Cubs GM Jed Hoyer, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington feel Marlon Byrd ‘can help a lot’ in Boston
|04.22.12 at 12:20 am ET|
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said that the Red Sox approached his team about the possibility of acquiring outfielder Marlon Byrd once Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury went down with injury. With the Cubs featuring some interesting outfield prospects (notably including Brett Jackson as well as Tony Campana) in their farm system who are knocking on the door to the majors, Chicago embraced the opportunity to deal Byrd to the Red Sox in exchange for reliever Michael Bowden and a player to be named later. Hoyer said that the player to be named would be a pitcher whom the Cubs will choose from a list by the end of May.
Byrd, 34, is off to a terrible start this year. In 47 plate appearances, he is hitting .070 with a .149 OBP, .070 slugging mark and .219 OPS. However, Hoyer said both that the slow start did not create the team’s willingness to deal Byrd and that, in fact, he expects the center fielder to rebound in Boston.
“Our feeling was we’ve been trying to acquire relief pitching since the end of the winter. We felt like an area we have some surplus with young players we want to play is in the outfield so that was a big part of it,” Hoyer told reporters in Chicago after the trade. “The slow start, a lot of guys have a bad 45, 50 plate appearance stretch. We wouldn’t be doing our job well if we let that play into it. This is something we talked about going back to spring training. We felt we had some guys who can be a big part of our future. Realistically, Marlon was in the last year of his deal and we felt we wanted to give some plate appearances to other guys.”
Hoyer thinks that Byrd will benefit from the change of scenery, including the fact that he’ll get a do-over with his batting average.
“I think he’s excited to have the opportunity in Boston, knowing they’ve had some injuries and some playing time. You’re on a big stage in Chicago and he’s going to be on a big stage in Boston and I think he relishes that. I think he’s excited about going to Boston. I think he’ll be successful there for sure,” Hoyer told reporters. “His slow start is really uncharacteristic for him. I think he’ll heat up here. Maybe it helps him. Obviously, he’s been in a little bit of a funk and sort of having the batting average reset and going to the American League might be a good thing for him.”
Byrd was an All-Star for the Cubs in 2010 and got off to a strong start in 2011, hitting .308/.346/.419/.765, but he suffered multiple fractures after being hit in the face by an Alfredo Aceves pitch at Fenway Park on May 21. He missed approximately six weeks, and then performed quite well in his first month back (from July 2 to Aug. 2) in the lineup, hitting .320/.370/.510/.880 in his first month of games. However, over the final two months of the year, he went into something of a tailspin (.218/.277/.305/.582) that seemingly carried over into 2012.
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington suggested that the Sox are reasonably confident that the beaning has not altered Byrd’s abilities.
“He came back pretty quickly from it and performed pretty well actually when he first came back. Tailed off a little bit at the end of the season and then has had a rough start so I don’t know, it’s hard for me to answer [whether the beaning impacted him],” said Cherington. “Physically he’s fine. He’s passed all the tests. From a scouting standpoint, we’ve watched him and there’s no obvious change in skills. Just, performance hasn’t been there. We’ll get to know him better when he gets here and we’ll get him in the lineup and try to get him going.”
Asked if Byrd — who will join the Sox in time for Sunday’s scheduled game against the Yankees — could serve as an everyday center fielder, Cherington pointed to his career track record to suggest that such a development was a possibility at a time when the Sox are without both Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford.
“[It's] up to [Bobby Valentine] to write the lineup out but [Byrd] has been [an everyday player] for a long time. If he’s performing the way he has for most of the last several years, he’s certainly capable of that,” said Cherington. “I think he knows he has to come in and perform to play. It’s a fresh start and I think he’s excited to be here and we’re happy to have him.”
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