While the Chicago Cubs fans are disappointed with the team performance so far this year, they finally have one thing to cheer about. CF Marlon Byrd, the Cubs’ only representative in this year’s Midsummer Classic, proved that he belonged to the All-Star team. 

His contribution in Anaheim was huge in the National League’s victory over the American League for the first time in 13 years. In the seventh inning of the game, he fought back from a 0-2 count against pitcher Matt Thornton on a eight-pitch at-bat to get walked and later scored on Brian McCann’s game-winning double. 

In the bottom ninth, as right fielder, he made a precise throw to shortstop Rafael Furcal to force out David Ortiz at second base. The Cubs desperately need him to bring back this kind of his play to the team. 

The Chicago Cubs (39-50), positioning themselves on very thin ice from the Opening Day, are having no margin of error whatsoever in the remaining games. Sitting in the fourth position in the NL Central, they are nine and a half games behind the division leader Cincinnati Reds. 

In order to get a chance to play in October, they need an immediate mend, the kind that Colorado Rockies had in 2007 by winning 21 games out of 29 to clinch the wild-card berth.   

As Jim Hendry’s initial game plan of the season, 1B Derrek Lee (.233 AVG), 3B Aramis Ramirez (.207 AVG), and starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano (on restricted list to undergo anger management), were supposed to be the key guys in Cubs’ success. But they all have miserable season.  

With the failures of the superstars, Marlon Byrd becomes the best acquisition that the Cubs made in the off-season; a three year $15 million contract offered to the man from Boynton Beach, Fl., which is a good deal. Penciled in 87 of 89 games, he is the workhorse for manager Lou Piniella. 

His numbers are the best among his teammates: .317 AVG, 47 R, 105 H, 40 RBI, .480 SLG. And he has been very productive in situational play; with runners on base, he is hitting .320, scoring 43 runs and having 36 RBI. Defensively, he makes only two errors in 771 innings of play.

Aged 32, Byrd was a journeyman between big league and farm clubs in his early career with the Philadelphia Phillies and the Washington Nationals. Drafted in the tenth round by the Phillies in 1999, the center fielder finally earned his regular spot with the Texas Rangers where he played almost three complete seasons. Now with the Cubs, he has blossomed and seems to fit perfectly in the North side of Chicago.

The Cubs are running out of time. We will find out soon whether it will be a make-or-break season for them.  If they cannot catch up with the Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals before the trade deadline on July 31, they have only one managerial alternative—rebuilding the team and hoping for the best next year.

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