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!