Nine and five.
The Phillies are 9-5 since the “blockbuster” deal that sent Marlon Byrd to the Nationals for Endy Chavez.
No, it didn’t exactly set the world on fire, and no, he doesn’t look like the next Willie Mays, but both teams managed to address need areas, and the Phillies have indeed played better since the trade occurred.
Since May 17, about the time many of us were asking Charlie Manuel to test out Chavez in the leadoff spot, J-Roll’s batting average and slugging are up more than 30 points. Coincidence? If you suddenly went from fastest to second-fastest man on a team, you’d be intimidated, too.
By the numbers, Washington has gotten more from Byrd than Philadelphia has from Chavez. Byrd went 2-3 Monday night with two doubles and three RBIs in leading the Nats over the Braves 3-2. Though he hasn’t homered this season, his batting average is up to .371 and has a good .421 OBP.
Unlike Byrd, Chavez is blocked out of a regular spot in center field, and rightfully so. The platoon of Jason Michaels and Kenny Lofton represents one of Charlie Manuel’s managerial bright spots. Though his playing time with Lofton back is practically nill, he’s given the Phils exactly what they wanted: more speed off the bench and a decent glove. He’s been asked to pinch run and hit sac flys, and that’s been good enough.
It’s understandably harder to swallow losing Byrd than Chavez from a fan’s perspective. Byrd was one of the best players to come through the minors in the last ten years. He was phenomenal, and nothing short of a five-tool prospect, but for some reason, he hit a wall once he reached the big leagues.
His rookie season was a little overrated, but in 2004, it became increasingly clear that pitchers could get him out by jamming him inside. It didn’t appear he could salvage his prospect stroke in Philadelphia, and Manuel and his predecessor Larry Bowa didn’t like him much.
"I hit a funk that I couldn't get out of," Byrd told the Washington Post in his first interview as a Nat. "I couldn't find my swing."
So far, he’s split time with Ryan Church in center field. "I'm platooning, at least," Byrd said. "In Philly, I think they looked at me as a fifth outfielder."
If Byrd was to stay in Philly, there’s a chance he’d become a six outfielder or worse someday soon, with Rule 5 addition Shane Victorino hitting for surprise pop in Scranton (9 homers, .497 SLG). The Phillies are also high on Double-A prospect Michael Bourn, who’s flashing all aspects of his game in Reading this season.
Look who’s back
Speaking of Scranton, you’ll never guess who faced the Red Barons yesterday. Former Phillies “ace” Robert Person threw six strong innings for the Charlotte Knights in their 3-2 win Tuesday. Person allowed two runs on four hits, struck out five, but surrendered a two-run homer to Jim Rushford in the third and left with a no-decision after six.
For the season, the 35-year-old is 2-3 with a 7.00 ERA.
Remember the good old days with Robert Person as the Phils No. 1 starter? What's that? You're trying to forget?