The gang at Clubhouse Conversation talk Marlon Byrd recently after the Phillies signed him
A lot of people were underwhelmed when they heard that the Phillies went out and signed Marlon Byrd recently. And who could have predicted a few years ago that the Phillies would want to do this now? Read on though to see the things that Marlon Byrd has been doing to reinvent himself and keep his major league career going through the years.
Byrd originally came up in the Phillies system and there was a lot of high hopes for him, he was what they called a 'potential superstar'. In September of 2002, the Phillies were a much different team that played on artificial turf at Veterans Stadium. Byrd came up through the Phillies system and debuted on September 22, 2002 and stayed with the team until he was traded in 2005 to the Washington Nationals in which the Phillies got Endy Chavez.
The Nationals kept Marlon Byrd only about a calendar year, they got him in trade in 2005 and he played 74 games for them to finish out that season, then the Nationals gave Byrd a 1 year deal in which they only needed him for 78 games of the 2006 season, the Nationals demoted him to AAA for the team on July 16, 2006.
At the end of the 2006 season, Marlon Byrd was granted free agency. You might think that there wasn't that much interest in him, as he was demoted to AAA by the Nationals and never brought back up to the team again in the season previous.
Byrd would start to reinvent himself the first time with the Texas Rangers, who signed him. It very much like he reinvented himself last year when the Mets traded him to the Pirates and he picked up a few key hits for them.
Despite being picked up by the Rangers for the 2007 season, Marlon failed to make the team out of Spring Training. He went back down to the minors and kept the hope up that he would make it back to the majors. Byrd's chance came when the Rangers wanted to shake up their outfield and Byrd won a starting job after being called up to play for players with injuries in May of 2007, Byrd went on to hit .400 in June of 2008 and gave the Rangers a reason to keep him up on the big league club. In 2008 Byrd played 122 games for the Rangers, producing 10 HR and 53 RBI. In 2009, this was Byrd's final year with Texas before playing for a new contract, he made the most of it batting 20 HR and 89 RBI.
Byrd played his heart out for the Rangers in 2009, and though they didn't want to keep him, on December 11, 2009, Byrd signed with the Chicago Cubs for 3 years and $15M dollars. His first year with the Cubs and Byrd just didn't have the numbers that he produced in 2009 with the Rangers. Byrd finished up the '10 season playing 152 games with 12 HR and 66 RBI, about half of what the numbers were the previous year.
The Cubbies have been losing for so long now, maybe Byrd blended in with the surroundings of Wrigley Field. Byrd had also been keeping the same friend as many others in the steroid era did. The name of the person is Victor Conte. He's the same person that is associated with Barry Bonds, and Marion Jones, and the alleged prescribing of performance enhancing drugs. The name of Conte's lab was called BALCO, and it was raided by the FBI for being illegal and Conte was sentenced to 4 months in Federal detention and the records of this BALCO enterprize touched off the greatest scandal in recent baseball history. Scores of players were either associated with or taking illegal performance enhancing drugs. Byrd would surface as one of them, but not until 2012.
Byrd was hit by a pitch near his left eye in a game against the Boston Red Sox in Boston in May of 2011. Byrd had to stay overnight in the hospital for observation. The injury forced Byrd to wear a protective helmet the rest of the season with the Cubs, but his stay in Boston may have been prophetic because the Cubbies would trade Byrd to the Red Sox at the start of his last year in Chicago.
Byrd's contract with the Cubbies ended in April of 2012, the Cubs sent him to the Boston Red Sox and ended up having to pay most of his salary for 2012 as well. Marlon Byrd wouldn't last the season in 2012 with the Red Sox. In June, Byrd would be designated for assignment again, and a couple days later, on June 12th, the Red Sox let him go. Maybe they knew something was going to happen to him, and on June 25th it was all revealed. Major League Baseball suspended Byrd for 50 games for the testing positive of using a banned substance. It would appear that Byrd's career may have been over with this, but as we'll see, Byrd is sort of a cat with 9 lives and he's only on his 4th or 5th life so far.
Marlon had lost 40 pounds coming into the 2012 season, he attributed this to practicing martial arts, the suspension from baseball in June of 2012 would suggest something else though.
Byrd didn't sit idle after being suspended in the MLB, he had to keep playing baseball, and went down to Mexico to play for a team in hopes that it would be keeping him in great shape to play for a team in the MLB for 2013. The winter of 2012 was a long one for Byrd, he didn't sit still but no team called for him. The call came in February of 2013 though, the NY Mets would take a chance with Byrd and give him an invitation to Spring Training and a $700K contract, with an incentive for another $100K. A far cry from the couple million dollars per year Byrd was playing for other the past few years, but he was still in baseball.
Marlon Byrd's stay with hapless Mets lasted until August, when the Mets gave Marlon Byrd another chance to shine and he reinvented himself again. Byrd was dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates and seemingly help steer the Pirates to victory several times when they needed it most. Byrd was getting clutch hits and those brief moments of clutch play must have caught the eye and imagination of Ruben Amaro, as the Phillies opened their big checkbook and stroked Byrd a 2 year $16M dollar deal that is more than he's made in baseball in the last several years that Byrd has made. To earn a 3rd year of this contract, Byrd has to have 600 PA in 2015 or 550 PA in 2015 and 1,100 PA combined in 2014 and 2015. So the final year of this contract is based upon Byrd staying healthy and playing year round for the Phils for the most part of the next two seasons. It could be a $24M dollar payday for Byrd.
You have got to hand it to Marlon Byrd regardless of what kind of player he is perceived to be, he does have a never say die attitude that just keeps propelling him like an energizer bunny. He just keeps on going and going.
Some of Marlon Byrd's career stats:
|162 Game Avg.||162||624||566||78||158||33||4||14||69||.280|
|PHI (4 yrs)||256||982||889||136||241||43||6||13||79||.271|
|TEX (3 yrs)||377||1515||1364||196||402||88||14||40||212||.295|
|CHC (3 yrs)||284||1159||1069||136||296||61||4||21||103||.277|
|WSN (2 yrs)||152||472||413||48||101||23||3||7||44||.245|
|NYM (1 yr)||117||464||425||61||121||26||5||21||71||.285|
|PIT (1 yr)||30||115||107||14||34||9||0||3||17||.318|
|BOS (1 yr)||34||106||100||9||27||2||0||1||7||.270|
|NL (9 yrs)||839||3192||2903||395||793||162||18||65||314||.273|
|AL (4 yrs)||411||1621||1464||205||429||90||14||41||219||.293|