Phillies Sign Baez, Cubs Sign Byrd

The Philadelphia Phillies have signed Danys Baez to a two-year contract. The veteran righty reliever missed all of 2008 due to an elbow injury requiring Tommy John surgery, and came back last year to pitch in 59 games and post a 4.02 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP and 40 K in 79 IP. Without knowing the dollar value on the deal it’s hard to say whether it’s a great signing, but he is potentially a very good addition to the Phillies bullpen — he essentially replaces Chan Ho Park in the 7th-inning role, but with his closing experience could also move into either the job of setup man or possibly closer if Brad Lidge has more meltdowns. Before the TJ surgery Baez had electric stuff and once saved 41 games — as far as raw skills go he wasn’t far from K-Rod. His performance dropped considerably in 2006, and in early 2007 he began to complain of “forearm tightness”, eventually hitting the DL with that symptom — which is nearly always a precursor to an elbow injury. So it’s possible his woes in ’06 — his walk year — may have been due to a hidden injury.

In any case he threw enough last year to prove he was healthy. I didn’t see him first-hand so can’t comment on whether he still has the lights-out stuff. The numbers say “no”, but he was in his first year after TJ surgery, in the AL East, and not in a closer role — so who knows? It’s a good move for the Phils considering that they are not necessarily counting on him to be more than a middle reliever.

In other news, the Cubs signed Marlon Byrd to a 3-year, $15M contract. So far Jim Hendry has not been assassinated, which is amazing considering that this asinine decision comes a year after the equally ill-advised signing of Milton Bradley (and trade of Mark DeRosa). When Byrd first came up with the Phillies he was a “five tool” player but he never flashed all five tools at once. His career path is eerily similar to that of Gary Matthews, Jr.: toolsy youngster, never better than a 5th outfielder, suddenly erupts with a career year at age 31 in Texas under the tutelage of hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo (and any other “help” ?) in a walk year, then signs a ridiculously over-valued contract. OK, Sarge Jr. got a stupid 5/$50M, but a 3/$15M for Byrd is nearly as irresponsible — was anyone else in the bidding?

Nothing against Marlon Byrd. He’s a nice enough guy, he might hit .285, and he’ll provide good defense, but my bet is the Cubs will rue this signing more than they celebrate it.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. CatchDog January 2, 2010 at 9:10 am
    Omar loved Baez back in 2005 when he was with the Rays. At one point, there was talk of a deal involving then second baseman Jorge Cantu and Baez for Heilman and a couple of prospects.
  2. Harry Chiti January 3, 2010 at 10:29 am
    Hooray! Malon Byrd is not coming to the Mets.
    As for the Phillies, I question virtually all the moves they have made. Multi year deal for older guys and backups, should come back to haunt them sooner rather than later. Even the Halladay move only balances their lefty/righty rotation. He can’t perform much better than Lee did for them. And a mid 30’s singles hitter to play 3rd for years. Polanco could very well be their Luis Castillo.