Now that the Cubs' first choice, Mike Cameron, has been signed by the Boston Red Sox, it appears that former Ranger Marlon Byrd is the target of choice for GM Jim Hendry in his ongoing search for a center fielder.
The caveat, of course, is that Hendry has to move Milton Bradley before he can add payroll, so signing Byrd is no sure thing. By the time some team agrees to pay even $2 million of the $21 million owed Bradley, Byrd may be gone.
Or, if a team like the Rays insist on trading Pat Burrell to the Cubs, they would have to flip him to another team before moving forward with Byrd. Oy vey!
Is all this worth the trouble? Saving a couple million to postpone making the needed improvements to a team that looks like a sub-.500 team as currently situated?
Well, to new owner Tom Ricketts, apparently so, because Hendry is under orders not to eat Bradley's entire contract. Makes you wonder if trading Bradley is even worth the trouble at this point.
So, the Byrd watch is on. It makes sense for two reasons: one, he is a former student of new Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, and two, he is the best center fielder left on the free agent market.
The 32-year old Byrd had a slash line of.283/.329/.479/.808, so he is no pancea. But he would be a welcome addition to a team starved for defense and speed, though Byrd doesn't steal bases (8-of-12 in 2009).
Byrd has many suitors, so it's doubtful Hendry can move quickly enough to sign him. It has been reported that Coco Crisp is the next player on his wish list.
But Crisp would be quite a drop off from Byrd.
In the meantime, Mr. Ricketts, have fun worrying about getting additional revenue streams while your 2010 Cubs looks like a fourth-place team.
The starting pitching is, for the first time in a couple years, looking like a major concern. With Ted Lilly coming off of surgery, and Rich Harden gone, we desperately need another solid starter. But that isn't going to happen.
Meanwhile, everybody's heard about the Byrd...the Byrd is the word, come to think of it.