The Boston Red Sox have had some trouble this season. You may have read about this in certain places. Their collapse last year combined with a front office redraw, a new, controversial, sometimes not altogether smart manager, and a slow start and Red Sox Nation is about to asplode.
To be fair, the Red Sox, in classic pre-2003 Red Sox fashion, have been very unlucky on top of being not very good. Last week, they lost centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury for two months with a subluxed right shoulder. These injuries tend to be troublesome for hitters long after they return, so it’s certainly possible that this will be a lost year for Ellsbury.
The Red Sox’ lineup is more than talented enough to make up for the loss of Ellsbury. Sure, the back-half of that lineup doesn’t look particularly impressive with names such as Cody Ross and Darnell McDonald logging regular playing time, but the foursome of Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis, and David Ortiz are four of the best hitters at their position in the game. There aren’t many teams who can claim to have four players of that calibre in their lineup.
Today, however, news has surfaced that the Red Sox are looking to bolster their currently weak outfield by acquiring Marlon Byrd from the Chicago Cubs. The deal is reportedly close to being completed and could include righthanded reliever Michael Bowden going the other way.
Byrd has had a horrid start to the year, entering today’s game with a .070/.149/.070 slash line in 47 plate appearances with no home runs and ten strikeouts. He’s 34 and will make $6.5-million this season in the final year of a three-year, $15-million deal he signed with the Cubs ahead of the 2010 season. Chances are the Cubs would have to eat some of that salary in order to complete the deal. If Bowden is involved, they may have to eat even more.
Byrd has been a solid outfielder for a number of years and routinely rates out as above average both offensively and defensively. In 2011, he had a .276/.324/.395 slash line with nine home runs in an injury-plagued year in which he played only 119 games. Still, his 93 wRC+ was his first below-average mark since 2006. He’s almost assuredly an upgrade over Cody Ross and Darnell McDonald and should be a nice corner outfield option when Ellsbury returns.
Bowden, meanwhile, has given up one run in three innings of work this season out of the Red Sox bullpen. He was a supplemental first-round pick of the Red Sox back in 2005 and has a 5.61 ERA and 4.71 xFIP in 59.1 career innings at the Major League level.
The Cubs, meanwhile, look to be trading away another chip in their bottom-up rebuild under Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. The move creates room for top prospect centerfielder Brett Jackson, but due to service time considerations, it’s unlikely that the Cubs will call him up right away. It’s more likely that speedster and future valuable fourth outfielder Tony Campana will be called up from AAA-Iowa to play every day centerfield.