Marlon Byrd: The Difference Maker

Aug 28, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Marlon Byrd (2) is congratulated by second baseman Josh Harrison (5) and shortstop Jordy Mercer (10) after hitting a three run home run in his Pirate debut against the Milwaukee Brewers during the seventh inning at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 7-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

This week the Pirates could have traded away two top 20 prospects (depending on whether Vic Black is indeed the PTBNL) for two players in their mid-thirties…what were they thinking right?? Well it turns out they were thinking about fixing the biggest glaring hole in the Pirates’ lineup. All year Pittsburgh has been looking for an answer in right but to no true avail. Snider, Tabata, Presley, Lambo, and short stints of Jones have all been used at the position, but no one has come through. Marlon Byrd is that everyday player that can make a true difference in this playoff race. In his debut with the Bucs Byrd hit a 3-run shot to insure the win and earlier in the game had a 14 pitch at bat.

It’s no secret Pittsburgh needed an upgrade in right as statistically they were receiving the lowest production in the league from the position. Byrd has 22 homers and 74 RBIs on the season, both good for top 10 in the NL. Byrd can also help a team that has struggled against LHP. Walker, Alvarez, Jones, and Martin have all struggled against lefties this year. Byrd has not. The newest Pirate has a .338/.376/.585 triple slash against lefties on the year. His ability to hit left-hander’s also allows Pedro to move down in the order when facing a LH starter.

Aug 28, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Marlon Byrd (2) reacts in the dugout against the Milwaukee Brewers during the second inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The best part of this deal is the fact that even though the Pirates gave up two top-20 prospects they didn’t mortgage the future in the least. Dilson Herrera is a great talent in the middle of the infield but is expendable. He is only in Low A and with an extension for Walker likely, the emergence of Mercer, and Alan Hanson moving his way through the minors, Herrera likely would have been blocked somewhere along the way.

The toughest part of the trade for me is the rumor that Vic Black is the other player in the trade. Black has electric stuff and true closer potential. However, the Pirates have the arms in the system to make up for it. The obvious immediate answers to replace Black are fellow AAA relievers, Ryan Reid and Duke Welker. Both have made short debuts in the show this year and both have been great for Indianapolis. There are also great young arms down in the league that wont pan out as true starters and can be made into quality relievers.

Overall, I could not be happier about this trade. The front office sent a message saying they believe in this team by trading away some high profile talent for a rental. Nevertheless, that rental might just be what the Pirates need to push them over the hump.

It’s unlikely Buck will be a difference maker but does supply a security blanket for Martin and Sanchez when he’s recalled. Yes, the price was high, but the depth in the minors is there for a reason. Every once in a while it’s necessary to pull the trigger and Byrd could be the boost Pittsburgh needs.

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