For the next three years Marlon Byrd gives the Cubs stability in center field.
That’s significant considering they’ve been without it for the last five. Even then, that hinges on whether or not you’re willing to consider Corey Patterson as ‘stable’ in center field.
Defense up the middle is hugely important. Teams don’t win championships without it.
Yet, I had to go back to 1987 before I could find an everyday center fielder for the Cubs who lasted three seasons or longer on the North Side.
That, my friends, speaks volumes as to how this club was mismanaged for so long!
Here’s the short list of center fielders beginning from 1987 to the present: Dave Martinez, Jerome Walton, Karl Rhodes, Luis Gonzalez, Brian McRae, Lance Johnson, Damon Buford, Corey Patterson, Jacque Jones, Jim Edmonds, and Kosuke Fukudome.
Wow! What a list. And again, just another reason the Cubs struggled for so long.
Although Mike Cameron was my personal No.1 for the Cubs this offseason, I’m willing to give Byrd a fair chance. Marlon plays the field well and has the luxury of working again with hitting instructor Rudy Jaramillo, who Byrd thrived under in Texas.
No doubt Byrd will exceed the Cubs’ standard for center fielders, which says little about a bar set so low even a toddler could step over it.
But the expectations outside that –winning a division & world championship– are far from it, and that’s the challenge Byrd needs to be up for during the next three years. History tell us it’s tougher than it looks!