By now, baseball followers are aware of the trade sending Marlon Byrd to the Red Sox for Michael Bowden and a player to be named later.
It is not secret that Marlon Byrd was one of my favorites. His hustle, his energy, his selflessness, and his adoration for the Bleacher Bums was something that made me believe in him. For the most part, on the field, he produced quite well. While his numbers dipped after being hit in the face by a pitch in Boston, he did not let it change his style of play. He still stood close to the plate. He still hustled. And I am sure those things will continue in Boston.
The thing that made Marlon Byrd so compelling to me was his leadership. As a veteran, he understood his role in helping to develop some of his younger teammates. Last season, it was Darwin Barney who was taken under his wing and developed into a professional. I would guess that was, in part, due to Barney’s similarities to Marlon. They both hustle. They are both very smart players. And they both work extremely hard at their craft. Byrd is probably, at least partially, responsible for Darwin’s physical transformation. From my perspective, it is not a coincidence that Darwin Barney AND Marlon Byrd came into Spring Training this year after making significant body transformations. The other player that Byrd understood his responsibility to is Brett Jackson. In his own blog, Marlon looked back to 2002 and remembered Doug Glanville helping him come up in the Phillies’ organization. Marlon talked about paying it forward. He knew his time in Chicago was limited to the time it took Brett Jackson to get to the major leagues (it appears that time was a little shorter, with there being no plans to call up Jackson at this moment), and by all accounts, did everything he could to help him become a better professional baseball player.
Marlon Byrd is a pro’s pro. He works hard. He doesn’t get down on himself. Even though he slumped at the plate, he played a very good center field this season. And he should be missed. His contributions to the team far exceed the productivity he had on the field. When the Red Sox visit later this summer, I would expect that he gets a standing ovation. I would expect that the fans show him the same appreciation that he showed them in the brief time that he has been a Cub.