Marlon Byrd

So John Lannan lost his arbitration case to the Nationals and wil be paid $5M for next season (as opposed to $5.7M he was asking). Now that the money is settled, the Nats are trying to move Lannan for a position player, preferably a center fielder, so that they can sign Edwin Jackson instead. I'm not quite sure why they want to make that swap, but that seems to be the goal for them. If the Cubs cared to add another mediocre pitcher with 2 years of club control while moving Marlon Byrd and the one year left on his contract, while saving about $1.5M, it appears a match could be made.

I certainly don't see the Cubs doing it, not much difference between Paul Maholm and Lannan and it seems that the pitching depth problem has been more than solved. And if you're a fan of FIP, Lannan's numbers are worse than what he's actually put up. But on some level it could make some sense, especially if the Cubs are afraid they won't have a taker in 2 months for Byrd. And they do have Reed Johnson, Tony Campana, Brett Jackson, David DeJesus and possibly Yoenis Cespedes that can step up in center field if Byrd is moved.

Speaking of arbitration, Matt Garza's case is heard tomorrow. Once that's settled, I wouldn't be surprised for the rumor mongering to start up again, once teams are certain of his cost.

I can't find the original "reports" this tweet is referencing, but some trade talks involving Matt Garza and Marlon Byrd with Jacoby Ellsbury coming over to the Cubs (and I presume other pieces would be involved). The other teams mentioned involved with Garza include the Blue Jays with names like Deck McGuire, Kyle Drabek, Anthony Gose and Jake Marisnick being thrown out there and the Tigers with names like Jacob Turner and Andy Oliver mentioned. The Yankees as well, although no names have been mentioned although you'd presume Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances would be at the forefront of those discussions.

In his chat the other day, Bruce Levine seemed to indicate Marlon Byrd is as good as gone suggesting it's just a matter of time before the Cubs sign Coco Crisp or trade for a center fielder from the Blue Jays. The Nationals presumambly have some interest. I'd say upgrading from Byrd to Crisp would be a goofball move, but let's see if it actually happens.

In a recent Paul Sullivan Tribune article, Cubs new GM Jed Hoyer was asked what are the greatest needs short term to fix the roster. Hoyer said, "It's no secret we need to get some depth in the rotation. Depth in pitching hurt the team last year." To complete the quote: "We have to find a way to improve the defense, and we probably need to find a little more athleticism on the bases." Improving the defense, of course, will help the pitching (which might be as simple as including more pfp/pitcher fielding practice for Matt Garza).

We all recall the 2011 season started with significant pitching injuries to the starting staff. After one week the Cubs lost their number 4 and 5 starters.

Where is this leading? Baseball Prospectus' Corey Dawkins just ranked the NL Central using their metric for team/player injuries called T.A.W.L (Total Adjusted WARP Lost). More after the jump...

UPDATE:

Phillies (47-41) @ Cubs (40-50)

Phillies lineup v. Ted Lilly (3-8, 4.08; 1-4, 6.43 all-time v. Phillies)
Rollins 6, Victorino 8, Werth 9, Howard 3, Francisco 7, Ransom 5, Ruiz 2, Valdez 4, Blanton 1

Cubs lineup v. Joe Blanton (3-5, 6.41; 0-0, 2.75 all-time v. Cubs)
Theriot 4, Colvin 9, Lee 3, Ramirez 5, Byrd 8, Soriano 7, Castro 6, Soto 2, Lilly 1

 


— According to Bruce Levine, Carlos Zambrano had a 25-pitch throwing session in Mesa, following the completion of his anger-management counseling. Zambrano and the Cubs are supposed to decide next week where Zambrano will be headed for his rehab stint.

— Paul Sullivan wrote that Jim Hendry and Ted Lilly got together before last night's game to discuss Lilly's future. Lilly, who will start this afternoon's game against the Phillies' Joe Blanton, was awful in his last two starts before the break, against the Reds and Dodgers—5 homers, 18 hits and 14 ER allowed in just 10 1/3 innings.

Update:

Lineups for Cubs @ Diamondbacks...

Cubs vs. Ian Kennedy
Fukudome 9, Theriot 4, Byrd 8, Colvin 7, Nady 3, Ramirez 5, Castro 6, Soto 2, Gorzelanny 1

D-backs vs. Tom Gorzelanny
Young 8, Johnson 4, Upton 9, Montero 2, Reynolds 5, LaRoche 3, Drew 6, Gillespie 7, Kennedy 1


The dramatic high point of my Independence Day was seeing a little kid take a dump in our community pool.

Speaking of the Cubs...

Sunday's 14-3 loss marked not just the Cubs' second defeat to the Reds by 11 or more runs in the course of their four-game series, it was the Cubs' third such shellacking in their past nine home games. (You may have forgotten this doozy from a couple weeks back.)

Not sure what other point to make about this except personally, I'm pretty numb to the whole business. The 14-3's no longer bother me any more than the 3-1's or 2-0's.

Acceptance is the last of the Seven Stages of Grief, right?

Though it sounds like Jim Hendry truly couldn't care less, it's the first day of the Ari Kaplan Era at Wrigley Field. As for the game on the field, mlb.com reports that Randy Wells is looking at today's start against the A's as hitting the reset button on his thus far rocky season.

The irony, of course, is that Wells's employers might not be able to overlook the past quite as easily: since the beginning of May, the righty is 0-5, 6.47. His first-inning troubles have been especially ugly. In 13 Wells starts this year, opponents are hitting .357 against him in the opening inning and Wells's first-inning ERA is a Grabow-esque 11.25. (Stats from Baseball-Reference.com.)

The Cubs squandered another superb start, this one by Ryan Dempster, and lost 3-2 to the Astros in 10 innings Sunday afternoon. To make matters worse, the bullpen culprits on this day were the Cubs' two relief studs so far this young season, Carlos Marmol, who surrendered the tying run in the 9th, and Sean Marshall, who took the loss after allowing a double by Jason Michaels and a sacrifice fly by Pedro Feliz in the 10th. To make matters worser, the the now 5-7 Cubs wound up dropping two of the three games to Houston, thus ending the season's first homestand at 3-3. To make matters even worser, the Astros really, truly suck.

In the aftermath of the loss, Lou Piniella announced that Marlon Byrd, who had three hits and both Cub RBI Sunday, would henceforth be leading off against lefthanders with Jeff Baker moving up to the second spot and Ryan Theriot sliding down to eighth. (Byrd has actually hit leadoff or sixth more often than in any other spot in the lineup throughout his career.)

Young lefty Jon Niese is supposed to start for the Mets when the Cubs begin a four-game visit to Citi Field on Monday night, so Lou's new lineup will get its first go right away. Randy Wells is scheduled to start for the Cubs.

Ryan Theriot had three hits, and Marlon Byrd, Mike Fontenot, and Jeff Baker mashed home runs, leading the Cubs to an 8-1 victory over Dusty Baker's Cincinnati Reds at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park under mostly cloudy skies in warm Mesa, AZ.


 

Five Cubs pitchers combined to throw a three-hitter, Jeff Baker smashed a solo home run, and Xavier Nady doubled twice and knocked-in two runs, leading the Cubs to a 4-1 victory over the Texas Rangers in Cactus League action before a capacity crowd of 13,157 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny & warm Mesa this afternoon.


 

Pablo Sandoval cranked a grand slam HR into the visitor's (upper) bullpen beyond the RF fence to cap a five-run third, and Jonathan Sanchez threw three shutout innings, as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Chicago Cubs 5-1 in Cactus League action under partly cloudy skies at cool & breezy Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon.


Joe Inglett clubbed a two-run homer with two outs in the top of the 9th, as the Milwaukee Brewers overcame an early 3-0 deficit and defeated the Cubs 5-3 in Cactus League action at cold and rainy Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park this afternoon in Mesa.


The start of the game was delayed almost an hour as a noon-time downpour flooded HoHoKam Park. But the rain did stop, and the dark clouds gradually broke apart, even allowing the sun to shine through by mid-game.


Tyler Colvin went 3-3 with two doubles and a solo HR, Derrek Lee and Marlon Byrd singled and homered, Sam Fuld blasted a two-run home run, Brad Snyder ripped a 450+ foot solo HR, Kosuke Fukudome doubled and singled, Starlin Castro tripled, and five Cubs pitchers combined to throw a three-hitter, as the Cubs drubbed the Oakland A's 9-3 in front of 7,496 fans at the 2010 Cubs Cactus League Opener at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny & breezy Mesa this afternoon.


box score


UPDATE #2: Rob Neyer linked up to us and didn't cut my article to shreds. Neat.

UPDATE: Wittenmyer tweets that it's $3M for 2010, then $5.5 in 2011 and $6.5M in 2012...not terribly unreasonable and similar to DeRosa's deal from the Cubs (2.75, 4.75, 5.5M). Now only if Byrd could play as well as DeRosa did his two years with the Cubs.


The Cubs signed outfielder Marlon Byrd to a three year, $15M deal today. As one would expect with a Jim Hendry contract, it's backloaded to give the Cubs more flexibility this season. Specific terms have yet to be released.

Byrd will be penciled in to play center field and if or when he proves he can't handle that on a regular basis, he'll be a perfectly adequate 4th outfielder and the Cubs will continue their center field quest. $5M a year is actually a decent price for Byrd, but depending on the structure of the deal, the final year will probably be impossible to unload when the Cubs realize they're paying a back-up outfielder $6-$8M or whatever it ends up to be.

I gave my thoughts on Byrd earlier, but the cliff notes version is: decent offensive production for center fielder,  terrifying home/road splits over the last 3 years including a major drop in power, walks way too little and at best an average center fielder.

Feel the excitement.

Assuming no more than some bullpen and bench roles to be added, I expect the Opening Day lineup will be:

Theriot, Fukudome, Lee, Ramirez, Byrd, Soriano, Soto, Baker or Fontenot

I also expect Lou to start bitching about needing a left handed bat in the lineup by March 1st. He may flip the 7 and 8 spots and if Soto has a good spring and Byrd doesn't, they could flip as well. Here's hoping Soriano and Soto get their groove back.

Happy New Years Cubs fans!!!

(Give credit to QuietMan for the brilliant headline)

Who do you turn to?

BRUCE LEVINE

It's been really slow in the Cub universe of news. The baseball winter meetings were a horror show as far as this Cub fan could tell.

I'm incredibly news starved when you consider that I took running notes on BL's "Talking Baseball" show on ESPN-1000 radio. This week, his 2 hour baseball gab session with sidekick Jonathan Hood covered three main Cub topics: CF, 2B and the bullpen.

So here's an IV dose of baseball, Bruce Levine "Talking Baseball" style. What follows are my notes and occasional commentary from the Saturday post-Christmas program. After the jump...

Nothing official yet, but it was just a matter of time that once the Cubs moved Bradley, they'd sign their center fielder and with Mike Cameron off the market, that meant Marlon Byrd.

Looking for confirmation on a deal, but Byrd does appear to be the next
domino to fall once the Cubs finalize the Bradley deal. The Rangers
will get a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds in next
year's amateur draft for Byrd. That will give them two first round
picks (one for not signing Matt Purke and their own) and two sandwich
picks (for Byrd and Ivan Rodriguez).

You can find my thoughts on Byrd from a previous post, but to sum up, frightening home/road splits, disappointing walk rate, probably better suited in a 4th OF role. I'd like to see the contract first though before I go too far off the deep end.

UPDATE: Levine has a post up and says Matt Capps may be the first priority. The Nationals are offering up to $4M on a one year deal and the closer job, the Cubs may have to go to a multi-year deal to get him as a primary set-up man. He also say Byrd is asking for a two year deal, although no amount is mentioned. Scott Podsednik is taking a drink from the delusions of grandeur fountain and is seeking 3/$12M.

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