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What were the Diamondbacks thinking?

If I understand this correctly, the ownership of the Arizona Diamondbacks ordered General Manager Josh Byrnes to fire Manager A.J. Hinch last night, and when Byrnes refused, the team went ahead and fired him, too. Where do we even begin to explore all the dysfunction here?

You could make a compelling argument that Byrnes, a D.C. native and St. Albans alum, should have done what he was told to do by his superiors, but you give a guy a lot of backbone when you hand him an eight-year contract extension -- virtually unheard of in baseball -- as the Diamondbacks did following the 2007 season, and let him pick his own manager.

So now the Diamondbacks have gone from a disappointment to a disaster. They'll be paying Byrnes and Hinch a combined total of nearly $7 million to do nothing -- or to work for someone else. (Byrnes, in particular, is probably already fielding offers to be a "consultant" or "special assistant" somewhere.) And the franchise, which seemed locked into a defined, long-term vision, given the lengthy deals it gave Byrnes and Hinch, has to start all over. There's an interim manager (Kirk Gibson), an interim GM (Jerry DiPoto) and a whole lot of uncertainty.

Byrnes made his share of missteps, to be sure. He dealt away more good, young talent -- including Carlos Quentin, Brett Anderson, Carlos Gonzalez and Max Scherzer -- than many GMs see in their careers. But he also built an excellent player development machine (fueled by a lot of solid Mike Rizzo drafts) and moved aggressively to lock up his key players in long-term deals that were largely club-friendly. (The disastrous Eric Byrnes deal, meanwhile -- three years, $30 million, almost all of it sunk cost -- was negotiated directly by ownership, not the GM.)

However things went down in Phoenix last night, the firing of Byrnes says more about the direction of the Diamondbacks franchise than it does about the job Byrnes himself did.

By Dave Sheinin  |  July 2, 2010; 9:24 AM ET
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I think Byrnes' record speaks for itself. This team seemed like it was on the verge of something during that awesome 2007 NLCS against Colorado, and it's only regressed since then. A.J. Hinch was a moronic hire, and that-- along with the foolish trades-- falls squarely on Byrnes.

Posted by: drischord | July 2, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

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