I have just finished reading Steve Gilbert’s latest edition of MAILBAG.
It is full of ideas for trading Eric Byrnes. How quickly you forget
what he did for you in 2006 and 2007. Yes, it is unfortunate he was out
for most of 2008 with an injury, but even before then a lot of you
thought he was not worth the money.
You want to run out of town one of the most exciting players
your franchise has ever had. A team leader who helped you get to the
playoffs in 07, and without whom, your vaunted youth movement did not
do so well. (Hello, Chris Young!) It is clear to me that the
Diamondbacks are all about saving money rather than putting the real
goods on the field. How reflective of the rest of this screwed up
society in which people are urged to get those promotions and raises
then are thrown away as too expensive because they took the rewards
they were offered!
If you want to say that baseball is a “what have you done
for me lately” game and all Byrnes has done lately is rehab, let me
turn the tables on you. What Mark Reynolds has done most recently is
set a major league record in strike outs while leading the majors in
errors (11 more than the second place guy). Yet I know of only one
other person besides me who would send Reynolds beck to the minors for
a year and let Tracy play third.
Conor Jackson, an excellent hitter, had a position at first
base. BoMel’s handing him left field because of the way he played and
GM Byrnes saying that Eric shouldn’t expect to get playing time because
of his incumbency is a bunch of BULL. Jackson is at best an adequate
left fielder. He’s no Byrnes. Byrnesie is not the most elegant fielder
but he gets to stuff the slower Jackson and the unsure Young don’t get
And quit the suggestions that the D’Backs should offer Adam
Dunn a deal. Dunn is a born DH who should be in the American League.
But most importantly, there is little plate discipline on
the D’Backs. I’ve already laid out the strikeout totals in other
posts. The batting averages are awful. I cannot get excited about guys
who hit homers but cannot break .250. A healthy Eric Byrnes, and I’m
expecting a healthy Eric Byrnes in ’09, can hit at least .280-and he
knows I think he’s capable of more than that-while striking out less
than 100 times. And I would rather have a team full of guys like that
than a bunch of .230-.240 hitters that are striking out, the most
useless thing you can do, when they aren’t hitting it over the fence.
As you saw last year, that kind of lineup doesn’t make the playoffs.
If this team is to have any chance, it needs to have Byrnes
AND Jackson on the field simultaneously. Together with Steven Drew, who
hit .291 last year, they could form the nucleus of the lineup.
Stop being bedazzled by homer totals and demoralized by
contract numbers. Geez, you’d think Byrnesie was pulling down A-Rod
money the way you people act! And the game is still baseball, not
accounting. Maybe you all shouldn’t have parked the Brinks truck in
Chris Young’s driveway when he had barely a year in the majors under
his belt. Let a guy get some more experience and show what he’s capable
of before you part with the big bucks.
Melvin sounded a little more certain when it came to where
Conor Jackson would be playing. Jackson, who played first base in 2006,
2007 and the first part of 2008 was moved to left field when a
hamstring injury sidelined Eric Byrnes.
Jackson played well out there and will go into Spring
Training as the starting left fielder with Eric Byrnes getting a chance
to play all three outfield positions and Chad Tracy at first against
right-handers. Jackson could move to first against left-handed pitching
with Byrnes playing left.
So now Eric Byrnes becomes the 4th outfielder! Back to
square 1 April of ’06. This is bad news. Shove all that talk about
wanting competition when there is no talk of Tracy competing for the
third base job against Mark Reynolds, WHO LED THE MAJORS IN ERRORS AND
STRIKEOUTS LAST YEAR!!!! Why is his job secure while Byrnesie has to
fight for time?
I’ll tell you why: Byrnesie will go into spring training
with 11 million due him this year and next, and the Diamondbacks are so
poor that they can’t afford RJ even though he is willing to take a 50%
paycut. They couldn’t afford Orlando Hudson. (And Mark Lorretta signed
with the Dodgers). And so we hear BoMel singing of the virtues of
youth. Reynolds is one of the young guys who figures to get better.
Well, if you want to keep Tracy, then let Reynolds get better in Triple A. He missed that step and it shows.
BoMel also told Steve Gilbert that: “Based on what [Jackson]
did last year, he certainly deserves a chance to be the everyday left
fielder, and as we’re sitting here, he is the left fielder.” In the
words of John McEnroe, “You cannot be serious!” Jackson is at best an
adequate left fielder. He gets to the balls you expect hm to get to. He
made a few good plays. But he doesn’t have Byrnes’ speed or daring.
Without Byrnes, the outfield will be leaderless. Chris Young
is wonderful at going back to the wall for balls, but he doesn’t know
how to take charge. This is evident when he has to come in for those
Texas leaguers where the centerfielder, shortstop, second baseman, and
possibly the left fielder converge. (I saw one of these plays in SF in
September. The ball dropped in front of Young. He never goes for it the
way Byrnesie does!)
Will somebody tell me why Eric Byrnes has been the odd man
out, fighting for playing time virtually his whole career? He’s never
led the majors in errors for an outfielder-I recognize infielders, who
get more chances lead the league in errors. In fact, in 2007, Bill
James recognized him as the best left fielder in the majors, according
to his various statistics.
And Byrnesie’s highest total for strike outs was 111 in
2004, nowhere near the MAJOR LEAGUE STRIKE OUT RECORD SET BY MARK
REYNOLDS LAST YEAR. He had precisely 111 before the All-Star break.
I am after Reynolds because I don’t see him having to
compete for time even after setting two of the worst major league
records you can set, while Byrnesie goes into camp having lost his
I’ll tell you what, Diamondbacks. If you love Reynolds so
much, tell him he’s going to play second base next year. Tell him now
so he can start getting ready. The shorter throw to first might save
him some errors. And Reynolds at second will save you the money of
signing another second baseman. Tracy can play third; Jackson can play
first; and Byrnesie can go back to everyday left fielder.
Because without Hudson, and with Byrnesie as only a fourth
outfielder, the team lacks field generals. IF Tony Clark signs again,
he can fill that clubhouse leader role that he’s so good at. But on the
field, day in and day out, you need somebody to lead. And Byrnesie can
fill that role well.
But you know I figured that you front office people have
pretty much written off this year anyway, because you don’t have the
money to compete with the Dodgers. CC Sabathia is now rumored to want
to go to LA. And they can make him an offer competitive with what the
Yankees have put on the table for him. And the possibility of them
signing Manny Ramirez is still out there. That deal seems to hinge more
on years than on money. You just lost Mark Lorretta to them. So you
don’t really need a field general for a team that will finish at best
third and maybe even fourth next year. But you’d love to free up the
money you really didn’t want to give Byrnesie anyway but gave him
because you had to give the fans something after parting sloppily with
Yeah, I know, Byrnesie’s legs were declared healed last
month, but the gods forbid he pops that hammy again. Then what? Then
you go with Jackon in left, Tracy at first and Reynolds at third. But
you are thinking that even if Byrnesie’s legs are completely healed and
he is able to resume his baserunning ways, the Snakes, true to their
namesake, don’t run, even when they have native speed. Chris Young, who
can steal bases standing up, was a disappointing 14/19 last year, after
stealing 27 in 33 attempts in ’07, when Byrnesie stole 50 of 57 bases.
Young is a follower. Byrnesie’s leadership made Young better. The two
of them were in a race for team homer leadership in ’07 that Young won
32 to 26. ’08 No Byrnesie and only 22 homers from Young.
Yeah, Front Office, I know that in your perfect scenario,
you would have had the dough to make Adam Dunn an offer and Byrnesie
would have ridden the pine till he begged to waive his no-trade clause
for the likes of Pittsburgh.
That didn’t work out, but you are still trying to throw
Byrnesie under the bus. Just don’t do it under the guise of competition
when the major league leader in strike outs and errors is as snug as a
bug in a rug come spring.
I’ve got to go now. More ranting later!
The Arizona Diamondbacks, who were batting below .200 as a
team during the last six games-they won 2 and lost 4-went back to the
formula that led to their early success in beating Atlanta 11-1. They scored early and often, handing Doug Davis a 5-run lead
before he threw the first pitch in his comeback from thyroid cancer
surgery. Davis then cruised to victory, giving up only 1 run in a 7
inning, 5-hit, 89-pitch effort. (Max Scherzer pitched the 8th and Doug
Slaten the 9th).
The five-run barrage in the first inning started with a solo
homer by Stephen Drew, batting second. They got another homer later in
the inning-a two-run shot by Eric Byrnes, batting seventh, for the
100th of his career. If he managed not to hurt himself today, let’s
hope that this gets Byrnesie going; sometimes hitters slow up as they
approach a milestone. Next time up, he singled and eventually scored
from third on a single by Chris Young. So Byrnesie had two hits, two
RBI and he also scored two runs.
Homers were the name of this game for the D’Backs. In
addition to Drew and Byrnes, Conor Jackson, Chris Young, and Mark
Reynolds went yard. Chris Snyder had a 2-run double.
Welcome back, DD!
It’s been a long time coming. And it barely made it, hitting
the top of the wall in left field and bouncing in the good direction.
But there it was in the fifth inning, Eric Byrnes’ first grand slam.
And it came off of Tom Glavine, of all people. Only the second grand
slam the future Hall of Famer has given up in his long and illustrious
career. It changed the score from 3-2 Braves to 6-3 Diamondbacks, and
the Snakes never looked back. The final score was 9-3, giving Micah
Owings his 6th W of the year.
True Elation? More than that really. But if I call it
something else, it will ruin my numbering system. More than redemption
for the pop-up with the bases loaded in his previous at-bat and the 5
LOB on the day. Two homers in 3 days! Maybe he is coming out of his
slump. Or maybe there is something extra he reaches back for every time
people start asking again if he should be on the DL.
Eric Byrnes has been on a very steep roller coaster ride
this year. And he’s still got a long way to go to get the batting
average back into respectable territory. It will be interesting to see
what happens now with the bases loaded. He finally cleared them. Now he
should approach a sacks-full situation in a different way. It has often
looked like he was trying to be too careful, trying not to make an out,
instead of trying to get a hit. Or he was being desperate, swinging at
anything, like the junk off the plate that Glavine threw him the time
before. This time Glavine threw it in Byrnesie’s wheelhouse and
Byrnesie sent it out. And I hope that any and all anxiety and
self-doubt he’s had with the bases loaded in the past went with it. Of
course, not every time up with the bases loaded will have this glorious
result. But now, Byrnesie knows he can do it because he HAS done it.
And I look forward to him doing it again.
Four beautiful RBI. The game-winner. (And let’s not forget
two walks after the grand slam, one of which resulted in his second run
scored. He needs better plate discipline to get out of the slump, and
walks are indicative of better discipline).
Beyond True Elation. A new level of achievement for Eric Byrnes.
Many knowledgeable baseball people, including Eric Byrnes,
consider the 2001 World Series one of the best, if not THE best World
Series ever. Seven games between the storied New York Yankees, winners
of the previous three World Series, and 26 championships overall,
versus the upstart Arizona Diamondbacks, in existence for only four
years and playing in their first World Series. And Game 7 was an epic
pitchers’ duel that went down to the wire.
On April 29th, A&E Home Video (aetv.com) and MLB
Productions make a DVD set of this series available. Buy it. Unless you
win the one I have available as a giveaway on this blog. Details about
that further down.
The DVD player I have attached to my TV is not working for
some reason. So I was pleased to find that the DVDs will play on a PC
with DVD playing software. I’m running Windows XP Home Edition and NTI
DVD software on a 2 GB system with 512 MB Ram of which only 448 MB is
working properly; but the DVD’s ran perfectly despite the RAM problem.
The mouse substitutes for TV remote control and is much easier to use.
The pictures, basically the Fox broadcast of each game, are
crisp and clear. The games are edited to bring you the best shots…and
no commercial breaks! You just go from one inning to the next and
through the pitching changes with all baseball. The only non-baseball
information is in the form of the graphics that were part of the game
broadcast that day. For example, Game 7 updated the viewers on the Emmy
Awards that were presented that night. That’s a nice historical touch.
Bonus features include highlights of the NLDS and NLCS,
trophy presentations, and several on-field post-Game 7 interviews with
the winners. Each of the seven games comes on its own DVD, in its own
jewel case with a liner that provides the box score, an
inning-by-inning summary and tidbits that will satisfy any trivia buff.
The set comes in a box that easy to store; It’s 18 hours and 49 minutes
of material for only $69. Even though the set emphasizes the Arizona
Diamondbacks, it’s a great addition to the libraries of Yankees fans
and anyone else who enjoys great baseball.
For those of you who are interested in the one I’m giving
away, the way to get it is to send me an Eric Byrnes story from
anywhere starting with his college days to the present. Keep it
family-friendly as I want to post the entries here. What was it like to
meet Byrnesie? Did you go to school with him, see him as a minor
leaguer, banter with him in the stands in the majors, or meet him in
the supermarket? Did he visit your school, hospital or Little League?
My stats reports say that a lot of people visit, but only a
few people ever
comment. My usual commentators, the guys who run the AZSportshub
& MLB.com websites, members of Byrnesie’s family and current social circle,
professional journalists who have interviewed Byrnes, and anyone who
has ever been featured on The Eric Byrnes Show are not eligible to win
the DVD set but are welcome to contribute a story to enrich the
visiting experience for my readers.
I’m looking for Byrnes fans who have never commented here
before. I’m hoping a chance at this wonderful DVD set will entice some
of you into joining the discussions. Don’t be shy. You don’t have to be
a literary genius to enter, but the winner will be the story I find
most interesting, so don’t just say you were there when Byrnesie did
Send your stories to byrnesblogger1 [at] azsportshub.com by May 15th. The decision of the judge (me) is final.
I downloaded the Tony Gwynn documentary from MLB.com last night. Ihave yet to watch it, but I have made an important discovery about MLB
downloads: You are not downloading a file to keep and play as much as
you want, you are only renting the file for a limited number of
viewings, or in my case, attempts to view.
I am a novice at using Windows Media Player. And my experience with
it last night and this morning have made me long for the days when you
just opened a file in Real Player and it played. Now there are
libraries, and playlists, and all sorts of complications.
One such complication is Digital Rights Management (DRM). When I
first tried to play the file, my computer went out and searched for a
license. I was not surprised by this. I assumed that somebody somewhere
would want assurance that I had a legal copy of the documentary. But I
was surprised that the computer retrieved a new license every time I
tried to get the documentary to play. This morning, after I tried,
unsuccessfully, to turn the documentary on twice, I got a message
saying that I had maxed out on the number of licenses for this download
and I should call customer support or email them.
So you basically get 5 or 6 opportunities to view a download.
(Opportunities only, the license count is triggered before the
documentary actually plays so if it fails to play, you are out of luck).
F**K DRM. When I buy something, I expect to be able to use it
whenever and how many times ever, I want. And F**K MLB for not making
it clear that you are only renting a limited number of licenses.
Frankly, it isn’t worth my time to call or email customer support
and I am certainly not going to pay any more money; I have received no
value for the money I have already paid. Now I didn’t pay a whole lot
($3.99) but that shouldn’t limit the number of times I can watch what I
paid for. I figured that the low price was a function of both the fact
that the documentary was a download, and therefore much cheaper to
produce than a DVD, and the fact that MLB.com boasts huge traffic
stats, meaning that MLB could go for volume sales. But no, they went
further, using DRM to turn downloads into de facto rentals.
I will never buy another download from MLB and I hope that this post
spreads far and wide and other people decide to boycott also. The
fascist DRM regime has got to end! The only way it will end is if
enough consumers reject it so that rights-holders realize that there is
more money to be made from selling a product than from withholding it.
The purpose of copyright was to allow creators a chance to control
distribution of their work. But nowadays, a creator typically makes
things on a “work for hire” basis for a large corporation, like MLB, or
any of the Hollywood studios the Writers Guild is currently striking,
and the big corporation reaps the benefits while most creators get next
to nothing. With Digital Rights Management, the big corporations have
found a way to give the consumer next to nothing also.
Be sure to listen to the podcast, which is a slightly longer version of the story that I filed for KPFA.
Needless to say, this is not my last word on the subject.
Hear my interview with MLB.com’s Diamondbacks beat writer Steve Gilbert on the possibility of the Snakes getting Dan Haren, Tony Clark re-signing, Micah Owings playing first and more at