Results tagged ‘ Eric Byrnes 06.07 ’
Eric Byrnes is not starting today, meaning he’s been benched two of the three games of the three-game series against the Rockies that ends today. I am not surprised. The Rockies are starting BK Kim; the last time that happened, neither Eric Byrnes nor Jeff DaVanon had a record against Kim. Manager Bob Melvin chose DaVanon to start and he delivered a homer. He gets the start against Kim again today, with Shawn Green in right and Luis Gonzalez in left.
Byrnes played last night and had a bad night at the plate, going 0-4 with 1 K (his first after a 58-plate appearance streak of 0 K’s) and he left 4 on base, two in scoring position. His batting average has dropped to .288, two points below DaVanon.
UPDATE: All three outfielders had good days at the plate in today’s 9-7 LOSS to the Rockies. In fact, DaVanon started the AZ offense with a leadoff homer. He’s now batting .293. (We won’t make much of his getting picked off first in the 8th ahead of Gonzo’s triple. Who would have figured Jorge Julio to give up 4 runs in the top of the 9th?) And Carlos Quentin came off the bench and doubled.
Byrnes still needs 1 hit of any type to exceed A,A’05s Total Bases, and he is very near to exceeding other A,A’05 categories: he needs 2 Rs, 2 3Bs, 4 RBI, 6 Hs of any type and 8 BBs to exceed all those categories. I am still hoping he can exceed all except BBs and maybe 3Bs by the end of the month, leaving him August and September to just build anew. But he can’t do that on the bench.
Here are the problems: The D’Backs have too many outfielders, especially now that Carlos Quentin has been brought up. They certainly have too many for both Byrnes and DaVanon to have the kind of great years they could have if they could each get 500+ ABs. And the Diamondbacks have more outfield prospects in the minors.
The D’Backs have a weak bench, which is part of why they called up Quentin. Their pinch-hitting has been terrible. Last night, the broadcasters said that DaVanon does his damage when he’s in the lineup. (They said that he was only 2-20 as a pinch-hitter and that his style of wanting to work deep in the count is at odds with a pinch-hitter’s need to hack away. I don’t think it’s bad for a pinch-hitter to work the count and drawing a walk has to alter the opposition’s game plan a bit). DaVanon then got a pinch-hit, which made him 3-21. That’s .143. Byrnesie is not much of a pinch hitter either. It’s too hot here for me to get into my binder of Eric Byrnes Pitch Count Reports to figure it out, but take my word for it, he’s not a fearsome pinch hitter. To make Quentin a pinch hitter is to waste a guy who has been tearing up the PCL. They are already wasting former PCL MVP Andy Green in a similar role.
They also need pitching help. We never know which Juan Cruz or which Claudio Vargas is going to show up. And the inconsistencies of Enrique Gonzalez are to be expected of rookie pitchers.
The D’Backs need to trade some of their excess outfield to strenthen their bench and their rotation. A good pinch-hitter who can also play first base and a starter/long reliever to bolster the backend of the rotation, at least.
Tom Singer of Trade Deadline Reality Check is again raising the possibility that Shawn Green might be traded. We’ve been hearing this for a while now. A trade to the Yankees would be a great fit. Green can play right field in Gary Sheffield’s absence and when Gary comes back, Green can move to first base. We all know the Yanks are not pleased with Giambi’s defense. Giambi can move to DH.
But, as has been pointed out by several people, Greenie has a no-trade clause that limits trades to three West Coast teams. Singer thinks Green might be willing to go to New York to be in the same city as his close friend Carlos Delgado. If we were talking about a trade to the Mets, that might make sense. But the Mets and the Yankees are usually not in town at the same time, so I doubt the two friends would have much time to get together during the season.
Still, a deal to the Yanks would not be a bad idea, at least for Green and the Yankees. Green would be going to a contender that can afford him and could use him in the outfield or first base. The Yankees need a left-handed power hitter. Green is a lefty and although his best homer-hitting days are behind him, he’s still batting over .300. His quiet demeanor would fit in nicely with the "business-like" atmosphere of the Yankee team. (The team in the dugout; I don’t know about the F.O.). In watching the games recently, I have seen signs in the stands at Chase urging the Diamondbacks to keep left-fielder Luis Gonzalez, who I thought would have made a great replacement for the Yankees injured left-handed left-fielder Hideki Matsui. I can’t say that I have been shown any signs in the stands urging the retention of Green. Whom can the Yankees send to Arizona for Green, especially whom can they send to help the team THIS SEASON?
The San Francisco Giants have acquired Shea Hillenbrand, and Bonds, who has not yet been indicted, has said he wants to play in 2007, preferably in San Francisco. So much for DTLFL’s suggestion that Eric Byrnes would make a great fit in Giants orange and black, at least as far as this year’s trade deadline goes. Actually, as far as outfielders go, it has been Green and DaVanon, especially Green, who have been the subjects of trade rumors. No one, except Bay Area fans who would like to see Byrnesie come home, have said word one about getting rid of him by the end of July, although Jim McLennan of AZ Snakepit has his concerns.
DTLFL would still be in favor of trading Byrnes if it could be to a playoff contender that needs a right-handed hitting every day (and we MEAN every day) CF with pop in his bat.
Trades are like the rest of baseball: you never know. Maybe such a Byrnes trade is being arranged sub rosa while everyone is talking about Shawn Green. On the other hand, there is the comment made by Romalena on July 9, in response to my July 8 comment on The Tao of Steve. I had suggested then that Byrnes be traded to the Giants. Romalena said: "Dah!! No way, Byrnes is too valueable, he adds spunk, energy, tippytoes, dirt, and pure baseball outstanding playing."
You’ve got a point, Romalena, plus Byrnesie is far cheaper than Gonzo or Greenie. But while spunk and energy can be displayed in the clubhouse and in the dugout, there’s not much tippytoes, dirt (and grass stains), and pure baseball outstanding playing happening on the bench.
Still waiting for those category busters in sweltering Oakland, CA
In a move that dashes the hopes of those who want to see Eric Byrnes come home, the San Francisco Giants have acquired Shea Hillenbrand from the Toronto Blue Jays. They also acquired righty reliever Vinnie Chulk in return for righty reliever Jeremy Accardo.
The Giants wanted a right-handed hitter with pop in his bat. A stats comparison between Hillenbrand and Byrnes show that they are very similar:
AB 296 302
BA .301 .291
SLG .480 .517
XBH/H 28/89 (.315) 40/88 (.455)
OBP .342 .350
K/BB 40/14 (2.86) 49/25 (1.96)
HR 12 13
2B 15 25
3B 1 2
R 40 48
RBI 39 37
In fact, in terms of power hitting, the SLG, XHB/H and 2B stats significantly favor Byrnes. But Hillenbrand was DFA’d by Toronto. There is no official indication yet that the Diamondbacks want to trade Byrnes. But the D’Backs have a lot of outfield prospects: Scott Hairston, whom they brought up in June only to see him hurt his shoulder his first day in the lineup–he’s rehabbing now–Carlos Quentin, whose first MLB hit was a 2-run homer, Chris Young, the Triple A prospect who was supposedly just one season away from the majors–the D’backs got Byrnes to patrol CF until Young was ready–and teen phenom Justin Upton, who has been converted from SS to CF. Byrnes is already the "regular" doing the most timesharing with his backup.
There doesn’t appear to be any long-range plans in Phoenix for Byrnes. If the youngsters are ready for the majors in 2007, and Quentin was deemed ready for the majors in 2006, but the Big Club had no place for him, one could see an Arizona outfield of Hairston in left (Luis Gonzalez’ $10M option not being picked up), Young in center (as planned when Byrnes was signed), and Quentin in right (possibly in 2006 if the Yankees or the Angels make a deal for Shawn Green). That would leave Byrnes on the bench with Jeff DaVanon. We know that manager Bob Melvin likes the "profile" of the switch-hitting DaVanon and that pinch-hitting is not a long suit for Byrnes.
The Diamondbacks hold the rights to Byrnes for 2007, but Byrnesie deserves a better fate than to languish on the bench of a team that might want him around as a defensive replacement and clubhouse cheerleader. He’d be a good fit for the Giants, who need to get younger in the outfield. But:
a) Right now the Giants and the D’Backs are both in the race for the NL West division title. The likelihood is slim that two teams fighting for the same divisional crown would make a mutually beneficial trade. Meanwhile, Hillenbrand was DFA’d by a team more than happy to send him out of their league.
b) The Giants wanted a first baseman. Hillenbrand can play first and third and didn’t like DH’ing. There is no DH in the National League. Byrnes is not an infielder.
c) Barry Bonds did not get indicted by the Feds and suspended by MLB. Moises Alou is back from his second stint on the DL this year and he is doing well: BA .295, OBP .365, SLG .548. So there is not an immediate need for another outfielder at "Whatever They’re Calling It This Year" Park.
My feeling right now is that the best hope for Byrnes is that Shawn Green gets traded by deadline, DaVanon and Quentin share right field, and the D’Backs stay in the thick of the race throughout the season so that the Arizona F.O. doesn’t think the most important thing it can do is check out the prospects for 2007.
Congratulations to Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees, whose 2,000th career hit was also his 450th home run.
Outfielder Carlos Quentin made a significant MLB debut. His first MLB hit was a 2-run homer in the 6th inning that contributed to the Diamondback’s beating the Dodgers 5-2, and thus taking 3 out of 4 from the Los Angelinos. And the other new guy, Stephen Drew, also hit his third double. He went 2-4 with with 1 R and 1 RBI. Good goin’, newbies!
Webb went 8 innings, giving up only 2 runs on the way to his 11th win. They don’t call you "All Star" for nothing, Webby! Jorge Julio pitched the 9th, gave up no runs, and got his 11th save. OK, Jorge, you’ve made a believer out of me. You are not a head case anymore. Go git ‘em!
The EB Line for the day: 1-3 with 1 BB, 1 R, 1 LOB, 0 K, 0 DP, and 1 SB and BA = .291. Eric singled in the first inning and now has a 4-game hitting streak. The stolen base, which also came in the first inning, was his 12th of the year against only 1 CS, (and that was really a pick off); he now has the outright team lead in stolen bases. DTLFL is very pleased to see that Byrnes has not K’d in the 7 games since the All Star Break. In fact, he hasn’t K’d since July 2d and his K/BB ratio is now 49/25 or 1.96. Way to go, Byrnesie! Keep bringing that ratio down!
Byrnesie is 8-28 since the All Star Break. That’s only .286. Three of his 8 hits have been XBH. That’s only .375. So he needs to pick it up some if he’s going to get his BA back over .300 and keep his XBH/H over .450 and his SLG over .520. The latter is now .517.
Byrnes finally reached 300 ABs yesterday. He ended the game with 302. The next base hit of any kind gives Byrnesie more total bases than he had all of last year. I hope it happens today. I am off and can watch the whole game. (I saw him hit a home run the other day, so I think it’s OK for me to watch in real time again). He’s also only 2 Rs, 4 RBIs, and 6 Hs away from exceeding A,A’05′s totals in those categories. It would really be great if all of that could be taken care of this weekend. (If two of the hits were to be triples, he’d exceed the triples total as well). Time to get as hot as Phoenix in July, Byrnesie!
Seriously, if there is anyone reading this who actually knows Eric Byrnes, please send him a copy.
The Diamondbacks won their game against the Dodgers on July 19, 2006 and I saw most of it. I should be thrilled with what I saw. Miguel Batista pitched a complete game shutout. With all the emphasis on pitch counts, closers, etc., we don’t see many of those anymore. But Batista is a pitcher of the old school, who goes out each time with the intent to pitch a complete game, and sometimes, like tonight, he does it. I love complete games.
Gonzo passed Willie Mays on the all-time doubles list. Greenie homered. Stephen Drew had THREE extra-base hits. The D’Backs blew out the Dodgers 8-0.
And with you hitting two singles and scoring a run, I should have been happy with your performance. But instead, I am furious and hoping that Bob Melvin, Mike Aldrete, Chad Tracy and Luis Gonzalez at minimum are furious too. Most of all, I hope you are furious with yourself for your at-bat in the 6th inning, and I hope that you learned a valuable lesson from it.
Stephen Drew was on third with one out. Joe Beimel was on the mound. You and Beimel both knew that any type of hit or a deep enough fly ball would drive in Drew. You and Beimel both remembered what happened the last time you met; you hit the first pitch he threw you into an Angelino’s beer in left-center field. So this time he was determined not to give you anything good to hit. But you were determined to get a hit anyway. You swung at two balls way outside the zone and eventually hit a weak 4-3 that left Drew on third. He later scored on a balk, and the run wasn’t needed for the victory anyway. But while you did not cost your team a victory, you did a lot of damage to yourself with your stubbornness.
By refusing Beimel’s invitation to take first base, 1) you handed the Dodgers an out they weren’t even looking for at the moment, 2) you lowered your batting average, and 3) you looked incompetent.
The really great hitters know that there are times when they are the ones to drive in the runs, like the other night when you hit the 3-run homer, and then there are other times when they need to be willing to walk and let the guys behind them drive in the runs. That’s why hitters like Moises Alou, Manny Ramirez and Scott Rolen are so important to their teams. They drive in the runs when the guys ahead of them get walked intentionally or semi-intentionally. Beimel knew you could be trouble for him. You needed to let him give you first base and let Tracy and Gonzo do what they could do.
Taking a walk would have 1) not cost your team an out, 2) not driven your batting average down, 3) upped your OBP, and 4) put you in a position to possibly score another run if one of your teammates could deliver. And this turned out to be the kind of night where a lot of your guys were delivering.
More than anything, it would have shown that you understood the situation. Beimel remembered what you had done the last time he faced you, so he made an adjustment by making sure he didn’t give you anything too good to hit. You, however, did not make the corresponding adjustment of taking his wide ones. You tried to force the situation, having made up your mind that you were going to swing at what he threw, in an effort to repeat what happened a couple of nights ago, i.e. that you were the guy who broke the game open. You should have known better than that. You know the strike zone. I have seen you take pitches much closer than the ones you swung at tonight. This wasn’t an instance of being fooled by the pitches, this was an instance of you being stubborn and impatient and refusing to understand the value of taking a walk in this situation.
You usually bat 2nd or leadoff, the table-setting positions, not the typical lineup holes for someone who shares the team lead in homers, leads the team in slugging percentage, gets an extra base hit over 45% of the time he gets a hit, and is second on the team in doubles. I keep stats on your day-to-day performance, so I understand and share your frustration. I would like to see you batting fifth. But you are not there, probably because of the fact that, for someone with your slugger stats, you’re a little light in the RBI department.
In a sense, that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. As a lead-off or two hitter, you often come up with no one on base. But you are also not as "clutch" as others with comparable slugging stats are. Trouble is that trying to force the situation is not the way to up your RBI totals. It’s like when you get it into your head that you have pull everything, even though you have the skill to hit to the opposite field. When you get into that level of stubbornness, your batting average goes down because the pitchers, counting on that stubbornness, throw outside pitches that when pulled, end up as grounders to third and short.
Being a contact hitter, and someone who is willing to walk if necessary, should not be at odds with being a slugger. You have the physical strength to hit hard, you have the knowledge of the game to understand what the pitcher is trying to do to you. What you need now is the emotional make up necessary to go with what the pitcher gives, being ready for him to make the mistake. Don’t give him another advantage by being desperate to prove you can drive in the runs that are expected of someone in the heart of the order, which is where your slugging stats suggest you should be. Goodness knows that pitchers have enough advantages as it is.
A BB always looks better in the box score, and on The Eric Byrnes Pitch Count Report, than a 4-3.
The lineup for the Arizona Diamondbacks for tonight’s tilt against the Dodgers has just been printed out on MLB.com. The top of the order has me befuddled.
1) Byrnes, 2) Tracy, 3) Gonzalez, 4) Jackson.
In other words, the table setting 1 & 2 slots are being filled by the team’s co-leaders in homers. The guy with the highest SLG is leading off. And the guy with the most K’s (89), and most RBIs is batting second.
Third is kind of a transition slot, so maybe I shouldn’t make too much of the fact that Gonzo, who is the team leader in BB’s with 45, is there. He’s also the team leader in 2Bs with 29, so maybe he can collect some RBI’s if Byrnes and Tracy can get on ahead of him. But why has BoMel gotten it into his head that Conor Jackson should hit cleanup?
Jackson is the team leader in OBP and is second in walks with 39. He’s slugging at .418, whereas Byrnesie is slugging at .520 and Johnny Estrada is slugging at .490. Jackson as a leadoff hitter is something that should be seriously considered.
The one stat that would suggest Jackson over Byrnes in the heart of the order is the RBI total. Jackson has 46 and Byrnes 37. Part of this is RBI opportunities. (I have pages of The Eric Byrnes Pitch Count Report showing him going whole games batting with no one on base). But admittedly, he’s left mroe guys on base that I would have hoped. But part of that may be that he gets shuffled around a bunch. And while he occasionally gets into the heart of the order, he spends a lot of time batting second or leading off. In other words, he’s getting the message that he’s an R guy, NOT an RBI guy. Then once in a while he gets tossed into the heart of the order and told he IS an RBI guy. This shifting around doesn’t help align management expectations with player sense of identity as a hitter with physical execution of the role in the lineup. I say Melvin should stick Byrnesie in the 5-hole, tell him to thinking of himself as an RBI guy, and to work on that, and he (Melvin) should not be so in love with Byrnes’ speed on the basepaths. Yes, he’s the team’s co-leader in absolute number of stolen bases and he has the best success rate, but the D’Backs are not really a running team. Eleven SB’s is not that huge a total as to be determinative of lineup placement. It’s more like a fringe benefit.
Of course, I always hope Byrnesie does well wherever he in in the lineup. But I would like to see a batting order of 1) Jackson (OBP leader, #2 in BB), 2) Gonzalez (BB and 2B leader), 3) S Green (#2 in BA, and #2 in OBP among starters), 4) Estrada (leader in BA, #2 in RBI and SLG, 5) Byrnes (co-leader in HR, leader in SLG, 2nd in 2B, 6) Tracy (co-leader in HR, leader in RBI, but also leader in Ks by a lot), 7) Hudson (batting over .300 as the 7-hitter), 8) Drew (new guy)/Counsell (not drawing the walks he used to, but still can be pesky) 9) Pitcher. When DaVanon plays, he should lead off. He’s actually one point ahead of S. Green in OBP going into tonight.
"I think [Eric Byrnes is] a player that can impact the game defensively and with the bat in his hand." –AZ D’Backs GM Josh Byrnes, December 30, 2005.
On July 17, Eric Byrnes blasted a three-run homer to left center that busted the game (and a spectator’s beer) wide open.
On July 18, Byrnesie followed up with a brilliant catch in short left center in the 8th inning. The Dodgers won 4-1 behind the pitching of rookie Chad Billingsley. Nonetheless, Byrnes’ catch, which turned out to be the #1 web gem for the day, was significant for a couple of reasons.
1) It helped hold a baserunner at second. The Dodgers ended up not scoring that inning. Although the Dodgers were already up 4-0 at that point, the play showed them the D’Backs had not quit and that hitting it where Byrnes ain’t is not easy.
2) Byrnes had missed a few diving catches in awful June but now he’s making them again. (He made one against the Rockies just before the All-Star break). This means that his defensive timing and luck are back. The AZ pitching staff needs all the defensive help it can get.
A shout out to Chad of Charge the Mound, who alerted me to the play. I had to work late last night and the game was over by the time I got home. The top plays had not yet been posted to the video when I checked it.
It was a scary catch. He fell awkwardly and looked like he might have hurt his wrist. But he held on to the ball, and after checking his glove to make sure he had it, he threw to the cut off man. Byrnesie hurt his wrist in some way on that play, but he finished the game, batting in the bottom of the 8th (grounder to short) and playing defense in the top of the 9th, (no chances).
Although one of my definitions of happiness is a Byrnes defensive gem, this time I’m more relieved than anything else. As left fielder Luis Gonzalez, who backed up the play and checked on Byrnesie afterward has said, Byrnesie’s "got a football player’s brain." So I expect that he will want to take his hacks against the Dodgers’ Derek Lowe, a righty whom righties are hitting better than lefties. But if he gets the day off today to rest the wrist, I won’t scream bloody murder like I usually do when Byrnes is benched.
Byrnesie was only 1-4 at the plate yesterday, which dropped his batting average to .289. But he had 0 K’s and 0 DP’s, and his first inning single meant that he now needs only 4 more bases to exceed his Total Bases for A,A’05.
Hmmm. A homer or two doubles will take care of that nicely.
Rookie pitcher Enrique Gonzalez gave up only three runs in 6.2 innings, as he posted his third win against two losses last night. And that third run may have been a case of the loss of concentration that sometimes plagues young pitchers with big leads. He started the 7th with an 8-2 lead, but could not get the third out. Since he needed only 11 pitches combined to close out the 5th and 6th innings, and left the game having thrown only 92 pitches, fatigue was probably not a factor.
Unless, of course, he was tired from being on the base paths all night. En. Gonzo went 3-3, becoming the first Diamondback pitcher to get three hits in a game since Curt Schilling did it in 2001. En. Gonzo also had two RBIs and a Run-Scored. He doesn’t have the power of Dontrelle Willis, but he sure knows which end of the bat is which when he steps up to the plate. I like a pitcher who can help himself. It provides some protection for the 8 hitter and can keep alive a rally started by the lower half of the order. And Goodness knows, when the D’Backs have a quality start, the last thing they need is to have to go to the bullpen early because they had to pinch-hit for the pitcher!
It was a fine night for call-up shortstop Stephen Drew, playing against his brother, J.D., for the first time. Stephen got his first MLB hit, a single in the 4th. He also stole 3rd that inning. And he made to great and one very good defensive plays. He had the rep of not being a great glove, but he has worked on his defense. He’ll make occasional rookie mistakes like everyone else does. But beyond that, there is no reason lack confidence in his abilities at short.
Orlando Hudson seems to have found a home in the 7 hole. The broadcasters produced some stats that showed O-Dawg bats well over .300 when he’s seventh and under .220 any place else.
Eric Byrnes iced the game for the D’Backs with a 3-run jack to left center. It was the one hit Byrnesie got in 4 times up, batting second. (He was left on deck in the 8th). It was one of those strange nights for Byrnes that reinforces the adage "Baseball is a game of inches." In his first plate appearance, Byrnes lined one of starter Aaron Sele’s pitches down the right field line; it went just foul. A few inches to the left and he would have had a double at least, and possibly a triple. Later that at-bat, he swung at a ball and hit a pop-up to short center that Kenny Lofton put away.
Byrnes then swung at another ball in the third inning, hitting a routine fly to center. He was up again in the fourth inning, with runners on first and third, when he hit a long fly ball to right. J.D. Drew caught up with it on the warning track for the third out and a demonstration of the adage: "Timing is everything." With less than two out that would have been a sac fly. But all it really was was the end of the inning with Byrnesie leaving another RISP.
He made up for it in the 6th, by pounding a first-pitch fastball from reliever Joe Beimel into the second level of left center for a homer, his first since June 20. The homer made the score 8-2 and again gave Byrnesie a share of the team’s homer lead. He and Chad Tracy both have 13. I was disappointed that Byrnes did not have a chance to hit in the 8th because by then the Dodgers had closer Takashi Saito in the game. Byrnesie has done some damage against him.
The EB Line was 1-4 with 3 RBI, 1 R, 0 K, 0 DP, 2 LOB and .290. Byrnesie has gotten 4 hits since the All Star Break and 3 of them have been for extra bases. I hope this means he’s about to go on another tear. I really enjoyed seeing him batting above .300. I’ll bet a lot of other people enjoyed it, too.
Shawn Green played a capable first base last night, which meant all four outfielders were in the game without benefit of DH. (DaVanon played right and led off). Regular first baseman Conor Jackson was resting a shoulder strain, and his usual backup, Tony Clark, has a shoulder problem that might land him on the DL.
It appears that both the Angels and the Yankees are interested in Shawn Green. The Yankees, who are looking for veteran outfield help, preferably left-handed, might have been especially interested in what went on in Phoenix last night. They are not happy with the fielding of first baseman Jason Giambi. If they were to decide to keep Gary Sheffield, who is currently recovering from wrist surgery, they could move Giambi to DH if they got a suitable replacement at first base. Or Shawn could stay in Arizona, and back up Jackson from time to time, with Clark on the DL and perhaps later DFA’d. Either of the latter moves with Clark would open up roster space for another Baby D. Do they have a young pitcher who deserves a promotion?
On Monday, July 17, I am guest-hosting KPFA’s book show "Cover to Cover." It’a an interview with Liz McIntyre, co-author of Spychips: how major corporations and government plan to track your every move with RFID.
You can listen at KPFA.org at 3 pm Pacfic time or later via our archives. If you do the latter, look for the show Cover to Cover under the Arts and Humanities link.
If you are in the listening area, the frequency is 94.1 FM.
Eric Byrnes, batting 6th today, was 0-3 with one LOB. No K’s and No DPs. His BA is down to .290. I saw his first AB, when he got drilled. Then he stole his 11th base, giving him the outright team lead. (And he’s got the best success rate, 11 for 12). But it came with two outs and he was left on base when Stephen Drew swung at Ball Four, transforming it into Strike Three.
In the 5th inning, Byrnes threw Mike Rivera out at third, ending an inning in which the Brewers scored 2 runs on their way to a 10-5 thrashing of the D’Backs.
Congratulatons to Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees, who now has 400 saves.
Just about everyone contributed on offense, especially cleanup hitter Conor Jackson who hit 2 homers and got 3 RBI. The heart of the batting order Jackson, Estrada and Green–Oh My!– was a collective 5-12 w 4 RBI and 3 R. Stephen Drew did not get any hits in his MLB debut, but he walked and scored a run. Luis Gonzalez batted third and he hit two doubles in a night that saw him go 3-5 with 2 RBI.
ANTOHER TWO BITE THE DUST! Eric Byrnes went 2-5 (BA .293) with 2 Rs, no K’s and no DPs. Both hits were doubles. He now has 39 XBH this year. This exceeds the 37 he had in A,A’05. That the two XBHs were doubles brings him to a total of 25, which exceeds the 24 he had in A,A’05. (I’ve had a strong feeling for a while now that 24 and 25 were going to come in the same game and they did). Eric now has 148 total bases, meaning he needs only 9 more to exceed last year’s total. He now has 45 runs scored, which means he needs only 5 more Rs to exceed last year’s total there as well. So unless he goes wild hitting triples this week, those are the two most likely categories to fall next. (He needs two triples to make 4, besting the 3 he hit last year).
Even a great day like today had some quacks. Byrnes hasn’t hit a homer since June 20. He’s overdue. We’d like to see him hit 3 or 4 before July is over. And he needs some three and 4 hit days to go with all the 2-5′s he’s getting. Since he’s at the top of the lineup he gets 5 ABs instead of the usual 4 and so his batting average needs more 3 hit days.
Byrnesie had no RBI, leaving 3 on base this game. Gonzo’s two doubles and a signle were accompanied by two double plays. He had 3 LOB. And speaking of double plays, the Fates must have decreed that Orlando Hudson was going to get doubled up somehow, because after the Brewers threw away the DP relay from 2nd, in the 7th, Hudson headed to second without noticing that the errant ball had quickly caromed back to Prince Fielder, who made the throw in plenty of time to get Hudson at second. A strange DP indeed, and one that helped ensure that Byrnesie didn’t bat in his special inning. (He grounded to short in the 8th).
And DTLFL hates pitch counts for anyone except Pedro Martinez. Webb struck out the last batter he faced. Why call on the bull pen to start the 8th? Don’t they need some rest?
Note to Chad: Consider this the long article on Byrnes for which you have been waiting.
[M]y concern here is whether [DTLFL] will still count as an Arizona blog come the trade deadline… –Jim McLennan, AZ Snakepit, July 11, 2006.
With the 2006 All Star Game now in the history books, the next red letter day on baseball’s calendar is July 31, the non-waiver trade deadline.
If the best trades make both teams better, there are several arguments to be made in favor of the San Francisco Giants trading starter Jason Schmidt to the Arizona Diamondbacks for outfielder Eric Byrnes. Whether two teams contending for the same playoff spot would trade with each other is another story.
Why the Giants need Byrnes: According to the mid-term report filed by mlb.com reporter Rich Draper, the Giants need a right-handed power hitter. Byrnesie is not a big homer hitter. But his current 12 would put him in a three-way tie for second on the Giants with Barry Bonds, a lefty, and Ray Durham, a switch-hitting infielder. Pedro Feliz, a right-handed infielder, leads the Giants with 15. (Byrnes is second on the D’Backs with 12 and has had 3 potential homers taken from him by fine outfield plays, two by Giants). Byrnes’ 23 doubles would lead the Giants. (Feliz has 21). Note that Feliz, as of this writing, has 350 ABs, while Byrnes has only 274.
Byrnes’ .522 SLG and .292 AVG would be second only to Moises Alou’s .567 SLG and .307 AVG. But Alou, one of the game’s great right-handed hitters, turned 40 on July 3 and he has been brittle this year, appearing in only 38 games and having only 140 ABs so far.
Byrnesie’s current XBH/H is .463, which means that 46% of the time he gets a hit, it’s an extra-base hit. The Giants could use that. Bonds’ XBH/H is .489, but he has only had 189 ABs. (And if he gets indicted for perjury he might not have many more ABs). Alou’s XBH/H is .372, but again, he’s been brittle. Winn’s XBH/H is .355 and Finley is right behind him at .354.
Age is definitely an issue in the Giants outfield. Byrnes is 30 and not brittle. He’s also not played as much as other guys approaching their sixth anniversary in MLB, so you can call him "well-preserved." By contrast, Barry Bonds turns 42 on July 24. He can’t run anymore. He has a sore back, an elbow full of bone chips and a .249 batting average. Steve Finley is in good shape, but he’s 41 and not the hitter he used to be. On 262 ABs, he’s batting .248, slugging .408 and his OBP is .317. Byrnes, with 274 ABs is batting .292, slugging .522 and his OBP is .352. Byrnes has only four fewer total bases (143 to 147) than the 32 year-old Randy Winn, (which means they’d be tied in TB if Winn hadn’t taken that homer from Byrnes on April 29. :- ) Hey Giants fans, picture Winn and Byrnes playing with each other rather than against each other. Byrnesie typically has done well in "Whatever They’re Calling It This Year" Park.
Getting Eric Byrnes would also be a great PR move for the Giants. They would be bringing home a popular local guy who rooted for the Giants as a kid. Byrnesie is established as a guest host with the local Giants sports-talk radio station KNBR. He’s articulate and not surrounded by scandal. Giants media relations should be salivating at the prospect of Eric Byrnes joining the Giants.
Why the Diamondbacks would let go of Byrnes: All they were really looking for when they signed him was someone who would be a high-energy presence in the clubhouse in 2006—Orlando Hudson also fills that function—who would not drop too many balls in CF while Chris Young got seasoned in Triple A. They were not expecting him to be one of the team’s leading hitters. Byrnes is one behind Chad Tracy for the team lead in homers, with nowhere near the number of K’s Tracy has. He’s one behind Luis Gonzalez for the team lead in doubles. Byrnes leads the Snakes in SLG and XBH/H and he’s third on the team in BA, all while being only sixth in ABs with 274. No. 5, SS Craig Counsell, has 304 ABs.
The Diamondbacks really don’t have any long-range plans for Byrnes. They signed Byrnesie to a one-year deal and retained the rights to 2007no doubt for just this contingency: that if he turned out better than they expected—he’s batting about 30 points above his career average–they could get some trade value for him. But while 30 is young for the Giants, it’s old for the D’Backs. They have a bunch of outfield prospects: Chris Young, Carlos Quentin, Scott Hairston, and eventually Justin Upton, who was moved from SS to CF, who are all waiting for the veterans to get out of the way.
D’Backs manager Bob Melvin, who just got a contract extension, doesn’t appreciate Byrnesie’s right-handedness. The Diamondbacks have the most left-handed-laden lineup in the majors. And four switch-hitters to boot. Supposedly, part of the reason Byrnesie was acquired was to balance that lineup. But Melvin is always looking for an excuse to start the switch-hitting Jeff DaVanon, who bats far better from the left side than from the right. Although DaVanon plays all three outfield positions, most of his starts have come at Byrnesie’s expense, even during times when corner outfielders Shawn Green and Luis Gonzalez have slumped. While it’s true that Byrnes’ batting average is significantly higher against southpaws, Melvin overlooks the fact that a lot of Byrnesie’s power-hitting (75% of his homers and 61% of his doubles) has come off right-handed pitching.
In the Diamondbacks Mid-term report, this was MLB.com reporter Steve Gilbert’s "Fearless second-half prediction": The D-Backs will call up some of their top prospects before September, and they will give the club an energy boost. In his MLBlog, The Tao of Steve, which has hosted answers to the "when should the D’Backs bring up the prospects" question, Gilbert also said: Couple of things to keep in mind… Gonzo is not going to be easy to trade. He’s got that no-trade protection and will likely want something in return (probably his $10 million option for next year picked up) in order to agree to a deal. Shawn Green is owed roughly a little over $11 million next year (I don’t have my contract figures with me here in Pittsburgh) and has a no-trade clause that basically allows him to be traded to three West Coast teams. So making room in the outfield this year is not going to be easy.
As I said in a comment on Steve’s blog, this tells me that Byrnesie is vulnerable either to be benched or traded if the D’Backs want to bring up their prospects. I would rather see him traded than benched.
The situation in the corner outfield positions might also appear to make fourth outfielder Jeff DaVanon vulnerable. But on April 14, Melvin made it clear in an online chat that he likes DaVanon for reasons that go beyond the hot spring training he had:
joe_Drake: Coach Melvin, I have noticed Jeff DaVanon getting some regular playing time. Is Eric Byrnes hurting or is DaVanon just doing the job?
Melvin: Coming into the season, we envisioned that DaVanon, being a switch-hitter, was a good fit in giving all of our guys days off in the outfield. He’s a very good on-base percentage guy, makes the pitchers work and was probably one of the biggest surprises for us. He definitely profiles to be the type of hitter that we’re looking for here.
That last sentence tells all. A profile goes beyond a hot streak. And though we kept hearing that DaVanon’s ability to play all three outfield positions would help keep all the outfielders fresh, he’s played little left or right, getting most of his chances at center. If the presence of the prospects makes a veteran outfielder redundant, as the Brits say, I have to figure Melvin would rather keep his switch-hitter (DaVanon), rather than his pure right-hander (Byrnes).
Why the Giants would trade Jason Schmidt: This is the head scratcher. He’s their Ace. Although Schmidt’s W-L record is a mediocre 6-5, his ERA is 2.78 and his WHIP is 1.11. But I didn’t name him just to be nice to Arizona; I’ve been hearing his name as trade bait for several months now, even though I don’t especially follow the Giants.
AZ would, no doubt, prefer a left-handed pitcher, they only have one currently, a reliever named Randy Choate. But they would, just as undoubtedly, take a starter of Schmidt’s caliber if he became available to them, even though he’s a right-hander. The question is why has All Star Schmidt’s name been in the rumor mill at all?
I have a two-word guess: SALARY DUMP. He gets 10.5 mil this year. (Which raises the question of whether AZ can even afford him). If the Giants are going to make a lot of changes to get younger for ’07, they need to clear some space on their ledgers.
Actually, I doubt a straight up Schmidt-for-Byrnes trade would be made at all. There would likely be some prospect/cash considerations on both sides. But Byrnes and Schmidt would be the two reasons the GMs would be on the phone.
Just a year ago now, Byrnesie was exiled from the S.F. Bay Area by the Oakland A’s. He ended up in Colorado for two weeks, Baltimore for just over two months and now Arizona for half a season. He likes Arizona. He’s willing to stay. He thinks the Diamondbacks can win. But he also knows they need pitching and they’ve got younger, cheaper outfielders waiting in the wings.
Fourteen games into the season, the San Jose Mercury News wrote: "Byrnes’ face appears on billboards throughout Phoenix with those of fellow first-year Diamondbacks Johnny Estrada and Orlando Hudson as part of the team’s “A New Brand of Baseball” advertising campaign. But Byrnes, playing for his fourth team in less than a year, won’t let himself believe that he’s a fixture with the team just because he’s helping promote it.
“I’m careful unpacking my bags,” said Byrnes…"
It’s high time he came full circle. Send Eric back home, Arizona. The Giants need him and he needs a team that values him as more than as a placeholder for a prospect. Send him back to the Bay for the pitcher you need now (and maybe one for the future). Then you can bring up the prospects you are anxious to look at again, without forcing Eric to ride the pine as you platoon your young’uns with the veteran switch-hitter who profiles to be the type you’re looking for.
Felipe Alou will know what to do with a speedy 30-year-old right-handed hitter who has been known to bang out a double or two.
Personal note: Byrnes to the Giants is no boon to me. Though it would move me from rooting for AZ to rooting for SF to take the NL West, going to the park more than once or twice a year is too expensive. So is purchasing a cable TV package. Due to local blackout rules, MLB.TV would blackout all the Giants games, and my TV is so old that I don’t get good reception on the free local Fox station that carries the Giants from time to time. So if Byrnesie were to be traded to the Giants, my opportunities to watch him live would be severely restricted by more than my temporary suspicion that he does better when I don’t watch him live. And there is part of me wondering if Byrnes wouldn’t end up on the bench in San Francisco this year unless Bonds were to get suspended and Alou were to get injured again. (And I NEVER wish injury on ANY player for ANY reason!) i.e. Would Byrnesie end up in an "out of the frying pan, into the fire" situation with respect to playing time, if he got traded to the Giants?
Eric Byrnes wants to play every day and he wants to win. So that’s what I want for him. And if that could happen in AZ, that would be fine with me. After all, I ordered my AZ cap the day after he signed with them. But I don’t think this AZ thing is working out. The Snakes have played 88 games and their "everyday" CF will have to play at least 5 or 6 more just to reach 300 ABs. And it’s not like he’s batting .210 with 1 HR, 7 RBI and 90 Ks. The beat reporter got questions before the All Star break as to when the prospects will be brought up. And he’s predicting "before September." The manager, who I don’t think much of, has gotten a contract extension. And the pitching has become so erratic it’s a crapshoot where somedays it’s sevens and other days it’s "snake eyes." (pun intended).
The Diamondbacks are only 5 games out of first in the NL West. Baseball history is full of way bigger deficits made up starting even a month later than this. Maybe there is still a chance. And if there is, that’s fine with me. But for there to be a chance, there have to be some changes made. One of them is that the Diamondbacks are going to have to go from a team that believes in Byrnes half as much as he believes in himself, to a team that believes in Byrnes as much as he believes in himself. If the powers that be in Phoenix can’t do that, then maybe he’s better off coming back to the Bay.