For those of you waiting with baited breath, I now pronounce the Paul Byrd Era begun!
The Braves' evident insistence that Paul Byrd will not only be able to handle a starters' workload, really, but that he'll be able to help Atlanta overcome their current deficit in the N.L. East, really, he will, might be seen as charmingly persistent. It might, if it didn't have air of pathetic desperation as a 10 mile high mechanical Bender bellowing, "Remember me! Remember me!"
Leo, we're going to remember you. Whether Paul Byrd ever throws a pitch for the Atlanta Braves or not.
There is precious little reason to expect Byrd to actually pitch well for the Braves, not this season. He's had one particularly good season, it was two years ago and it was almost certainly a statistical fluke, a decent ERA that belied a pathetic strikeout rate and too many homeruns allowed.
And all of this is without mentioning that Byrd is a finesse, command and control pitcher coming off a surgery that robs pitchers of a large part of their command and control. Reports of increased velocity during Byrd's rehab starts are encouraging, but not half as encouraging as reports of good ERAs or solid command would be. It's hard to get too enthusiastic about two separate rehab stints with ERAs over seven.
I understand the Braves are in a tough spot with regards to their starting rotation. Horacio Ramirez is still nursing a shoulder ailment. Mike Hampton is suffering from a "badly bruised pitching arm."
But the solution to those ills isn't to haul in a pitcher who's probably going to pitch like Greg Maddux's first three starts of last year. That wasn't any fun to watch, and the Braves simply are not in a good enough position to be punting starts on Paul Byrd's' extended spring training.