Marlon Byrd: Game Changer
Marlon Byrd is the single most important addition the Pittsburgh Pirates have made since…. ever. Yes, better than the Bonilla trade in ’82. Better than the Van Slyke trade in ’87, and certainly better than the Bay/Perez trade in ’03. The only other trade in recent memory that can compare is the Charlie Morton/Jeff Locke (and Gorkys Hernandez) trade with the Braves in exchange for Nate McClouth. The past two years have seen the Pirates make additions to contending teams that have flat out failed. Travis Snider and Gaby Sanchez are competent role players with the team this year, but they weren’t, and aren’t, game changers. Marlon Byrd is.
Attempting to evaluate what the Pirates truly lost in this trade at this moment is impossible. Dilson Herrera was and is way too far away from contributing in the senior circuit that it may take three or four years to see what he can accomplish. Vic Black certainly showed promise with his 100 mph fastball, but he struggled with command and didn’t impress coming out of the bullpen. Regardless, none of that matters. Byrd gives the Pirates a chance to win right now. His bat has brought an immediate and potent threat into the lineup. His two homers as a Pirate both were important, especially Saturday night’s (obviously). It’s not just the home runs though. Byrd is hitting .326 in September with five doubles and six RBI. Every time he steps to the plate he is a danger to hurt the opposition. The offense is an entirely different beast with him in the lineup.
In short, Marlon Byrd is a game changer. He is the type of player that can totally change a team’s outlook on a season. This team has a real shot to win it all this season because of Byrd. I genuinely do not believe that is an overstatement. It’s the truth. He may be only a rental player, but at least he is the right rental player.
Last night’s game is a textbook example. McCutchen found a way to get on base, like he always does, with one out. Byrd stepped to the plate the next at-bat and blooped a Texas-leaguer behind short and in front of center. Byrd’s clutch hit allowed fellow August-acquisition Justin Morneau to notch his first RBI as a Bucco and the game wining run. No offense to Pedro Alvarez, Russell Martin, or any of the other Pirates who have hit cleanup this year, but they often times failed in situations similar to yesterday’s. Alvarez may lead the league in homers, but he also leads the Pirates with runners stranded on base this year. Byrd is visibly and noticeably winning this team games. His bat makes the Pirates a true World Series contender.