Saturday, March 29, 2008

Another 50 SB for Byrnes?

Eric Byrnes has one speed.

The Arizona OF goes all out, all the time. He's a fan favorite. And he's one of the nicest guy in any clubhouse.

Oh yeah, and he also put up ridiculous numbers last year: 21 HR, 50 SB, 103 runs, 83 RBI and a .283 average.

So why is Byrnes selected on average late fourth/early fifth round in drafts this year? Could it be that prior to last year, he never stole more than 25 bases?

I caught up to Byrnes (or Bern-zee, as he's known to his fans), before a Cubs-Dbacks game in 'Zona earlier this month, where he signed autographs for a solid 45 minutes, posed with any fan who wanted to get a snapshot and joked around with just about anyone who would engage him.

So, Eric, how many steals you thinking this year? I asked, trying to dig up a scoop to deliver to you fantasy faithful out there.

"Well," he said, pausing as he chose his words carefully. "Fifty again sounds good to me."

Now, before you go penciling in Byrnes for a half-century bags, there's a good chance manager Bob Melvin will be hitting Byrnes cleanup most of the year, which could cut into those numbers. With Melvin, you never know. He penciled 146 different lineups out of 162 games in 2007.

But Melvin said just over a week ago that he's looking at Byrnes as his cleanup this year, and he's been hitting either third or fourth most of the spring.

The thing with Byrnes is, he's so versatile with speed and power - no matter where he hits -that he'll be a valuable addition to any roster. Almost as much as Brandon Phillips, who's usually drafted 2 full rounds higher. You just don't know if it'll be 50 steals and 100 runs from the No. 2 hole or 30 steals and 100 RBI at cleanup.

Either way, if Byrnes is available in the fourth round, grab him.

You not only will get across-the-board numbers, you get a guy who's fun to cheer for, a guy who was so popular in Oakland that the contingent in the leftfield bleachers started the Eric Byrnes Fan Club.

Byrnes, as you may remember, also worked the All-Star game as a guest commentator with his dog from a kayak in McCovey's Cove. And he also has a weekly show on XM radio, which is pretty entertaining.

"People listen to that show?" Byrnes joked.

Good things happen when you steal 50 bases.


Parks Helms said...

I was wondering if this blog's HQ is also located 44 floors below the Observer, like the Phuzzle

Anonymous said...

Byrnes is crazy. I saw him hit a pop fly down the first base line and he ran to first with the bat still in his hand.

By Josh Fields