10/20 Changing the culture

I can’t really talk about the culture of winning because I haven’t been on a team that’s been to the playoffs. But at the same time, I was on teams that were on their way. I saw the beginning and I saw right before the teams started to win. I was on the Phillies coming up and got traded in ’05. In ’06, they were one game away, and ’07 was the first trip to the playoffs and that started their dynasty now. I saw the culture change over there. I saw them building within. I saw the young guys — we would have second- and third-rounders who would come in, high school kids who got paid big bucks, and their first year in Spring Training, and if they came in and weren’t in shape, they got rid of them. There was no b.s. involved in that organization as far as teaching and development. If you weren’t their type of player you had to go, it didn’t matter what they paid you.

Of course, nowadays, guys are getting paid more but at the same time, it didn’t happen that way. That culture in Tampa, they don’t mess with their top pick. When they had the first pick overall, they didn’t miss. And they produce. Same thing in Texas. That culture over there completely changed. In 2007, I came in and it seemed like it was a good team but the team really didn’t come together like you wanted, didn’t really have that chemistry. It was a great group of guys but it didn’t come together. Then, there was the influx of Mike Maddux and an influx of Ron Washington and an influx of Nolan Ryan, and they brought in all the right players. That was a huge step they made. From ’07 to ’08 to ’09, from 2007-08, getting beat down by the Angels, then us almost making the playoffs in 2009. But dominating the Angels changed everything in the AL West. You saw that last year in 2010. How the Rangers played, they weren’t scared of anybody.

It starts at the top. That’s automatic. I like what Pat Gillick says: “I’m not here to rebuild, I’m here to remodel.” That’s what he does and that’s what he did in Philly. That’s what Nolan did in Texas. It starts at the top but you have to put every single piece together. Ron Washington comes in and he says, “I need a Ron Washington team.” What did they do? They gave him a Ron Washington team — a team with speed, a team with defense, a team with pitching, a team with timely hitting. Now it seems like all the guys they have there are superstars.

What Pat Gillick did in Philly, he kept bringing in the right players and not just big name players, but players who are big names and they produce at the same time. Changing that culture, it’s not an easy thing to do. You need the right people in place at the top. Then you have to pick the right people all the way down.

— Marlon


  1. Felix

    Marlon … I have a lot of respect for the way you play the game, and if the Cubs are smart, they’ll look for more guys with your work ethic. I hope you’ll be wearing Cubs’ blue for many seasons to come.


      • tim D

        you do realize he missed a considerable amount of time after taking a 90+ heater to the face right? Even after that he was 1 of the few Cubs that gave it all he had everytime he stepped on the field

      • JL

        Well said. You know Beltre only played in 125 games and had a 100 RBIs. Byrd has to take his hustle somewhere else. He hit third alot and then hit 5th and 6th. He hit .180 or less with RISP. nice to hear about his baths and his dead lifts. I need someone who can get more than 40 RBIs in a yr. Yes he got hit by a pitch. He was bad before that happened and worse when he came back.

    • Kenneth Wilbur

      Funny thing about what Marlon wrote….In Philly the year before they made the big change, they traded marlon, in Texas they came in and traded Marlon, seems to be a pattern, if all it took was hustle, a good work ethic, there would be a much of players that would be stars that are not….you have to take what the pitcher gives you, take some walks, work the count, you can’t just swing at the first pitch near the plate and hit into a double play….

    • herman

      no if theyre smart they’ll find a guy with byrds work ethic that can also HIT THE BALL and STEAL BASES….marlon doesn’t bring enough to the table and i hope they trade his candy ace

  2. Ryan

    I’m sorry but if we are talking about changing the culture we need to be rid of guys like Byrd – his swing at the 1st pitch mentality especially with runners in scoring position will NOT lead us to a championship season.

  3. Cub's Fan!

    The Byrd man play’s with a lot of heart. he run’s his butt off, in the field and he get’s a ground ball hit as well. hope his around for as long as they can.

  4. Hector

    As much as a like his intensity and his hard play, i would like to see Campana get a chance at the starting nod in CF !! i hope he does well in the fall league in Arizona and where ever he plays in the winter. he’s a spart plug and where ever he hits with his speed he will add one more offensive threat to the line up !!

  5. Cubfan

    bottom line marlin plays the game the way its supposed to be played, players who hustle are hard to find anymore. no offense to aramis but he never hustles, his talent is through the roof but i feel like he does enough to get by, he isn’t a hard worker. yes he produces, but you wonder what he could be if he had that extra gear.

  6. allan

    Marlon Byrd plays as hard as anybody on this team.That is all you can ask for from a player.We did not have a crappy team because of him.It was bad for many reasons and had we had pitching like Philadelphia things would have been different.

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  8. Bill Landram

    Anyone who wants to blame Marlon for the team’s poor play is sorely mistaken. Yes, his BA with RISP was down, but look at 2010. It was rather high, and he had a good RBI total, this year alot of his woes can be attributed to getting injured in Boston right when his swing was comming around. As a person who played the game before I went blind, and as a pitcher, that is the last thing you want to see because you cause not just the bodily harm, but mental as well. Byrd, I know you’ll do fine in 11, and against others suggestions, I’d rather see you stay in center, and put Campana in RF. Soriano is just about done, and has been on a steady decline for the last 4 years. I know Sori works hard, but I think his age is catching him. His bad speed is down, and pitch recognition is down as he chases that low and away slider consistantly. As for Rammy, yeah, I agree he lacks some hustle, but there is no bertter option out there at 3rd especially with Vitters off a couple years, and LeMahue having a lack of power for a corner spot. Byrd needs to stay right where he is, and his ethic and personal expectation may rub off on the other guys, with the right manager, I think Byrd will be a huge part of turning the Cubbies around, Go Byrd, and Go Cubs.

  9. afterbirth666

    You’re a good man and I hope you stay with the Cubs to show the young guys how to be a true major leaguer (on the field and off), but wherever you are I’ll root for you.

    • paul

      Yes then you would have, a 3rd baseman with no power, a SS who steals <20 bases hits <10 homers a year and a 2nd baseman in Dewitt has yet to prove he can crack a major league starting lineup. If you remember, Dewitt all but has the starting job to start spring training….Barney out played him and won the job from him. I wouldn't be confident that he has gotten consistent enough to start in 2011, Dewitt is Fontenot II. While we are at it, let's move Colvin to 1b. Then our entire infield, including our catcher can hit <50 homers combined and less than <250 RBI's combined. That comes to an average per player of 10 homers and 50 RBIs. I don't see this being a winning combination.

  10. lceel

    Since we got around to Rammy in comments – yes, there is an option at third: Castro. Barring changes in infield personnel beyond Pena, move Castro to third, put DeWitt at second and Barney at short. DeWitt is a solid bat who really deserves more playing time than he got in ’11, Barney has the range to play Short, and Castro has the arm and range to play third. The thing about Rammy, though, is his RBI production – which will be missed. Castro, as he matures and gets stronger, will be the man to replace Rammy – at third and at the plate.

    • JL

      Rammy has to be signed to a 3 yr deal. He was the best every day 3B offensively in all of baseball. He has been awesome for like ten yrs in a row (minus one yr he hit .241). Castro can play 3B in 3 yrs. Or move him to 2B and Barney to SS. Castro is not a SS. We need Soriano to go away. We can pay 80 percent to ship him. He can say he has a no trade. We can say, you will play once a week only. He will bolt pretty quick. And we need Danks and CJ added, maybe even that kid from the Marlins, Sanchez. We have NO pitching except Garza and Cash.

  11. PaintersGhost

    The man is all heart…No bitching, no complaining. The man took a ball to his face and climbed back in the box, so who cares if the numbers were down a little. He hustles, he has composure, he’s a gamer. I wish more players were like him. Marlon you’re everything my 1st Wildcat Baseball coach tried to instill in us as 7/8yr olds. Keep up the good work whether it be in Cubbie Blue or some other uniform…I enjoy watching you!

  12. Mike Meyers

    I swear to god if I hear one more comment about his lack of RBI…

    The guy didn’t have the best year, especially with RISP. And he hit into too many DP’s by swinging at the first pitch. That can be righted next year. Guys with no hustle never hustle. You cannot instill leadership and hustle in a person. Give me eight Marlon Byrds and a pitcher and I bet you’d beat half the teams in baseball.

    • Kenneth Wilbur

      Give me eight Marlon Byrds and a pitcher and I bet you’d beat half the teams in baseball.
      Be a great church league team, but this is MLB….there has to be a reason the Phils and Rangers gave up on Marlon, he had the same hustle for them…..I agree, I wish some of the others had his hustle, but if hustle alone would have done it, many of us would be in the HOF that never got out of the minors…..

    • Keithman

      Hi Mike Meyers!

      I loved your work in the SNL sketch “Sprockets”…in fact, that’s how I’m picturing you now. What I wanted to say is basically if you’re beating half the teams in baseball you’re also losing to half the teams in baseball. I’m pretty sure the Cardinals don’t think in those terms. Remember when you did that “Hello my name is Simon” sketch? Classic…you bum looker!


    • JL

      The guy is 34 yrs old. He can’t “right” anything. He sucks and that’s it. Hustling down the line as you ground into your 300 th DP is great….just do it on the Royals squad. He is done. Let’s get something for him if we can.

  13. Keithman

    HI Marlon!

    I have to tell you, Marlon, that I didn’t think I’d be hearing from you again this year. I mean your blog is posted so sparsely during the season that I just figured you’d be out pumping yourself up into a beefcakedness and we’d hear from you in February or March if you were still with the club. What I’m trying to say is this is a really nice surprise.

    Well Marlon, I think you really hit the nail on the head this time. In your own round about way you’re trying to say that Theo Epstein is going to come in and change the attitude of the entire organization…and you’re right. The Hendry era is over and we’re all the better for it.

    I like to look at building a ballclub like building a family. I mean, you have to rely on your elders. If they are all messed up then you’re already starting behind the 8-ball so to speak. If they are there for support (I’m talking financial support here, Marlon…KIDDING!) then you really have some good guidance and something to build on. Then you have to go out and find yourself a good woman. I was able to convince my wife Taela that I’d be a good a life partner which was a pretty amazing sell on my part. Then you gotta start having kids…and not bad kids either. You gotta have good kids. And if you can’t make good kids you gotta adopt like crazy. Pretty soon you’re surrounded with a great family and it’s just like having a good team except “winning” is defined as “someone else does the chores while I lay around and get beefy.”

    Marlon, my brother-in-law Andy and I are playing in the Utrip league and it’s pretty fun. You’re not going to believe this, but my the other team walked the guy in front of my brother-in-law Andy last week to face him representing the tying runin the top of the last inning. Do you know what he did? He drilled a game tying HR, that’s what. I came up next and completed my 6 at-bat hitting streak and scored the go ahead run. We won by a single run. Run run, have some fun!

    My sister-in-law Tara ran her first marathon a couple weeks back. She and Charity were having a conversation virtually the entire 26.2 miles. If I were running in it I would have had the conversation until the mile mark and then said “this is our last conversation because I’m going to die” then I would have collapsed and let the ambulance take over. Oh man…you should have seen bloody nipple guy. You would have thought he was lactating strawberry milk!

    Well Marlon, I’m on Twitter now @KeenKeith. You gotta check out my blog because it’s pretty much the funniest thing I know. It’s keenkeithDOTblogspotDOTcom. Today’s post compares ill-mannered church attendee to nose-picker guy. I’ll let you guess which one is me.


  14. Robert Hoffman

    Do you think we are close to putting together a pennant winning team? Do we need just a couple more players? Or should we wait another 3+ years?

  15. JAKEtheCUBSfan

    marlon your a great player i hope to see you on the northside for may years to come. hopefully a ring for you soon just stick with us. byrd is the word!

  16. Bill

    Marlon, I’m glad to see the blog continuing. When my daughter and I watch the games, I always point out your hustle and attitude—and how marvelously happy you look when you make a catch or get a hit. Yeah, of course it’s a big business, but if it ever stops being a fun game for the players and fans, then there’s no reason to watch. Stay positive, hope to see you back next year, and best wishes to you whatever comes next.

  17. Jeff C

    For me the Cubs problems have boiled down to money and signing sorry players like Soriano and Zombrano to long term big dollar contracts that they cant dump on anyone after they failed to produce. If they had players that had they same talent and effort as Mr. Byrd at every position they would do just fine. I live in a AAA town and get to see the Iowa Cubs when they come to town. I don’t really see the Cubs future success there. I think they should have dumped Hendry a few years ago…..as for Byrd,,,,I hope he is with the Cubs for a long time, In my onion he is a talented unselfish high quality individual they are lucky to have on the field, in the locker room, and in their city.

  18. brett

    I’m sure he reads the comments you trollers are leaving him. Byrd is a standup guy- actual Cubs fans know this. He knows what his numbers where and you better believe if anyone in that clubhouse is going to work hard to improve it’s Marlon Byrd. If Byrd put up Pujols numbers last year we would still have been out of the playoffs.

    • Kenneth Wilbur

      If Byrd put up Pujols numbers last year…
      don’t think anyone expects him to put up Pujols numbers, just the same numbers with RISP as went the bases are empty would be great….not to swing at the first pitch that is a pitcher’s pitch and try to pull it, which ends up in a double play…..

  19. Diane Peterson

    For those of you who complain about Marlon Byrd, we could get Milton Bradley back, and you could have less production and more attitude. Not everyone is great at both offense and defense, and even critics have to admit that Byrdie does an excellent job of fielding. He’s always working hard at improving himself, and that’s the kind of attitude we need on the team, especially with so many youngsters coming along. The young players need to see someone with a great work ethic, and they won’t find a better role model than Byrdie. He’s a good man, and a good player. Byrdie, you can nest in Wrigley Field for as long as you like.

    Just a side note to those of you who like to post complaints; I have a hard time taking you seriously when you can’t compose a decent sentence or spell simple words. Get your act together. Don’t complain about Marlon not being a superstar on the field when you can’t even do grade school stuff on the computer.

      • Kenneth Wilbur

        I would agree with all you say if the Cubs were a “Church League” team…. but this is MLB, the man gets 6.5 million a year to perform at a level much higher than what he performed this past season.
        (The young players need to see someone with a great work ethic, and they won’t find a better role model)
        The role model must also produce of the young players will not follow……

  20. Rob

    He wouldn’t have to hustle if he wasn’t so sloooow!
    He can’t steal a base because he’s 240 pounds.
    You would think a man of that size could hit at least 25 homers.
    His focus of driving the ball up the middle just ends up being dp’s
    when men are on base. Who made this guy the team spokesman anyway?
    Todd Hollandsworth?

  21. JL

    We actually need 3 new OFs. Maybe Tony C. Byrd, Sorry, Colvin all must go. Sure Sorry had 26 dingers. If I had a nickel for everytime him and Byrd and Colvin come up and we ONLY need a SAC fly at worst. They all strike out or hit in a DP. So we need at least 3 new OFs. And two SP and get rid of Marmol while you can get something for him. His 4.01 ERA for a CLOSER? pLLLLLLEASEEE. Ship him to the Angels

  22. Diane Peterson

    If we’re going to switch the topic from Byrdie to pitching, then let’s discuss having a manager who KNOWS something about pitching. How many times this past season has Q left a pitcher in the game when everyone could see he was struggling? How many times has he taken someone out who was still going strong, just to play the leftie-against-leftie percentage game? And how many times has he put Marmol in when a call from the bullpen should have told him that Carlos didn’t have his stuff, and to get Woody or someone else up? Yes, Marmol is erratic, but when he’s on, no one can hit him. We need a manager who can figure out what to do with his pitching staff, or who will at least listen to his pitching coach.

    To Rob: the players made Byrdie their spokesman because they respect him. Duh. If you want to bash your own players and your own team, become a Cardinals fan. They do plenty of that when they don’t win. You, too, JL. It’s not all about winning. I’ve been a Cubs fan for years, and the worst disappointment of my life came not in 1969, but with Sammy Sosa. Sure, we won a lot, and Sammy provided a lot of excitement, but at what cost? I’d rather finish next to last honestly and watch Byrdie’s spectacular catches and Marmol strike out the side than go through the Sosa thing again. I had a great time this season watching 2 men who love the game, one older, one younger, give it their all, these men being Marlon Byrd and Darwin Barney. Barney’s going to go places, and I sure hope they aren’t away from the Cubs. This kid knows something about baseball, and life in general, that you guys still need to learn. And don’t complain about HIS salary; he’s not even at half-a-mil yet.

  23. John

    I think one of the things that makes a good manager is to be able to put players into situations where they are able to be successful. That is be able to put the player in situation where his strengths help the team most. This being said…this year putting Marlon in the middle of the order and expecting him to be a run producer is not fair to him. This is not the player he is. Really did not thinnk it was right to put him or Castro in the #3 hole. Marlon should be batting in the 6th or 7th spot, or maybe #2 wher ehe can hit and run and be a table setter.

    I think he is valuable, but may be getting near the day where a corner outfield position is best. If Jackson is in center next year, I think he can be very vauable to the Cubs to mentor him and help him adjust to the big leagues.

  24. paul

    What I read here is that the Cubs need an attitude adjustment. Isn’t that what the manager gets paid to do? I see too much “ah shucks” and “we did our prep work and I’m proud of what they did accomplish”. I want to see a manager that is not afraid to pull a player aside for trying to advance from 2nd to 3rd on a ground ball hit to his right and getting thrown out. It’s not that hard…..way too many base running mistakes and defensive lapses for a major league team. The difference in talent level in the major leagues is not that much compared to a playoff team and a team below .500. The main difference is #1 – mental focus and mental toughness. This is something the Cubs sorely lack (Zambrano, Soriano, Marmol)…..great talent, no mental toughness. #2, the difference is leadership and a team that can get along and have chemistry and rally behind each other and quit fighting amongst themselves. I think we like Byrd because he is an adult; unlike many of the man children that are currently on the Cubs roster. Going to a game live drives me nuts. Soriano will literally be in the on deck circle flirting with girl and winking at the fans. He should be watching what the pitcher is throwing and trying to time his slider, since he can’t seem to wait back on one to begin with. It’s about playing for the team and not for your paycheck.

  25. danchicago

    I like Marlon as a person and appreciated him last year. He is what the Cubs don’t need anymore. Time to get away from the older every day players. Soriano, Byrd, Pena, Ramirez, Zambrano, and Soto all have to go. If we are to change the culture, get rid of the cultured. Time to rebuild with the kids and probably not compete at all next year. However, I think with Epstein and Ricketts writing the ship and Hoyer coming in, hopefully with Ryno at manager, this team will get turned around by 2013.

  26. danchicago

    Marmol is an excellent reliever, his issue this year is he lost a couple mph on his fastball, that should get fixed in the offseason. He wasn’t able to use his fastball to get outs like the year before. I see people above talking about Byrd and Barney, which I like that they are grown ups, but let be real the player that was most intriguing and is the future of this organization is Starlin Castro. He is going to be a beast in a couple years, wait til he learns to hit for power, he will be a cross between Ichiro, for his contact, and Hanley Ramirez.

  27. Diane Peterson

    Ah, Starlin Castro. Great at the plate, not so hot on the field. Shortstop should be a team’s strongest position, and with Castro there, it’s not. I love the kid, don’t get me wrong, but I think he’s in the wrong position. The only thing standing between him and 30-plus errors this season was Carlos Pena digging his throws out of the dirt, or grabbing them from the stratosphere. I’m a great supporter of playing the youngsters, when they’re ready, and Starlin’s just not ready to be a starting shortstop. He should, however, be a starting SOMETHING. How about switching him and Barney? Barney’s got the hands, the arm, and the range for short, and he’s been preparing for it all his life. He and Castro are a great pair on the field already, and I think they’ll mature into something superb, but let’s get them in the right positions. Also, Starlin’s not the only kid with a bright future on our team. Let’s focus on some of the others as well.

    I can remember more than a few years ago management bringing in a skinny kid who didn’t look like he could hit the ball out of the infield. But he had this special technique with the bat that didn’t require a lot of upper body strength, and wound up belting 512 homers in his career. Let’s get him to teach it to Tony Campana. I’m not saying it will turn Tony into a home run hitter, but with his speed, getting the ball into the outfield could result in a lot of extra base hits. And watching Tony run is so much FUN!!!

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that Castro is great, but he’s not the whole team. Give the others a chance to excel. Let’s not put ALL our effort into one player, and forget about developing the others.

    Finally, I still maintain that Byrd is a great influence on our younger players. Long live Byrds at Wrigley Field.

      • Diane Peterson

        We’re not talking the minors here. And I’m not talking 3rd base. I think we need to keep Castro and Barney together. They make a good team. I just think they’re backwards in the positions they play. Castro is trying to BECOME a shortstop. Barney IS a shortstop. I don’t see the logic in having 2 players learning a position. Put Barney in the position he has spent his entire life perfecting, and let Castro “improve his fielding” at 2nd. This looks to be a winning combination to me. I think there are too many people caught up in the potential superstardom of Castro who don’t want to consider moving him out of the most prestigious position on the field. I think he can be a superstar no matter where he plays. Ernie Banks was still a superstar after he moved to 1st.

  28. Jim

    There are fans out there looking at stats based on fantasy teams. Everyone thinks you need to hit the three run home run to win games. Pitching, defense and speed is where games are won. The object of the game is to score more runs than the other team. It is not a home run derby. Good defense helps pitchers, and speed on defense helps even more. It keeps you in games so you don’t have to score 8 runs to win a ball game. Speed on offense can create runs and put pressure on other defenses that cause mistakes. Whitey Herzog won with that combination. You have to be able to win when the wind blows in (which is more often than out). Let Theo and is team of baseball people figure out how to build a winning organization. If you want to count RBI’s and home runs then go play fantasy baseball and let the real baseball people enjoy the game!

    • Diane Peterson

      Well said. Let the players do their job, and the management to figure out how to help them do their best. I for one don’t need an Albert Pujols. I’ll take my runs any way I can get them. Tony Campana’s inside the park HR was one of the highlights of the season, as was Darwin Barney’s spectacular catch to end Dan Uggla’s hitting streak. We don’t need superstars to win, just good solid players, good management, and good coaching.

  29. Jim

    Sandberg played shortstop until he got to the Cubs. Dunston threw the ball into row 20 of the stands on a regular basis until he matured. With Castro there are plenty of options with him. He will be a star wherever he ends up playing. The irony in all this is that Sandberg might get the chance to decide which direction Castro goes. All we need is Dunston as a bench coach and we will have all the angles covered, lol.

  30. Cheryl Lynn Newsome

    Marlon- I’ll make it short & sweet: I think your one of THE best players in the game. After what you went thru last season, I could care less about your numbers. It’s the whole package that matters. Inside the club house, as well as out. YOU, my dear Cubbie, have it all. I Pray that you’ll be back in blue for the 12′ season. If the right mixture of people are needed for chemistry, then I see you as one of the professors. Love to you Marlon. Stay strong.

  31. Jereme Hubbard

    Marlon, I’d just like to say thank you for the way you handled your business in Texas. You may not have been on the field during the last two World Series runs, but you definitely had a part in it all. You were there when we were struggling to get to the top, and I personally hated that in the middle of the “Nap-o-li” chants and Claws and Antlers, we weren’t also giving the “Byrd” flaps when you did something great!

  32. Donny Geng

    I’m from MN so don’t know much about Cubs except their Great field. Read about 10 of your most recent blogs and found them extremely thoughtful, interesting, and well- written. Hope this means something from someone who has coached at the HS level for 40 yrs and happens to teach English. Would love to buy you dinner if ever you are in the Twin Cities.

  33. Joel

    The Cubs should get Fielder and trade to Florida/Milwaukee the following:

    Barney/Byrd/Z/Smardjia for Weeks and Hanley Ramerez.

    Milwaukee gets Barney and Smardjia for Weeks
    Florida gets Byrd and Z for Ramerez
    Cubs get Ramerez and Weeks.

    The Cubs IF improves greatly, so does their line up.

    The Cubs actually save some money and then go buy Buhrle and Wilson so they have a deep rotation mixed with RHP and LHP.

    With just this little addition, they are vastly improved and their culture changes greatly with winning players.

    • Kenneth Wilbur

      Yes, I have heard that these to GM’s both want to help make the Cubs a better team and will make just any trades to help out….

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