Marlon Byrd lost 40 pounds after the 2011 baseball season, but more importantly, he has lost over .200 points off his batting average.
In 2011, Byrd had a batting average of .276 with nine home runs and 35 RBIs. Nine games into the 2012 season, Byrd has a batting average of .065 with two RBIs.
During the past offseason, Byrd added a new weight loss program that included martial arts workouts and changes to his diet that allowed him to go from 255 pounds to 215. Byrd has even been quoted as saying that he is in the best shape of his life, but yet it is not translating into the batter’s box.
Has Byrd become too timid after getting bones broken in his face by a pitch against the Red Sox last season? Before his injury, Byrd was batting .308, but after returning from the DL, he only hit .255.
Byrd has seen himself drop in the batting order from third at some points during last season to eighth now batting just above the pitcher.
If Byrd cannot get his bat working at the plate, now may be the time for team president Theo Epstein, GM Jed Hoyer, and manager Dave Sveum to look towards the future that is shining bright in Triple-A.
Brett Jackson, the Cubs’ 2009 first round draft pick, is hitting .273 in Iowa with three doubles, a triple, two home runs, and six RBIs. Last season, in time spent in Double A-Tennessee and Triple A, Jackson hit 20 homers and had 58 RBIs.
A decision will need to be made soon if the Cubs want to have any hope of salvaging this season after starting 3-7 and losing five games to division rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers.
Jackson is expected to join the major league club at some point this season, and with the current play of Marlon Byrd, he may be patrolling the outfield at Wrigley sooner than expected.
But if only it was that simple – Byrd, alongside fellow fielding-mates Alfonso Soriano and David DeJesus, claim a respective $29 million between the three outfielders. For Epstein and the Cubs, Byrd’s future becomes an issue between wins and dollars. Which is more important to the new president? Time will tell.