Updated Apr 20, 2009 - 10:44 am
Burns: Defending Eric Byrnes (well...kinda)
The D-backs had just lost to the San Francisco Giants 2-0, completing a weekend series in which Arizona scored 2 runs, compiled 11 hits and amassed 31 strikeouts against the Giants. And after this nightmare series is over, what does the announcer implore me to do?
Stay tuned. 'The Eric Byrnes Show' is next.
Really? Think I'd rather go chew tin foil.
Once the waves of absurdity passed - and did they come in waves - a thought popped into my head:
It's not all Byrnes' fault.
If you want to blame Eric Byrnes for being a marginal player, please, by all means. The line forms here, take a number. We'll hold a lottery system to see who goes first.
If you want to rag on him for the pop ups (remember Major League? Can Bob Melvin make him do push-ups at home plate every time he pops it up?), the utterly unnecessary somersaults in the outfield (hey mom-look at me) or the TV show (hey mom-look at me part 2), go right on ahead.
But if you're upset that Eric Byrnes is here, that he is an Arizona Diamondback, don't blame him.
Blame yourself. And Jeff Moorad.
You - the casual baseball fan - you're the one back in 2007 who swore that you'd never go to a game again if the D-backs didn't resign him. You felt jilted about Luis Gonzalez and decided that if the team was going to let the "face" of the team just walk away, again, then the next time some one went walkin' it would be you. Besides he got off to a great start, put up big numbers. Believe me, I heard from hundreds of you back in 2007.
Admit it...you thought the somersaults were cool, didn't you casual-baseball-fan?
And the organization heard you. Specifically, Moorad heard you. And one day, back in 2007, he called the "face" into his office and made him an offer. Now Moorad is in San Diego. And Byrnes is hitting .115.
(One Diamondback official - who shall remain nameless - had this look on his face the day the deal was announced. The kind of look a dad might have when his ex-wife buys their daughter a pony for her birthday. A look that said, "not my idea, I knew he was a career .261 hitter")
It takes courage to try to sell the unpopular. The organization stood and took their lumps the year prior when - knowing they'd catch hell - they told Gonzalez he wasn't coming back.
Unfortunately, they lost their moxie with Byrnsie. And they have been paying for it ever since.
In the 53 games after the Moorad meeting in 2007, Byrnes hit .239 with a miserable OPS of .683. And that's been the high point. And spare me this nonsense about his injuries. His production stunk before the injury and stinks now that he's healthy again. He's given you nothing but a TV show since the contract.
Meanwhile, Carlos Quentin is putting up MVP numbers (is he playing this well because he's getting better coaching or feeling less pressure? Great question).
Shoot, Scott Hairston is putting up better numbers than Byrnes. At a fraction of the cost.
So blame Byrnes all you want. Big contract+poor production=easy fan target. But you, and the front office, had every chance to tell him goodbye.