Saturday, February 28, 2015

Johnny Manziel has nothing to do with Marlon Byrd in center field but I'm going to write about both

A quick riff on last night's NFL Draft, and this morning's Marlon Byrd to center field speculation.

Johnny Manziel has nothing to do with Marlon Byrd in center field but I'm going to write about both

Marlon Byrd. (Matt Slocum/AP)
Marlon Byrd. (Matt Slocum/AP)

So, it's early May, the Phillies just fell to three games under .500, and the Eagles just drafted a hybrid defensive end/linebacker. We can now officially say that spring has sprung. At some point, someone is going to examine the species H. Sapiens in one of those Discovery Channel watch-the-gazelle-as-it-grazes documentaries and all of us are going to realize that all we are is antelopes with pre-frontal cortexes. Perhaps there is just something in our nature that causes us to overestimate the capabilities of bullpens and overvalue projectible edge rushers. Without a doubt, there is something in our nature that enables us to forget each year about how we should value headlines like this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

And, of course, this:

It's almost as if we'd all be better off using our own observational and critical thinking skills to forecast reality than relying on the word of some vested interest, be it "scout" or "source" or "exec" or even "everybody in the league." Because if everybody in the league says something, and that something does not occur, then one of those everybodies was lying, or misdirecting, or smoke-screening. Which, come to think of it, is exactly what I would do if I was one of those everybodies, and probably what you all would do too, because, again, when you really break it down, we're all the same person, subject to the same behavioral impulses. Wishful thinking is one of those impulses -- a more diplomatic way of putting it might be "observational bias" -- an observation supported by the Browns' decision to move up to snag Manziel. It isn't an awful pick, given the historically long odds of landing an impact player in the bottom third of the first round. Better to draft the future Colt McCoy with the No. 22 pick than the No. 4 pick. Manziel, while in college, just didn't display the kind of rapid-fire decision-making skills required of an NFL quarterback. Maybe it is because he didn't have to, because he was playing behind one of the best offensive lines in the country, and if you are going to get all the time in the world to throw or set up a scramble, you might as well utilize it. But the Eagles were wise not to find out. 

So anyway, the Phillies:

I would not at all be surprised if Marlon Byrd gets a regular look in center field at some point in the future. It just makes sense, and Ryne Sandberg acknowledged the possiblity to the Daily News' Ryan Lawrence yesterday prior to the Phillies fourth-straight loss to the Blue Jays. The main attribute of Tony Gwynn and Ben Revere is supposed to be excellent defense, and if they aren't going to provide it, then the Phillies might as well err on the side of more offense at the position and get another power bat into the lineup. It might not make much sense to do it unless Darin Ruf or some other corner outfielder joins the big league roster, since, at this point, the player replacing Byrd in right would be Gwynn or Revere or John Mayberry Jr. But if the Phillies ever have an opportunity to add more offense by shifting Byrd to center, then they should do it. Probably the most surprising thing about this Phillies team is how good of a defender Byrd is in right field. Sandberg raved about it the other day. He has excellent instincts and runs excellent routes, and he's played center field before. If Revere continues to struggle at the plate, and if Ruf returns to the active roster, the move would make sense, even if it is only against lefties. 

At the same time, let's not forget that at this time last year Revere was hitting .229/.276/.257 with two extra base hits in 118 plate appearances, yet all I heard all offseason was how much the Phillies were going to be helped by Revere’s return to the lineup after missing the final couple months of the season with a broken foot. He was just as bad offensively at this time last year as he is now. In fact, he was worse. From May 10 to until his injury last season, Revere hit .345/.372/.403 with 10 extra base hits in 218 plate appearances. If he does that this year, the Byrd to center field discussion might be moot. If he doesn't, another option to fill the corner outfield role (with Byrd in center) could be Cameron Perkins, who is hitting .359/.405/.530 at Double-A Reading. There’s a lot to like about him. He’s kind of a Hunter Pence type, not real orthodox in anything that he does, but it works for him. He’s 23 years old, a college guy from Purdue. Not an ideal situation, but it’s all about the options at your disposal, and the Phillies do not have many at this point. 

 

 

 

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David Murphy Daily News Staff Writer
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