Byrd has a PED bust in his past and had his career season at age 35 after a disastrous 2012. Will he repeat his 2013 season for the Phillies in 2014? He had a great year playing for the Mets and Pirates in two ballparks that are not conducive to hitting home runs. In Philadelphia, the sheer friendliness of the confines will help him at least maintain some semblance of power. If you tell the Phillies they’ll get 18 homers and 75 RBI from Byrd, they’ll undoubtedly take it and run.
When analyzing Byrd and the contract, the mistake that is being made is looking at him at his worst (2012) and his best (2013) and believing that it’s either/or. In truth, if you look back at his prior five seasons from 2007 to 2011 with the Rangers and Cubs, he was consistent. There’s no reason to think he won’t give the 18 homers and 75 RBI I suggested as a minimum the Phillies would take.
Since his reinstatement from suspension, Byrd has presumably been tested multiple times for PEDs and hasn’t failed any. That could mean he’s clean. It could mean that he’s taking something new that can’t be detected. He’s worked with Victor Conte before and Conte is about as close as it comes to a genius in this area. Who knows? But the same could be said for any player.
The Phillies needed an outfield bat and didn’t want to wait for the market to shake itself out before getting one. The other available free agent outfielders have their own issues that make the signing of Byrd understandable:
- Jacoby Ellsbury – represented by Scott Boras; wants $100+ million; has a history of injuries; might not respond well to Philadelphia.
- Carlos Beltran – is a few months older than Byrd; is said to want 3-4 years; will cost double what Byrd costs; wants to DH part of the time.
- Shin-Soo Choo – represented by Boras; also wants $100+ million; definitely ill-suited for Philadelphia; has trouble hitting lefties; the Phillies are lefty-centric.
- Curtis Granderson – will probably cost double what Byrd did or more; bats lefty.
- Nelson Cruz – also a PED case; worse defensively than Byrd; would probably want at least $10 million per year.
There was a brief rumor that the Phillies were discussing Jose Bautista with the Blue Jays. I believe the Blue Jays would trade Bautista, but the Phillies farm system is mostly gutted and Domonic Brown for Bautista isn’t going to cut it.
Gauging the alternatives, is Byrd that terrible an idea?