Storyline Expanded: Full Circle to the Philadelphia Phillies

While everybody locally examined their wish list of right-handed sluggers, the Philadelphia Phillies signed Marlon Byrd. How long will it take the fans to embrace him again?

Please, scroll down for this edition of Nitecap Insight: Round Trip.

TAL'S HANDY CAPS

TAL’S HANDY CAPS

Welcome, Newcomers: 

This article represents the thinking of a baseball man in my opinion. Reading people is the answer to their decisions: past, present and future.

There will be a published storyline each week.

 

Byrd (the Pirates) Scores a Fifth-Inning Run During NLDS Game Two in St. Louis on October 4. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images North America)

Byrd (the Pirates) Scores a Fifth-Inning Run During NLDS Game Two in St. Louis on October 4. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images North America)

 

NITECAP INSIGHT

 

 

 

 

Round Trip:

Byrd’s luggage bears the names of his previous destinations, will he know Philadelphia for the first time after completing his circuitous route from and back to Philly?

Three types of free agents remain within reach of a franchise looking to plug roster holes. At the front of the line, a mid-30s veteran can score a career-capping contract his new organization may eventually regret. A 29 and over player can cash in his success for an ego-boosting deal. Finally, seeking a fresh start, some hopefuls can begin their second opportunity for stardom.

Byrd (the Mets) Scores a Fourth-Inning Run in San Diego on August 18. (Denis Poroy/Getty Images North America)

Byrd (the Mets) Scores a Fourth-Inning Run in San Diego on August 18. (Denis Poroy/Getty Images North America)

Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com elaborated on the difficulty of getting younger in today’s market. He, also, had a second installment and a final part. Well–finally!–another writer offers a realistic view of Ruben Amaro Jr.’s tenure and is willing to brave the faithful’s wrath. The opinion here is also that trades for Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence were successful. Recently, Amaro’s 2013 moves appear in two of my pieces: “Storyline: Amaro’s Fingerprints on the 2013 Philadelphia Phillies” and “Expanded Storyline: Grab Bag of Tricks for the Philadelphia Phillies.”

Carlos Ruiz, Carlos Beltran, Nelson Cruz, Bronson Arroyo, Joe Nathan and others are proven commodities, but they are past their prime. Brian McCann and Matt Garza are examples of expensive long-term investments. However, the young available talent is risky: Phil Hughes will try to realize his lofty expectations in Minnesota. That stated, this trend was present last season with Ryan Ludwick, Torii Hunter, Cody Ross and BJ Upton.

Byrd (the Mets) Pictured During the Puerto Rican Celebration Game for 2013 in Queens. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)

Byrd (the Mets) Pictured During the Puerto Rican Celebration Game for 2013 in Queens. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)

Destinations Past:

After drawing Bill Giles’ gushing praise before his major league arrival, Byrd averaged.303 for his first full campaign, placing fourth for 2003 Rookie of the Year. To put that summer in perspective, Jimmy Rollins finished his third complete tour, and Chase Utley was a late-season callup. He then platooned with Placido Polanco during the following first half.

Byrd dropped to .228 for the following 162 and swapped places with the Nationals Endy Chavez in early 2005. Although neither did much in their new surroundings, Washington got the better deal by almost 50 points: .264 to .215.

Marlon Byrd by Team:

[table id=559 /]

Byrd (the Cubs) Busts for First Base on Opening Day at Home Against the Nationals on April 5, 2012. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America)

Byrd (the Cubs) Busts for First Base on Opening Day at Home Against the Nationals on April 5, 2012. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America)

 

The same down pattern appeared for the 2006 Nats when Byrd’s second full-tour numbers bottomed at .223, leading to another organization. That stated, he began his consistency that next campaign with the Rangers, batting .307, .298 (’08) and .283 (’09). Successfully finishing his arbitration years, he achieved his first three-season agreement of $15 million total with the Cubs. Everything continued to work out with productive summers of .293 and .276 before his 2012 debacle.

The right-fielder’s ineffective 162 included an offseason physical problem, a lost swing and a failed drug test. For the Red Sox, however, he hit .270 in 100 at-bats after an .070 mark in Chicago. Again, another rebound materialized in 2013 but with a career year of .291, 24 homers and 88 RBI: .285 (the Mets), .318 (the Pirates) and .364 in the playoffs.

Byrd (the Rangers) Follows Through in Oakland on September 13, 2008. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Byrd (the Rangers) Follows Through in Oakland on September 13, 2008. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

 

An Encore Performance:

Byrd will have his best season as a Phillie in 2014.

His only low point since 2007 was his suspension-ending 2012. According to the new outfielder, the failed test was before his trade to the Red Sox on April 21.

When you review his major league career, you notice that he always produces during his first campaign with a new club.

Byrd’s First-Year Stats:

[table id=560 /]

Byrd (the Rangers) Wearing the 1968 Washington Senators Uniform, a Throwback Promotion, Before the Game in Oakland on May 4, 2008. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Byrd (the Rangers) Wearing the 1968 Washington Senators Uniform, a Throwback Promotion, Before the Game in Oakland on May 4, 2008. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

 

 

As a Phillies’ defender, Byrd will make plays that have not been seen in right field for the last three summers. He will launch at least 20 souvenirs to paying customers for 2014. Meanwhile, his reunion with Rollins and Utley in Clearwater will reinvigorate them with a contagious energy.

As April ends, fans will sing the praises of the former farm product, who missed the glory years.

 

Byrd (the Nationals) Returns to the Dugout at Home Against the Orioles on May 21, 2006. (Photo by Ed Wolfstein)

Byrd (the Nationals) Returns to the Dugout at Home Against the Orioles on May 21, 2006. (Photo by Ed Wolfstein)

 

 

New Balance:

According to Jayson Stark of ESPN, the recent activity before the winter meetings has dramatically overshadowed the normal order of business. Actually, this offseason has been wildly different because of a strategic shift by many franchises. This unusual turn of events began more than a week ago, but it only escalated last week. For example, when was the last time you saw the Yankees lose a star to another team?

General managers are reacting to the competition with less haggling time and higher initial offers, and that technique should be familiar locally. The front office with its many consultants–like Pat Gillick–initiated this creative measure. Amaro utilized it with Jonathan Papelbon. Rather than losing out, other clubs are responding accordingly.

Byrd (the Phillies) Slides into Third Base During His First Stint in Philly. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Byrd (the Phillies) Slides into Third Base During His First Stint in Philly. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

When fans look at $8 million for some players, they voice disbelief at such an exorbitant amount. Available comparisons have occurred during this offseason and last. Therefore, does $16 million buy twice the outfielder?

Beltran ($15 million), Curtis Granderson ($15 million), Upton ($15 million), Nick Swisher ($14 million), Hunter ($13 million), Shane Victorino ($13 million) and Michael Bourne ($12 million) are examples of more expensive vets. On an annual basis, Cruz is asking for $15 million, and Shin-Soo Choo might have to settle $15 million for seven campaigns. Comparing almost equal dollars are the contracts of Josh Willingham ($7 million), Chris Young ($7.25 million), Ross ($8.67 million) and Ludwick ($7.5 million).

Byrd Pictured During His Days in the Minors with the Phillies and the Rangers.

Byrd Pictured During His Days in the Minors with the Phillies and the Rangers.

Finally, the defensive posture along the warning track has improved to nearly the days of Jayson Werth. That outfield had the Flyin’ Hawaiian and Raul Ibanez with the bearded warrior. Today, Ben Revere has many pluses but Victorino was better in 2010. While Byrd is a solid defender, Werth is stronger. However, Ibanez was a below-average glove, while Domonic Brown has the ability to dramatically improve.

Manager Ryne Sandberg now has a right-handed stick to balance the lineup and more. While Byrd separates Howard and Brown, the only consecutive left-side bats are Utley and the Big Piece. The hitting order will be Revere (L), Rollins (S), Utley (L), Howard (L), Byrd (R), Brown (L), Ruiz (R) and Cody Asche (L), which becomes six left-handed regulars against a right-handed pitcher. Also, Byrd’s addition lengthens the lineup, and his splits against southpaws last year (30.6 percent) were .344, 8 homers and 31 RBI.

The offense contains Revere, Howard and the right fielder: It’s as if three new hitters are in the first five slots, considering the last game of the center fielder was July 13, and the first baseman was July 6.

 

LINKS FOR 3 UP & 3 DOWN

LINKS FOR 3 UP & 3 DOWN

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez: Scouting Report

Expanded Storyline: Forecast for Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez’s 2014 with the Philadelphia Phillies

 

Domonic Brown:

Storyline: Controversy, Before and After, on the Philadelphia Phillies

Traded Prospects: 2 = Cleveland & Toronto      3 = Houston

Storyline 2: The Other Dom Browns of the Philadelphia Phillies

Storyline 3: The Trade Not Made by the Philadelphia Phillies

BJ Rosenberg & Jake Diekman:

Storyline: Trial by Fire for 2 Phillies

Storyline: Fingernails’ Riddle Solved for the Philadelphia Phillies

                                                           

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