C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting that the Reds have traded pitching prospect Ben Lively to the Phillies for outfielder Marlon Byrd and possibly cash money. Byrd, who turned 37 in August, has produced a .278/.333/.427 line over 5,450 career plate appearances. In 2014, Byrd hit 25 home runs (5 more than his career best) and struck out 185 times, while posting a .312 on base percentage. Disappointing acquisition to say the least; especially for a team that struggled getting men on base for the past 4 seasons.
Ben Lively is a 22-year-old medium to hard thrower, who spent 2014 at high A Bakersfield and double A Pensacola. Over the course of Lively’s minor league career he has posted strike out rates (K/9) of 11.9 Rk,15.8 A, 10.8 A+, and 9.5 AA. He also has displayed excellent control. Several sources projected him to be a mid rotation starter.
Scout, Ethan Purser wrote this about Lively (via Baseballprospectus.com):
Lively has good stuff across the board and, perhaps more importantly, shows good pitchability with realistic room for growth in this department. He goes into at-bats with a plan, executes, and pitches with major confidence, wanting to shove the fastball down hitters’ throats. The fastball, while not a crazy weapon in terms of pure velocity, plays up due to its sneakiness and gives the pitcher a weapon going forward. The secondary arsenal is highlighted by the potential above-average slider, and while the curveball and changeup only project to average at the highest level, Lively should be able to deploy these pitches with confidence and keep hitters guessing with a few minor refinements. Overall, Lively looks like a good bet to blossom into a mid-rotation workhorse, a great outcome from a fourth-round selection. He should be ready sometime in 2015.
Unless the Reds end up in the World Series on the back of Marlon Byrd (unlikely), the trade looks to be desperate and doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. If I were the Phillies, I would’ve unloaded a 38 year old outfielder, who just had his best season in years, for a starting pitcher in a heart beat. What is Walt doing?