I think it’s important for veterans like me to pass the torch and make sure whoever comes in behind me is 100 percent ready….
That’s the way it works. When Brett’s ready, I’ll move on. That’s just the nature of the game and I accept that and I understand that. I want him when he comes up to go through all the good times and know everything negative that I’ve gone through in baseball — being outrighted, being designated — I don’t want him to have to go through that. I want him to come here ready.
Byrd is one of the best teammates I can remember the Cubs having, so none of this is particularly surprising. Byrd, who knows there’s a chance he might not even last with the Cubs long enough to mentor Jackson, is exactly the kind of player you want a young man learning from.
If the Cubs get a good offer for Byrd this Winter, I still hope they take it. But, if they don’t, you won’t hear me complaining.