Josh Byrnes was hired by Jeff Moorad to be the General Manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks on October 29, 2005. He was fired by the Diamondbacks on July 2, 2010. On December 3, 2010, Byrnes was hired by Jeff Moorad’s San Diego Padres as Vice President of Baseball Operations. On October 26, 2011 he was promoted to General Manager after Moorad allowed Jed Hoyer to leave for Chicago. Yesterday, on June 22, 2014, Josh Byrnes was fired by the Padres.
The Jeff Moorad era is officially over in San Diego.
I’ve not been a fan of Josh Byrnes’ tenure with the club. Some of that has been guilt by association, as he was Jeff Moorad’s boy from the beginning, and Jeff Moorad fought Tom Werner for worst owner in franchise history, and Moorad was never even officially the team’s controlling partner.
I was also quite a fan of Jed Hoyer and the team he assembled to rebuild this franchise from basically the ground up, and had Josh Byrnes not been available and not been Moorad’s boy, Jed and Jason McLeod and Jaron Madison might still be running this ball club. The Cubs may still be bad 3 seasons into the Jed Hoyer era, but at least they have a plan that you can see being executed, and there’s been a ton of young talent acquired that should pay massive dividends down the road.
Josh Byrnes’ Padres had no such plan. Yes, they drafted pretty well, and yes, many of the trades Byrnes made were net positives. However, in terms of building a roster capable of being anything more than mediocre, Byrnes was a huge failure. Often times it felt like he was settling for mediocre or hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.
It was almost as if he never really believed he could build a winning team given the limitations put on him by ownership, and so he never really tried. In the off-season before the 2013 season, after a 76-86 record in 2012, he did virtually nothing. This past off-season, after another 76-86 season, he did more, and it was enough to get some hopes up, but by the time the season had actually started, it was obvious this roster was no better than the last two.
What bugged me about Byrnes more than anything was the way he spoke about the moves he made. It seems like it should be the moves themselves that bugged me, but they were generally defensible on their own. It was when he listed improved health and general upgrades as two of his top off-season priorities, and when he described Seth Smith as the final piece to the Padres offense. I created a tag in my posts, “Josh Byrnes Drives Me Nuts.” Seth Smith got a new nickname, The Final Piece. General Upgrades always gets a laugh.
I just always had this feeling that Josh Byrnes was never going to be the guy who built a sustainable successful franchise in San Diego. When he got more money to spend this off-season, he spent it on a reliever, an injured starting pitcher who will never actually pitch for the team, and on raises to players from the past two 76-86 teams. $20 million doesn’t get you that much these days, but it should probably get you more than that.
Ownership probably had unrealistic expectations for this team this year, but I think they would have settled for a small improvement over the past two seasons. When it became clear that wasn’t happening, Byrnes had to go. Bud Black and Phil Plantier may be next. The team can’t hit, and they seem to lack fire.
I’m torn on Bud Black. On the one hand, I think he’s fine. But he talks a lot about grinding, and there’s nothing fun or enjoyable about grinding. Who wants to watch a team grind through 162 games? Can he really inspire a team to greater heights? I’m not so sure.
What the Padres shouldn’t do now is ride the Kevin Towers bus to gunslinger station. What they absolutely should do is poach an Assistant General Manager from a successful franchise and let him or her do whatever is necessary to build a potential champion. They’re already being linked to some hot commodities from the A’s, Yankees, and Red Sox. There’s scuttlebutt about possibly bringing back McLeod. This is the right idea.
I personally am a fan of Mike Girsch, Assistant GM for the Cardinals. Nobody runs a better organization than the Cards, and he’s been there since 2007. If you want to build a winner, take from a winner. If you want to be the same old Padres, bring in a good ol’ boy.
The Vocal Minority posts on Mondays. Sometimes more than once. Follow me on Twitter.