We all thought it the moment we heard that Jacoby Ellsbury was going to miss significant time with a shoulder injury.

Maybe the Red Sox would be interested in Marlon Byrd.

No, Byrd hasn’t done much to up his trade value this young season, but the Red Sox were rumored in the past to have interest in Byrd as a possible fourth outfielder/platoon player. And, with Ellsbury out, it’s possible that Red Sox are looking to get whatever they can. Byrd is likely to come out of his funk at some point (well, that is to say, he’s not going to hit under .100), and he remains an excellent defensive outfielder. A possible match could make some sense if the Red Sox are eager to patch a hole.

The Red Sox are, indeed, looking outside the organization for outfield help, which makes Byrd at least a superficial fit. Gordon Wittenmyer speculates that there could be discussions between the Red Sox and Cubs, but we remain largely uncertain of whether the Red Sox view Byrd as a viable solution to their temporary outfield needs (and then long-term solution as a reserve). He could supply great defense in center while Ellsbury is out, but is his defense good enough – or his bat certain enough to return – that the Red Sox would be willing to give up much of anything to carry Byrd as a fourth outfielder once Ellsbury returns?

From the Cubs’ perspective, they’ll be looking to move Byrd at some point this season – to open up center field for Brett Jackson – but probably aren’t eager to make a deal (1) until Jackson is clearly ready (and has missed just enough time in the bigs this year to ensure the Cubs get an extra year of control over him (and also possibly avoid him reaching Super Two status)); and (2) while Byrd is at the nadir of his value. Byrd is under contract for this year only, and makes a reasonable $6.5 million. The Cubs would probably be willing to move him for nothing more than a B/B- prospect, assuming they saved some cash in the deal. Byrd isn’t going to be the difference between a playoff run and a crummy team this year.

If the Cubs were willing to move Byrd now, it’s possible they could put together a trade involving recently DFA’d pitcher Michael Bowden, who hails from Chicago, and who never got much of a chance to stick in the Red Sox’s bullpen. Bowden, 25, has great Minor League numbers, and is the kind of younger pitcher whom the Cubs might find worth stashing in the bullpen this year. Given that he’d be coming from the Red Sox, Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod are also probably very familiar with his abilities (and limitations).

Given that Bowden was DFA’d, it’s also possible that he’ll ultimately be waived by the Red Sox, and the Cubs could have an opportunity to claim him, and then possibly take him on for much less than trading Byrd.

  • John

    That guy (unless that link goes to the wrong page) doesn’t have good minor league numbers at all. In fact i’d go as far as calling him trash. Might as well DFA Byrd.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      He has a WHIP of 1.170 in 103 games at Triple A.  Granted, that’s not as impressive as it would be in the PCL, but that’s still nothing to sneeze at.  If that qualifies as trash, I’m curious what you would consider to be good numbers.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yeah, that’s his big league BR page – his minor league stats are there, too, though.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    Campana is playing well in Iowa.  If Byrd is moved sooner rather than later, the Cubs could give Campana (or Sappelt) a look until Jackson is ready.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Would totally support that. In fact, I’d prefer it.

      • Noah

        Agree completely, and not just because Jackson needs more seasoning and for service time issues. If Campana has a hot streak, he’s the sort of player some GMs absolutely love and would ignore the fact that he doesn’t walk or hit for any power. There are still some GMs who absolutely love the Juan Pierre types.

      • bluekoolaidaholic

        Especially now that he is a major power hitter.

  • John

    Annnnnd nevermind. My phone didn’t go to the minor league numbers. I’m a moron.

  • Cubs Dude

    I like the optimism Brett. But, in my opinion I highly doubt Byrd has any value at all. It’s not just his #’s, but how utterly terrible he looks at the plate.

    • Noah

      The K rate is up a little from the past couple of seasons, but Byrd currently has a .083 BABIP. The odds of that BABIP continuing are somewhere between microscopically small and non-existent.

      • KyleNovak

        Agreed. The hits will start to fall for Byrd,, but I am a little concerned that his very slow start could morph into something that resembled what Carl Crawford’s season was last year. Crawford got off to a slow start, definitely started pressing by expanding the strike zone, and as a result, his strikeout rate jumped noticeably (and walk rated declined). He wanted so much to justify his big contract (and who wouldn’t?) by trying to get hits that it clearly got in his head. Even Crawford did rally a bit in the middle of the season before swooning again at the end of the year, due to some nagging injuries.

        Byrd is in the last year of his contract and knows the Cubs are going to be playing Jackson next year, so this “contract year” is definitely important for him to secure another job as a possible starter. He is going to keep getting press for his under .100 BA, his season success/failure depends on whether he tries to radically alter his approach for the worse (a la Crawford) or just stays the course. Again, easier said than done.

        Another point. . .
        I also think that analysts/statisticians/saber-heads get a particular joy in throwing out crazy slash lines at any point, because they love the numbers, and if they are wacky and totally absurd, even better.

        “Byrd is hitting .065/.147/.065 with an .083 BABIP, he won’t keep this up BUT. . . If he does he could go down as the worst player with the worst average in baseball, including high school and JV teams.”

        Or. . .

        “Matt Kemp is hitting .487/.523/1.026 with 6 HR, he won’t keep this up BUT. . . If he does he would end up with a season that makes Albert Pujols’ best years look like a typical year from Koyie Hill in comparison.”

        Which prompts the question:

        If a sabermetrician writes an article and includes, “I know it’s a small sample-size, BUT. . .”, should it have been written in the first place? :)

        • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

          “If a sabermetrician writes an article and includes, “I know it’s a small sample-size, BUT. . .”, should it have been written in the first place?”

          This!! The “but” is said so often, it seems.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        We should start to worry if Byrd’s K rates or XBH rates show significant deviations.  He’s got 7 K’s when we expect 5-7 right now.  He has 0 extra base hits when we expect 2-3 by now, but there is still a decent chance (nearly 10%) that he’d get 0 in 24 balls put into play.

        So, the sample sizes still are too small to conclude much.  For example, Albert Pujols is as far behind on extra base hits as Byrd is right now.  That is the nature of this beast!

        • Spencer

          Did you really just compare Albert Pujols to Marlon Byrd?

      • JustSwain

        So, I was reading about BABIP and what I found was that one of the factors that can affect batters BABIP are fluctuations in skill level. You look at most players BABIP in monthly splits, and it jumps and dips, goes up and down, rarely hits a valley for very long, rarely peaks for very long. You look at Byrds BABIP and it has dropped since his return from injury, in fact it has been in free fall since his first month back. I don’t think that he will sustain a .084 all season long, but I don’t think its going to be anywhere near his 2012 xBABIP unless he makes a major adjustment.

  • Cubbie Blues

    What would the Boston fans say about trading with the Cubs again? They would want blood again (since they thought they got a raw deal). The media would blow up wanting the cubs to take on 6 of his 6.5 million for the year and send the back one square of toilet paper in return.

    • hansman1982

      Well, with the way Valentine has diarhhea of the mouth lately they may not have a square to spare.

      • Joshua Edwards

        ^Nice. I guffawed out loud.

  • florida Al

    bowden used to pitch for waubonsie high in naperville/aurora..if i remember correct he hates the cubs and is/was a sox fan…

    • Chris

      nope hes a cubs fan i know him personally and would love to play here

    • Jackson

      I know his uncle… a Sox fan, but I do believe that he is personally a Cubs fan.

  • Deer

    How is $6.5M reasonable for Byrd? On the open market I’d be surprised if he gets more than half of that.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The way salaries have been moving? I totally disagree. You’re reading way too much into a crappy couple weeks.

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        I’m with Deer. I wouldn’t want Byrd at that salary. It’s not just a couple weeks, it’s last season too. I’d rather have Fukudome at $1M (or whatever it was he signed for in the offseason)

        • Cubs Dude

          Yeah Byrd at 6.5 Million is just too much… He is slow, on base skills are terrible, and looks to have lost some hitting ability. I just don’t see why anyone would want him.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I’ve probably spoken too glibly – I wouldn’t necessarily sign him for $6.5 million, but that’s the reach of the word “reasonable.” Given his defense in CF, I could easily see him getting $4 or $5 million on a one-year deal in this market. $8 million would be far too much, $6.5 million probably too much – but “reasonable.”

  • rcleven

    I’m all for moving Byrd ASAP but the Cubs don’t need relief pitching. What they need is another back end of rotation starter prospect. With what we have now I see winning 12 games out of the two we currently have.

    • Noah

      If the Red Sox had a back of the rotation starter prospect who was at or near MLB ready, that player would have been in the discussion for being in the Red Sox rotation this year.

      • rcleven

        Comment well taken. Boston may not be the best trading partner at this point in time. Can’t just dump Byrd just because a deal might be available. It’s still early right now and better trading partners will become available.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Beggars can’t be choosers.

    • Cubs Dude

      Let’s not trade with the Red Sox again for awhile. Just a feeling, but I don’t think Luccino wants to do anything to help Theo and his job of making the Cubs into a contendor.

  • Brian

    Is there any speculation on Byrds problems and the 45 lbs he has lost, along with finding his food allergies? I think that the beaning and weight loss has to be a contributing factor in his performance.

  • RY34

    nobody wants byrd. just cut him, bring sappelt up see how he does keeping spot warm for jackson.

  • RY34

    i meant sappelt or campana.

  • Jay Anderson Jr

    I think Theo hates Campana, because I think any GM would have made the move to replace Byrd. But then again, I think any other GM would have had Campana on the roster out of spring training. Can we please make this happen before yesterdays game. Is that possible.

  • hansman1982

    Actually, Boston may make all the sense in the world. While Byrd is struggling in the first week of the season, Boston is in need of a quality CF for a short period of time and Byrd’s history is that he is a quality CF. If they trade for him now, they fill the void that they have and it is a player that will be movable at the deadline (assuming that Ellsbury is healthy then) and Boston should be able to get similar value for what they gave up.

    Theo could pitch it as Byrd + Cash (half of his remaning salary if they are unable to move him by the non-waiver deadline) for whatever.

    • Jay Anderson Jr

      If Boston is in need of a quality CF, they should look elsewhere.

      • Shawon O’Meter

        But, but, but…what about Campana?!?!

        • Jay Anderson Jr

          Campana is a guy who hit well in the minors, and hasn’t been given a chance to play everyday in the Majors. If Jackson is coming up in June, why not let Campana play until then, everyday, to see what he can do. That’s all I’m asking. He is definitely more valuable then Byrd.

  • Steve

    Byrd is a nice fella and all but we know where they finish. He looks lost,almost weak.

  • Cubs Dude

    I wonder if the concussion thing from last year is still effecting Byrd?? He looks like he’s just trying to slap at the ball with an abbreviated swing, and just doesn’t look right at all.

    • JustSwain

      I’m more worried about him swinging at the first pitch so often. Looks like he wants to get his ABs over with as soon as possible.

  • Cubmig

    If, as thought by many, the Cubs are not going anywhere this season, what’s the hurry in trading Byrd for peanuts? I don’t like his ugly at bats (and Soto’s as well), but doesn’t it make sense to wait out his slump and market him when he is at least producing? I hate the Cubs being the ones bending over to almost kissing their own ass (eating $$$) and (for the most part) coming out on the short end of the stick. I say trade Byrd, but not just to clear a spot, nor for peanuts.

    • rcleven

      Have to agree totally. Trade for need and salary dump. He can’t get worse at this point in time. He will not get much in return. Continue to work at need rather just to get rid of him.

  • rpdtony

    Couldn’t the Cubs just have given up Marlon Byrd to the Red Sox for the Theo compensation?

  • RY34

    We will be waiting all year for byrd’s slump to end. put him out to pasture asap.

  • Ivy Walls

    As soon as I saw the Elsbury replay I figured that Byrd would be considered at least by a reporter. Byrd needs to be moved for a number of reasons and that is production. Hendry should have traded him after his All Star year but alas Hendry is always about hindsight and not foresight. The thing is could Epstein and Hoyer trade with an organization that still has a hard on against them? My thinking to relieve the hard pressed feelings is for the Cubs to eat $5M of the $6.5 and use that to purchase a Boston minor leaguer.

    As for Jackson, bring up Campana (as planned) play him so he develops some trade value and then trade him in six weeks when the club brings up the heralded one.

    That said I was able to watch “Moneyball” again on Starz and it goes to many themes here. Have confidence in your decisions, shake up a losing club and do it with a statement. Work hard in your approach and preparation.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      The Sox have Cody Ross, so they do not need to make a trade.  Yes, Ross is not a whiz in CF: but he’ll create a lot more runs than the possible trade candidates and thus more than make up for his mitt.

  • Cubmig

    Ivy Walls: Re: Moneyball reference.
    I hope we Cubs fans can look back at Theo&Co’s moves and discover Hollywood is putting out a “Moneyball Deux” focusing on the end of baseball’s “biblical” drought and promising future signaled……………….I can just see producers salivating at the bit……….

  • cubfanincardinalland

    I see all the stat freaks on here talking about Byrd will revert back to his mean numbers, nothing to worry about. I went to the game yesterday and talked with a long time friend who is a batting practice pitcher for the Cardinals. I mentioned how I was worried about Soto and Byrd.
    He told me that here was the advance scouting report on Byrd going into the weekend series. Byrd appears to have lost his bat speed, is reaching for the ball. Whether due to his beaning or just losing it, can’t turn on the ball or drive it. Just not seeing the ball at all. Go right after him and attack in the zone or on the inner half. (That is exactly what they did all weekend.)
    If the Cardinals have this report, so does every other team in baseball. A B minus prospect and taking on half the salary would be optimistic in a trade for him today.
    My take is it is lunacy to have a 35 year old declining skill center fielder starting for this team anyway. Basically Reed Johnson is a better alternative at this point(can still swing the bat), in combo with the white flash, until they think kid natural is ready.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      That is not what the Stat Freaks are saying.  We are saying that players go through spells like this periodically for no very good reason.  “Consistency” is a sports talk radio myth: baseball is a probabilistic game, and that is exaggerated by non-random factors such as facing the same staff 2-4 straight days, physical conditions, etc.  If everything were equal, Byrd would go through spells like this about 8% of the time: and the unequal aspect makes it more probable.

      Now, it might be that he’s really lost it.  However, I’ve seen too many veterans declared dead after a slow start (replete with the “he’s lost his bat speed, he’s just trying to get his bat on the ball, he’s not seeing it well, Elvis is dancing on my keyboard, grunt, grunt, grunt!” scouting reports) who then rebound to post the usual numbers to trust under 100 PAs for anything.

      • cubfanincardinalland

        Doc, what you are not taking into account, is that this is not a 10 game sample. He was well in decline last year. You can look at the stats and see that.
        And he knew it also, thus the radical weight loss and change in training. That is what former stud players do when they start to lose it, look for a magic formula.
        Guy has been a quality player and played the game the right way for a long time.And he is a classy person. I respect that. But it is a cruel game. The manager said the same thing last week, it is all about production.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          But his stats last year do not show a “well in decline” pattern:

          2010: 0.293/0.346/0.429

          2011: 0.276/0.324/0.395

          The decrease in BA was driven by a decrease in the proportion of balls he hit going for singles: and this led to an identical increase in slugging & OBP, and thus a two-fold decrease on OPS.  (Every point of BA is essentially doubled in OPS because it’s 1 pt. in slugging and nearly 1 pt. in OBP).  The proportion of hit balls that were extra base hits remained (essentially) the same.  His BB & K rate also remained essentially the same.  Now, maybe he tailed off the last month or two of the season: most Cubs do.  But his overall performance (if not quite the outcomes) were about the same.

          • JustSwain

            Can you do one of your analysis of his monthly splits since his return from injury? I’m curious to see how it would look.

            • SirCub

              I love how you call it “one of your analysis.” It’s like how my dad asks me to “get on my facebook” and print out his emails.

              • JustSwain

                I think Doc’s stastical analysis is much more complicated than printing an e-mail. He has a grasp of sabermetrics that I think that few of us on this site could claim to equal, and his stastical analysis skills far outstrip mine. Why is that strange to you? Did you think I worded it strangely?

                • JustSwain

                  In response to criticisms or ribbings at least, I decided to reword my question. I’ve been looking over players recovering from injury, and it seems like a fairly common trend that their BABIP tends to drop. Also, older players tend to have their BABIP drop in the year before retirement. So what I’m wondering is, statistically speaking can a reduction in BABIP be observed in players in decline? Also, how significant is the drop in Pitches/Plate Appearance? It seemed to drop to an all time low for Byrd last year, and so far again this year. Is a decline in Pitchers/Plate Appearance a stat that can be predictive of a decrease in Avg? Also what is the significance of the fact that Byrds BABIP not only decereased, it decreased in the fashion of a downward trend over the course of the last three months of last season, and going into this season? Worse and worse luck?

                  • Bric

                    I get that Doc and you enjoy statistics. But the one question that no one seems to address is please demonstrate for me where sabermetrics predicted the Cards would win the world series last year, or the Giants the year before that. Or any other meaningful projection.

                    I’m really not being sarcastic, I mean it. If there were saber stats out ther that predicted such things then I’ll change my mind about all of these numbers. But if not I’ll just stick to my idea that fantasy baseball isn’t real baseball and Moneyball was just a movie.

                    • SirCub

                      Yea, those teams were long shots, but the thing is, every team is a long shot to win the World Series in a given year, even the stacked ones. The best you can hope to do is make the playoffs consistently, because once you’re in, each team has a similar chance of rattling off  11 wins in a small sample size. Truth is that most people that understand probability were probably less surprised by those “fluke” teams winning it all.

                    • JustSwain

                      Anything can happen over the course of a baseball season, and predictive sabermetrics can be offset by the unpredictable ones such as BABIP. The Cardinals success was largely attributable to the efforts of relative unknown factors such as Jason Motte, Lance Lynn, David Freese. Using Sabermetric predictions is far more accurate than, for instance, picking names out of a hat, but it is by no means 100% Also, the projections for last year were that the Central would be won by Milwakee, Cinci would be 2nd, and the Cards third. All the Cardinals did was move up one slot, and then streaked through the post season.

                • SirCub

                  Yea, he is way smarter than us with baseball stats. Just like how I am way smarter than my dad at signing into his AOL account. That’d be the joke.

          • hansman1982

            In the first 37 games Byrd returned from injury he hit:

            .302/.347/.460 – .336 BABIP

            the next 38

            .207/.275/.296 – .223 BABIP

            The baseball gods are not smiling on Byrd. If you increase his BABIP by 60 points he had a pretty good 2011.

            Edit: Increase his 2nd half-post injury BABIP.

            • JustSwain

              Yep, and his BABIP dropped dramatically in each of those months. I’m looking for more in depth analysis that might show similar stats in other players, who then made comebacks, or correlative data that might show that this was simply a matter of luck. Thanks though.

    • JustSwain

      Thanks for the Report,cubfanincardinalland that is the kind of information that is very hard to come by! Unfortunately it confirms my fears for Byrd, that not only is he not getting hits, he’s not getting hits despite being challenged in the zone. I strongly suspect that its the beaning that caused this drop in production. Lets look at his numbers since his return from the injury. His monthly splits look like this;
      July: Avg .323
      August: Avg .250
      Sept: Avg .182
      Oct: cruel joke:)
      This year: Avg .065
      His BAbip went down each of those months as well, so saber guys might say this proves nothing. I’m still learning how to interpret advanced metrics, so I’ll concede he might have gotten a bad rap, but I do know something about psychology, and this looks a bit like an anxiety disorder similar to PTSD. At first you feel fine, like you can do everything you used to do, then you start to get nervous in certain situations, especially situations that remind you of your trauma. Eventually being in those situations, anticipating those situations causes you anxiety. Playing ML baseball is always stressful, but this is usually Eustress rather than Distress. The difference can be subtle, even to the guy who is experiencing it. Fluctuations in weight are often associated with stress disorders as well. PTSD like symptoms can happen as a result of any psychological trauma, a beaning that requires facial reconstruction is definitely a trauma. I’m not a licensed therapist, nor have I ever talked to Marlon Byrd, so this is PURE conjecture. If it is an anxiety disorder, and he is getting help for it, the rates of recovery are unusually high with a combination of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy. Notice how Byrds trends are backwards; usually an injured player struggles to get back to game ready, and then slowly improves as the year goes on…since reinjury is a very unlikely culprit to the declining stats (because of the nature of his injury) it looks like a delayed reaction to stress to me. Marlon Byrd is one of my favorite players, I love his intensity, I hope whatever it is that is giving him problems gets worked out.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    Send Byrd to the Redsox as Compensation for Theo!!! Hey Here’s another guy we thought you might need. Us Cubs Folks are so concerned about the Red Sox people not liking us and all. Here is Marlon Byrd served up on a silver platter. I would let them have him for nothing in return if they took has salary on for the remainder of the year. He’s a nice guy will fit in the clubhouse well and all that nice stuff. Can we put him on the next plane to wherever in the hell you are at this moment.

    Call to the clubhouse….. Marlon pack your shit… Your outta here… Nice and Tidey like… Thanks for the Memories and all that. Enjoy Boston and here’s $20 bucks get yourself a Chowda before rolling into the ballpark.

  • Spoda17

    Like most of you are saying, Bryd is not just slumping, he looks awful! He looks like he is swinging while standing in a barrel of cement up to his belt… I mean he loost really bad… Almost like he has never swung a bat before…

  • bob

    The same things were being said about Ramirez and Pena last year when they got off to terrible starts, and all was forgotten when they heated up. That said, Byrd looks closer to Colvin’s level of lost than either of those two. He does have the experience and work ethic, though, so I’d say give him a couple more weeks, perhaps with a few extra days off against the tougher righties until he gets it going.

    • JustSwain

      Those same things were not said by Me about Ramirez and Pena. I thought Pena looked good at the plate, liked his approach, and the fact that he maintained an adequate OBP despite a very low Avg. Byrd looks bad right now, he’s not walking, he’s not hitting, he’s not taking pitches. I think Byrd has a confidence problem. Here is what I think the future will look like if that is true; Eventually Byrd will realize he is being challenged in the zone, and start squaring up some pitches. After a two game hitting streak a pitcher will throw up and in to him early in a game. He will go 0 for for the next three games.

  • rcleven

    Wishful thinking from the SunTimes?


    If I remember right they also don’t have the cap space.

  • ty

    Paul Maholm told Carrie that he has not lost any sleep as Carrie pointed out no victory since last July 10th. Well, is that not special?

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