Angry Byrd

Byrd

I don’t hate the Marlon Byrd deal (two years/$16M) but I hate the Marlon Byrd deal.

Why I don’t hate it: it’s typical Amaro as far as buying high and early– Byrd’s OPS+ by season since he turned 30 in 2008 (remember, 100 is average, above 100 is better, below 100 is worse): 122, 106, 105, 96, 33 (in 143 AB), 138 (his highest ever)–but the term and dollars aren’t bad, he’s an upgrade over 2013’s Mayberry/Delmon Young/Ruf as a regular outfielder both offensively and defensively (Byrd’s career dWAR according to Baseball Reference: 1.3; Delmon Young’s career dWAR: -9.7), and he’s worth a few B-/C+ prospects at the deadline if the Phils are hopelessly out of contention. Plus the other free agent outfielders (Cruz, Granderson, Ellsbury, Choo) are either overrated, health risks, age-related decline risks, the object of potential nine-figure contract bidding wars, or all of the above. (The best free agent Amaro signed last offseason was Not Josh Hamilton.)

Why I hate it: what’s the upside to this signing? Raúl Ibañez’s 2009 (when he was only a year older than Byrd will be next season) for a team missing the 2009 versions of Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins, and Chase Utley (whose 2013 version was still pretty good)?

Marlon Byrd was a 5 WAR player between the Mets and Pirates last season. He was never even a 3.5 WAR player in any single season before 2013 (the worth of WAR as a single-season statistic, or a statistic at all, is a separate discussion). Even if he has the same exact season in 2014– which he won’t–how much will he help the Phillies? Would the 2014 Phillies maybe be better off investing in someone who might actually help the 2017 or 2018 Phillies? (Note: whoever this someone may be is likely not within their system at the moment, though he may be in someone else’s. Odds are also better than even that some other GM will find him before Amaro will.)

The other downside? Marlon Byrd’s five most similar batters by Similarity Scores: Jay Payton (done at 35), Aaron Rowand (done at 33), Wil Cordero (go Expos! and done at 31), Disco Dan Ford (done at 31), and Bernard Gilkey (done as a platoon player at 34). Shane Victorino is 8th and he’ll be 34 next season. We’ll give him a few more years.

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