In Which I Wake Up Screaming After Yet Another Marlon Byrd Nightmare

I had the dream again last night. It always ends the same way. I bolt awake in a cold sweat, eyes wide but unseeing, my legs kicking out with fury, and I scream, “Nooooooo!”

“Shhhh, shhhh,” my wife consoles me. “It’s just a dream, a bad dream. It’ll be okay, promise.”

I wish it were so easy.

But this is a dream from which I cannot wake. I’m haunted by the same visions, day after day. It got worse yesterday.

FILE:  Marlon Byrd Tests Positive For PED

First at-bat against Stephen Strasberg, Marlon Byrd — the consummate singles hitter — launches an opposite field double into the gap between center and right. He chugs into second base, smiling, looking fit, looking like a major leaguer.

In his second at-bat, Byrd notches another base hit.

That’s when reality morphs with dreaming, for next I see Terry Collins dab the corner of his eye with an index finger. He is wiping away a tear. Three words scroll across Terry’s skull like the bright neon feed at Times Square:

PROVEN VETERAN LEADERSHIP!

And later, in his office, that’s the conversation that plays in my imagination. Terry with a big smile, shaking his head in wonderment at the Mets good fortune, “I’ll tell ya what,” he says to a gathered group of reporters, “you’re looking at a guy who can make a huge difference. We might have found ourselves a right fielder.”

Or was that real?

mlb_u_collins11_300

Because the frightening part is this: Terry is falling in love. I know this guy, I know his vulnerabilities. Marlon Byrd is exactly the kind of player who — zing! — zips an arrow through Terry’s aorta. Birds sing, cherubs flutter, harps play.

Like a father watching helplessly as his teenage daughter rides off on the back of some ex-con’s Harley, I want to cry out, “He’s no good for you, Terry. He’s no good!”

For a while, like so many relationships, things look swell in the beginning. Marlon hits .320 over the first few weeks in April. He strokes a few clutch hits, bounces a walk-off grounder through the hole, gets his face filled with pie on SNY.

Then it all turns sour. Why? Because water will always find it’s level. Because you can’t turn dross into gold. Because Marlon Byrd sucks.

Across enough games the BABIP will even out. That extra juice that comes during an old player’s last chance — putting that bounce in Marlon’s step — it will all dry up. He’ll return to being Marlon Byrd. A single here and there, just enough to keep the numbers almost respectable, but little else. He’s not going to help the Mets win. And he’s surely not going to contribute in any way to the team’s success in 2014.

I don’t want to see the Mets give this guy 400 ABs before coming to that realization. Because those ABs are an investment not to be squandered.

It would be like playing Justin Turner at 2B while Flores and Valdespin watch from the bench.

In 153 PAs in 2012, Marlon Byrd got 3 XBH for a slash line of .210/.243/.245. If we are looking for a replacement for Jason Bay, this is the guy.

He did this while taking performance-enhancing drugs.

Some will say:

“But he was an All-Star in 2010!”

“But he slugged above .450 three seasons in a row in Texas!”

“But . . . PROVEN VETERAN LEADERSHIP!”

Okay, maybe he’ll be okay-enough for six weeks. I’ll concede that. But it’s still a waste of time, because Marlon Byrd gives us nothing as the Mets move into the future. He’s not a kid establishing value in the marketplace, he’s not a guy who might turn into something. He’s Marlon Byrd, hanging on. He’s that saddest thing of all: a corner outfielder without pop. And then his curled, tired fingers will lose their grip and he will plummet to the ground like Wile E. Coyote. Poof. A cloud of dust. It won’t be pretty.

Wile-E-Coyote_falling

 

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5 comments

  1. Craig Roth says:

    I agree Byrd is way past his usefulness and at his age mid thirties I ‘m not sure
    how long he will last before he breaks down or goes into his normal season long
    slump? TC is too bullheaded for his own good, has a one track mind and once he gets a notion in his head there’s no stopping him! His bad year last year should
    be TC’s first hint but even though he’s blind his last good year(a couple of years ago) he hit 12 hr’s and drove in 66 rbi’s hardly great #’s for a corner outfielder
    on a team that really needs a right handed hitting RF who can drive in run’s and
    bat fifth to protect Davis! I would like to see Brown get a real chance because
    he’s 28 years old and showed some power in the minors!

  2. Michael Geus says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Craig. A lot of our other options are serious question marks, at best, but Byrd is a known quantity.

    And it is not what we need.

  3. The problem is options, there really aren’t any good ones. Byrd looks good, comparatively. It’s really about the ABs for me. Keep him at 200-225, he might have some value as a veteran on a young team (I kid, but there is value in that), as a PH and against some LHP.

    On Valdespin: It’s tough because he’s a lefty batter, but I’d really like to see him get a sustained look. Terry couldn’t find a way to get him on the field last season, which was frustrating, and when he did it came in fits and spurts. Maybe Jordany takes Kirkkk’s job, if Cowgill proves he can handle CF?

  4. Eric says:

    INVESTING ab’s—that’s the concept—This guy is a bad investment unless they are just looking to develop some trade value for these older players
    they’ve signed

  5. […] year around this time, I wrote a piece about Marlon Byrd with a similar title to the one above. In it, I described all the reasons why it was insane for the […]

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