Friday, March 12, 2010

2010 Cubs preview: Center field

Some solid CF defense would help out the Cubs' pitching staff.

For the second time in two years, Jim Hendry signed a free agent outfielder from the Rangers with the initials M.B. Let's hope that in terms of on-field production and off-the-field antics and attitude, the initials will be the extent of how much history repeats itself.

Milton Bradley recently complained that Cubs fans expected too much from him last year. While he rarely says anything true (enjoy that big bag of crazy, Seattle), there's a grain of truth to this statement. When your team's GM gives someone $30 million over three years, it's hard to remember that the guy makes Rich Harden look durable and that he's had just one 20+ home run season in his career.

So while Byrd's contract was a little more reasonable, we still need to avoid falling into the same trap. Byrd's home run totals since 2003:

2003: 7
2004: 5
2005: 2
2006: 5
2007: 10
2008: 10
2009: 20

Byrd has averaged less than 50 RBI per season since '03, though in his three seasons under new Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, he had 70, 53, and then 89 last year. His last three seasons are three reasons why Jaramillo may have been the Cubs' biggest free agent signing this past offseason. But while Byrd's 2009 season--.283 avg, 20 HR, 89 RBI--was solid, it would be unrealistic to assume he will reproduce his career year.

By the way--as far as average goes, Byrd has been all over the place, from a .228 in 2004 to a .307 in 2007.

Prediction: .287, 14 HR, 68 RBI

What do you think?

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