Thursday, August 14, 2008

Byrd Ships Up to Boston

General Manager Mark Shapiro held a press conference shortly after the Paul Byrd trade was finalized. There really wasn’t much to report on the waiver-wire deal, but Shapiro’s briefing helped fill in some of the remaining gaps. Shapiro explained that Byrd was moved mainly for “payroll relief” and to have an "opportunity the rest of the way to make some additional decisions, see some additional guys, [and] get more information going into next year."

also did Byrd a bit of a favor in shipping him to a major contender in Boston. Byrd does the Tribe a favor by allowing them to shave about $2 million dollars off their payroll that can be put towards 2009 (Boston will pick up the tab on that one). Shapiro particularly emphasized the player to be named aspect of the trade, as in, there isn’t going to be one. This was purely a payroll dump for a veteran player that no longer fits into the team’s future plans.

It was pretty obvious that Byrd was going to be moved this month, but his 1.24 ERA and 1.10 WHIP over his last four starts made him much more appealing after the trade deadline. Combine that with Boston’s banged up rotation (Wakefield is on the 15-day DL with a bum shoulder, Colon has been hurt for a while, and prospects Buchholz and Zink have been struggling mightily) and you have a trade partner who may not have taken the bait earlier.

Other than that, there’s not much else to say about the transaction. Unfortunately, I can’t wish Byrd any further success in Boston (no hard feelings Paul, I'm sure you understand), but I thought he did a fair job at the back of the rotation during his tenure in Cleveland. At the very least, Byrd was reliable, making 31 starts in each of his two full seasons with the Tribe. He also inexplicably came through in the 2007 playoffs when good pitching seemed hard to come by (*cough*Sabathia*cough*), giving up just two runs against two monster offenses in each of his five inning starts.

Byrd’s other trademarks included his efficient pitch counts (even if he couldn’t always make it six innings before getting roughed up), low walk rate (he averaged one BB every 6.86 innings in 2007), magical ability to get out of nasty jams (or to make them suddenly appear…but I digress), and strong work ethic. Of course, you can’t forget the legendary double-pump delivery. Byrd’s old-fashioned delivery is definitely an oddity these days, but at least it gave the visiting announcers something to talk about when Hafner wasn’t batting (did you know he’s from North Dakota?).

Recent acquisition, Zach Jackson will be starting in place of Byrd on Thursday against Baltimore. I’ll have a post up on Jackson’s debut later on.

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