Padres Finally Act, Fire GM Byrnes
With the season all but lost and the calls for change from fans reaching a level ownership could no longer ignore, the Friars finally acted by relieving EVP/GM Josh Byrnes of his duties earlier today. A GM “committee” consisting of Omar Minaya, Senior VP of Baseball Ops, along with assistant GM’s AJ Hinch and Fred Uhlman, Jr., will serve on an interim basis until a full-time replacement is found, according to a statement released by the team today.
For now the job of manager Bud Black, widely respected in baseball circles but not necessarily among Padres fans, appears to be safe.
The Friars reside in 4th place in the NL West, just 1.5 games ahead of Arizona and own the third worst record in all of baseball. The team’s offense has been putrid and some of that falls squarely on the shoulders of the now former GM, who failed to add quality hitters to the ML team during his tenure.
Byrnes’ strategy of identifying the club’s best young talent and locking it up to long-term deals, while sound on the surface, has backfired in just about every instance. His most recent pre-arb extension with Jedd Gyorko has blown up in the team’s face with the sophomore second-sacker posting an OPS of just .482 and now on the DL with a foot injury. Past extensions with Cameron Maybin, Nick Hundley and Cory Luebke have worked out little to any better.
The Padres could easily be called Team Mendoza since so many of the club’s regulars possess batting averages hovering around the .200 mark. Yonder Alonso (.210), Will Venable (.205), Chase Headley (.200), Carlos Quentin (.200), Yasmani Grandal (.191) and Gyorko (.162) have all tremendously underachieved and were acquired by and/or extended by Byrnes during his relatively brief two-plus year tenure as the team’s GM.
The Padres need to perform an exhaustive search for a replacement and have to be prepared to spend some money to bring in the right guy. Small to mid-market clubs can be successful if they have the right guys in the front office. The first guy I would love to get, though I doubt he’d consider it, is Andrew Friedman of Tampa. Even if that option is nearly impossible, the Friars should be aiming that high in their quest to find someone able to lead this team back to the postseason.
Whoever gets the gig isn’t walking into a bad spot. While many of the extensions have failed to pan out as planned, the team doesn’t have any crippling contracts on the books. The club also boasts a solid minor league system that should begin bearing fruit for the big league team relatively quickly.
The next few weeks will be very important for the Padres. With the trade deadline looming and decisions on several pending free agents (Headley, Seth Smith, Chris Denorfia and Huston Street chief among them) awaiting, the Friars now need to find the guy that’s going to make those decisions.