New York Mets: Marlon Byrd Set To Open 2013 As Starting Right Fielder

By Thom Tsang


Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

So on one hand, New York Mets fan can probably be resigned to the fact that Marlon Byrd is probably going to be out in right field on Opening Day.

On the other hand … well, at least it’s Marlon Byrd?

According to Kristie Ackert and Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, the Mets are indeed likely to make their minor league signee their major league outfielder when the 2013 season begins. For Byrd, who was facing a self-imposed “last chance” at making the bigs, this will come as a redemption of sorts, as many had believed that the 35-year old’s career was just about done.

For the Mets? Well, it’ll mean that their historically deficient projected outfield might actually have a bit of upside, even if age isn’t on Byrd’s side these days.

Sure, the veteran outfielder hasn’t been the same player since being hit in the face with an Alfredo Aceves fastball in 2012, but it’s easy to forget that he was actually a fairly productive player (7.9 fWAR from 2009-2011) in the major leagues prior to that unfortunately incident.

That spring, for what you think it might be worth, that form may be coming back. Byrd has played in 13 Grapefruit League games thus far, notching 11 hits over 34 at-bats, including four doubles, with just six strikeouts. The veteran doesn’t seem lost like he did last spring (18 strikeouts over 66 at-bats), and he’s been distancing himself from his competition on the roster.

By that, I really mean Mike Baxter, who has just four singles over 34 spring at-bats, to go along with 10 strikeouts.

He might still end up finding a starting job depending on Kirk Nieuwenhuis‘s recovery schedule and Matt Den Dekker‘s progress (he’s scuffling in spring as well). But at this point, the job should probably go to Byrd, with Baxter competing with Jordany Valdespin (who is doing well) and Lucas Duda (who is not doing so well) for the final spots of a wide-open outfield.

So, as I said, you could really look at this in a couple of ways. A ‘glass-half-empty’ look says that a 35-year old Marlon Byrd coming off being unceremoniously dumped is one of the winners for the job competition in the outfield — which is a little sad.

The ‘glass-half-full’ one, however, says that the Mets have a nice little redemption story at their hands, and if Byrd can get anywhere close to his pre-broken face form, there might just be some hope for that outfield yet.

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