Marlon Byrd isn’t hitting his weight. In fact, he’s not even close to it.
His .081 batting average is the result of 3 hits in 37 at-bats–and it gets worse.
Since going 1-for-4 with an RBI on Opening Day, Byrd has endured an 0-for-20 stretch, struck out out nine times, manage but two walks and was thrown out in his lone steal attempt.
In Late/Close game situations, a crucial spot for any club, but particularly the Cubs who are starved for offense, Byrd leads the team with five at-bats, of which he’s gone hitless with three strikeouts.
No better with RISP: 11 at-bats, one hit. Only Soriano (15) has had more chances to drive in runs.
Byrd’s struggles at the plate can’t be categorized as a ‘slump’. It’s something far more wicked, something beyond ‘Jacque Jones’ territory.
Regardless of what that might be, there’s no uncertainty Dale Sveum needs to pull Byrd from the everyday lineup, where he’s been in 11 of the first 12 games.
With all due respect to Byrd, his current batting is the equivalent of a second pitcher hitting in the lineup. Really not good for a team desperate to generate even the slightest of offensive fire power.
The tricky part is replacing Byrd defensively in center field.
David DeJesus, however, is a former center fielder. Reed Johnson isn’t out of the question and guys like Joe Mather, Jeff Baker and possibly Bryan LaHair could play the corner outfield spots.
Whatever the scenario might be, there are options aside from Byrd, which should remain in place for the foreseeable future.
And despite Byrd’s dismal bat, his defensive skills are worth keeping around, especially in close situations where Sveum can summon Byrd from the pine to help protect any rare late-inning leads.
But just because Byrd is coming off the bench doesn’t mean he’s destined for the scrap heap. In all fairness, he does have a track record that shows he can, and will, hit.
The consensus among Cubs fans is to trade Byrd, bring up Brett Jackson and let the kid play the string out. But if it were only that simple.
Even if the Cubs could find a taker for Byrd, they’d get little to no value in return for him given his current numbers, and Theo/Jed aren’t in the business of trading players just to trade them.
The Cubs will want some form of value coming back for Byrd, and that arguably doesn’t happen until Byrd rekindles his old hitting form, which can only happen with more playing time down the road.
Secondly, and as much as Cubs fans don’t want to hear it, Brett Jackson isn’t ready for The Show—those are Team Theo’s words, not mine.
Granted Jackson’s arrival could be hurried with the Cubs entrenched in last place in the division, but there’s really no reason to rush Brett’s development, or run Marlon Byrd out of town.
Let’s just start with the simple fix and get Marlon Byrd on the bench. It can only get better from there.