Breakfast Anyone?

Arizona Diamondbacks General Manager Josh Byrnes is getting a reputation for someone you want to avoid when it comes to dining invitations. It seems as though nothing good ever happens when you go out to eat with him.

With the 2006 season winding down the Arizona Diamondbacks had a decision to make. Left fielder and fan favorite Luis Gonzalez had a club option for the 2007 season and the rumor mills were all reporting that the Diamondbacks had no intention of picking up the option.

Gonzalez agreed to have breakfast with Byrnes along with then General Partner Jeff Moorad. Even before the food arrived the conversation began with Byrnes telling Gonzalez that the team would decline his option. Gonzalez expressed a desire to return to the team and offered to re-sign at a lower amount.

Byrnes went on to explain that regardless of the price the team was not interested in bringing him back. He did not fit in with their future plans no matter what the price. This left a bitter taste in Gonzalez’s mouth and he departed Arizona playing two more seasons for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Florida Marlins before officially retiring this season.

Replacing Gonzalez in the outfield was Eric Byrnes who had shown glimpses of greatness while playing centerfield that season. The plan was to move Eric Byrnes to left field and allow rookie Chris Young to play center field.

The 2007 season was magical with the Diamondbacks overachieving and winning the National League Western Division. Byrnes had a great season and the fans had anointed him as the new fan favorite. Everywhere you turned the fans and the media were begging for the Diamondbacks to sign Eric Byrnes to a long-term contract.

With 2007 coming to a close the Diamondbacks signed Eric Byrnes to a three-year contract. This of course had a ripple effect that sent promising outfielder Carlos Quentin to the Chicago White Sox, a trade that will haunt the Diamondbacks for years to come.

During the 2008 season Eric Byrnes suffered injuries that limited his playing time. He rededicated himself and arrived at Spring Training 2009 with an attitude that he would once again put up great numbers. For the second year in a row injuries derailed his season.

During the final week of the season Byrnes announced he would play winter ball to get back into playing shape and planned to be ready to be the starting left fielder for the 2010 Arizona Diamondbacks.

Last week General Manager Josh Byrnes invited Eric Byrnes to dine with him. During that meeting Josh laid out for Eric what the teams plans were and that barring any unforeseen circumstances Eric just didn’t seem to fit in those plans.

For the second time in three years a starting left fielder and fan favorite was invited to a meal only to find out that the team didn’t want them. Forget Jenny Craig, Josh Byrnes is the new diet king. With just a single meal he can make you lose your appetite.

Diamondbacks fans had to cringe when it was reported that Josh Byrnes had asked starting pitcher Brandon Webb to a lunch meeting. With the Diamondbacks holding a club option on the injured pitcher, the last thing Webb needed was to eat with Byrnes.

This meeting at least on the surface sounds reassuring. Byrnes expressed that the team would most likely pick up the option but Byrnes wanted to discuss altering the contract and spreading the money over two seasons with a year added.

I’m sure Webb’s stomach turned a little. His value as a pitcher was never lower than it is right now. Rather than jump on the deal, he declined setting 2010 up as possibly his last year as an Arizona Diamondbacks.

If the team finds itself in a similar situation as they were this year at the trade deadline it is a realistic possibility that Webb would be dealt for prospects. If that happens we can point back to the meal with Josh Byrnes as yet another example of why it is best not to accept a meal invitation with the general manager.


4 Comments

  1. I’m so tired of this whole idea that the D-backs are going to regret the Carlos Quentin trade for YEARS. Yes, he had an MVP caliber year last year hitting wise. However, this year, he went back to his injured ways and was below replacement level as a player. The D-backs got Chris Carter out of the deal, who was used in the deal that sent Dan Haren over. Also, Chris Carter is now rated the third best prospect in all of baseball.

    I hope things work out for Carlos Quentin, as I enjoyed seeing his development through the minor league ranks, but let me ask you, were you one of the fans that was screaming for the D-backs to sign Byrnes long-term or were you one of the few, such as I, that shook their heads in disbelief as Jeff Moorad (NOT Josh Byrnes) gave that ridiculous contract to Mr Pop-Up?

    • I am the fan that lamented signing Eric Byrnes because I believed that the Diamondbacks would spend that $30 million on either Byrnes or Orlando Hudson and I wanted Hudson signed to a three-year deal. I wanted the outfield to be Quentin, Young, and Upton until Carlos Gonzalez was ready for the major leagues at which point I was hoping to see another Gonzalez patrolling left field. I still get to see that, just when the Rockies come to town.

      I do believe the Diamondbacks will regret letting Carlos Quentin go if they don’t already. He had a higher upside than Eric Byrnes. I completely understand the Chris Carter deal and that it was imperative to include that to get Dan Haren, I just think Josh Byrnes tends to become impatient with the younger players. Whether that is pressure he is feeling from the ownership group or just his youth it is getting to be a disturbing trend.

      I think you give Jeff Moorad too much credit in the Eric Byrnes deal. My gut feel it was more Ken Kendrick than Jeff Moorad based on conversations and comments I have heard and read.

  2. shibum78

    I think coming off of the flukey 90 win season, Byrnes and the ownership group felt pressure to improve immediately instead of building a team up. I think that’s why you saw the trade for Haren and the signing of Byrnes. I’ve always felt that 2007 was the worst thing that could have happened to the D-backs for their long-term success because of the unrealistic expectations that came with it from fans. The D-backs had a negative run differential, yet finished with the best record in the NL. That was due mostly to luck. I wonder if the D-backs would still have made that trade for Haren or if they would have been content with trying to continue to build with Anderson and Gonzalez with the NL West crown in 2007…

    • I definitely agree that the expectations shot up through the roof after 2007. Not just from the fans but I believe ownership and to a certain extent within the baseball operations group that the team was closer than it really was to being a consistent winner.

      While it’s hard to argue with the success the Diamondbacks have had in the player development areas I still feel like the team is lacking a cohesive approach for their position players. Nearly all of the players coming through the system that have made an impact at the major league level have lacked plate discipline especially with two strikes. Whether this is a result of the Diamondbacks scouting and ultimately drafting players with this flaw or as a result of how they are taught to approach an at-bat; I don’t see this team as ever having a high on-base percentage.

      I think part of the problem with the 2007 run differential anomaly is the fact that when the team lost, they lost big. These blow outs should have been an indication that the defense at times was questionable. By not addressing this flaw the problem has gotten worse in 2008 and 2009. I think the team is capable of playing good defense but the core of this roster seems to not be able to maintain a high level of concentration through a game or series. It is these mental lapses that led to many of the errors we’ve seen the past two years.

      Looking back at the deals Josh Byrnes made after 2007 his staff felt the blowouts were a result of not having enough starting pitching but in reality I believe it is a defense problem. Hence he went after Haren instead of perhaps focusing on other areas.

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