Everyone seems to assume that Sandy Alderson will be the next general manager of the Mets. I’ll do a fuller analysis of the two, they share some important qualities, but here are a few nuggets on the other guy, Josh Byrnes:
1. Basically, the argument for Byrnes is that he’s smart (played collegiate baseball at Haverford), and has worked for a number of well-run organizations including Cleveland, Boston and Colorado before becoming a GM in Arizona.
2. He went for it hard in Arizona in 2008, trading a bunch of prospects for Dan Haren and then Adam Dunn, but the D-Backs finished two games behind the Dodgers in the West.
4. Young soared to .257/.341/.452 in 2010, but Mark Reynolds collapsed to .198/.320/.433 while playing in 145 games. Byrnes picked Kelly Johnson off the scrap heap. The bullpen sucked.
Byrnes on his love of baseball as a teenager and his passion for about the game
“I was a teenager who loved baseball . . .” Byrnes said. “The curiosity for information has always been there.”
Byrnes, whose Diamondbacks are struggling but still in contention for a second-consecutive playoff appearance, still has plenty of curiosity about the game. Now it’s channeled through in-depth computer programs that he and his young, brainy front-office staff have composed.
Those programs combine scouting reports and statistical analyses of thousands of amateur and professional players. His staff also projects the team’s payroll for the next five years, and the Diamondbacks have compiled payroll data of all major-league teams.
He integrated novel video analysis with antiquated game-charting software to expose the elusive holes in the swings of daunting opponents like Mo Vaughn and José Canseco. He experimented in inventive numerical methods to suss out weak links in the Indians’ batting order. Soon promoted to scouting director, he spent 250 days a year, radar gun in hand, in one-street towns and indistinctive hotels and company rental cars, scrutinizing promising pitchers’ release points, imagining the prospects of a 17-year-old wunderkind a decade down the road. He succeeded at it all. “He was a guy who, once given an opportunity, started to impact us pretty quickly,” says Mark Shapiro. “The pace of Josh’s thinking, his awareness of what was going on around him, it was clear from a knowledge standpoint and an intellectual standpoint that he could make us a better organization.”
Byrnes’ secret weapon, one born in the Haverford classroom, was his skepticism—no convention was too sacred to be challenged, and no method too unusual to be used to challenge it. “A lot of baseball tradition is gray. A lot of it is thoughts that haven’t been challenged in too long,” says Byrnes. “Haverford began my ability to analyze, research and articulate thoughts on anything. Ten years ago, I’m at a game and I’m hearing scouts not wanting short right-handed pitchers, and my sense is to research that and find out the accuracy of that sort of pathology.”