Cubs Management Has Gone to the Byrd(s); Other Fireworks…

Not having enough outfielders who may have already peaked (Soriano, the now gone Bradley, Fukudome, Sam Fuld), the Cubs signed another former Ranger, Marlon Byrd, to a three-year deal worth $15 million.  Byrd, now 32, figures to be the new centerfielder having had his best season ever at Texas replacing the injured Josh Hamilton in center last year.  [FoxSports]

Look – on the surface, Byrd looks pretty darned good.  20 homers, 43 doubles, and a batting average hovering around .280.  However, his walk rate fell, his strikeout rate increased, and he’s had his first season that looked really, really productive.  Nothing else in his record suggests that he’s really a 20 homer guy.  I mean, it looks like he tried to add power with Hamilton out – and having to bat in the cleanup spot.  This, by the way, is to his credit.  Byrd had a solid 2009 season.

Then there is the defensive record.  No AL team had worse defensive range in centerfield.  The average Ranger centerfielder made nearly eight fewer plays for every 800 balls in play – some 45 hits allowed that other pitchers didn’t have to deal with.  I’m sure Carlos Zambrano and Ted Lilly and Ryan Dempster are going to appreciate that kind of support right up the middle.

Encarnacion Burned in Fireworks Accident

Toronto infielder Edwin Encarnacion is being treated for first and second degree burns on his face after being struck in the jaw with a firework that then exploded near him as well.  He did not require surgery, but traveled from the Dominican Republic to Miami for treatment.  [SI]

New Year Birthday Greetings!

Birthdays on the First include Tim Keefe (1857), Bumphus Jones (1870) – Bumphus threw a no-hitter in his first MLB start, Ethan Allen (1904), Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg (1911), Earl Torgeson (1924), Bob Owchinko and La Marr Hoyt (1955), and Fernando Tatis (1975).

Those born on 1/2 (a palindrome date – 01/02/2010) include Pinky Whitney (1905), Red Kress (1907), Bill Madlock (1951), Jim Essian (1951), Edgar Martinez (1963), David Cone (1963), Greg Swindell (1965), Royce Clayton (1970), Jeff Suppan (1975), and Ryan Garko (1981).

Those born on 1/3 include Buzz Arlett (1899), Gus Suhr (1906), Chico Hernandez (1916), Virgil Stallcup (1922), Adrian Garrett (1943), Gary Lavelle (1949), Bart Johnson (1950), Randy Hunt (1960), Darren Daulton (1962), Luis Rivera (1964), Luis Sojo (1965) – were Luis Rivera and Luis Sojo the same guy(?), and A.J. Burnett (1977).

And, in case I don’t write tomorrow, those celebrating on 1/4 include Tommy Corcoran (1869), George (Twinkletoes) Selkirk (1908), Herman Franks (1914), Charlie Manuel (1944), Tito Fuentes (1944), Jay Tibbs (1962), Darryl Boston – still a prospect even today (1963), and Kevin Wickander (1965).

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