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Burns: Who is responsible for the D-backs?

When I was young I loved the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series of books. Just in case you don’t have the first clue what I’m talking about (which sucks for you because they were kinda cool) at the bottom of every page, you the reader, have a decision to make. If you choose A, you turn to a different page and pick up the story there. Choose B, and you turn to another page entirely and set another chain of events.

So I’ve come up with my own “Choose Your Own Adventure” when it comes to the astonishingly awful Arizona Diamondbacks.

If you believe it’s the players fault, turn to page 4. If you believe it is AJ Hinch’s fault, turn to page 5. If you believe it’s Josh Byrnes’ fault, turn to page 6.

Page 4 –

Ultimately it’s the players who are responsible, right? They’re the ones who couldn’t cook up squat for runs against anonymous pitchers like Carlos Monasterios, John Ely and Travis Schlichting. They’re the ones who have given up 10 home runs in 18 1/3 innings pitched (Gutierrez), or coughed up a 2-run lead in the 9th and went all “Karate Kid” on a cooler in the dugout (Qualls) or, best of all, introduced the phrase “balk-off” into our collective lingo (Vasquez).

Some days I think that the collapse of the bullpen has caused guys to check out. It is, after all, the most demoralizing way to lose a baseball game. If so it’s a lousy excuse for a group of men who should be better than this.

Page 5 –

I absolutely hate blaming things on a manager; I don’t believe managers truly impact the outcome of more than a handful of games throughout the course of a season. There’s only so much A.J. Hinch can do sitting in that dugout, and yet every single night, he’s the poor soul who has to explain this train wreck. That said the facts are the facts. They’re 31 games under .500 since he took the job over a year ago. For whatever reason, the team simply has not responded to him.

He’s a intelligent man; thoughtful, detailed and knows the game. But…..does he have the presence to be a big league manager? It’s one of my favorite words (presence) and, with all due respect, I don’t know if he’s got it or not.

Page 6 –

Full disclosure, I have fully endorsed just about every move Josh Byrnes has made. I’ll even fess up to liking the Jose Valverde/Chad Qualls deal for goodness sakes. But there are a couple of franchise-altering exceptions: The extension for beer-league-softball-star Eric Byrnes (at the time I called it $30M worth of PR – and that’s a quote) and picking up Brandon Webb’s 8.5M option (I thought it was far, far riskier than people were giving it credit for). Thanks to those two decisions the D-backs are paying nearly $20 million to a couple of guys who might not play an inning this year.

Here’s the problem: As much as I liked most of the decisions Byrnes has made, the sum of all those moves is a team that is 46 games under .500 since their 20-8 start in 2008. That then presents the “big picture” problem. If I hire an architect to build me a house but the one he builds is falling down around my feet, am I going to hire him to build my next one? I think it’s a fair point. If you think the 2010 D-backs need to be blown up and whole sale changes to the roster need to be made, is Josh Byrnes the one who should be making them? It’s the question that must be answered.

Times are tough. A ten-game losing streak. The first winless nine-game road trip in team history. Four straight walk off losses. 31 straight innings without scoring a run. And with Arizona’s first ever All-Star game just more than a year away, the D-backs have to get their house in order before company comes to visit.

How did it come to this?