Friday, September 21, 2007
Yesterday afternoon, I put in a call to the Diamondbacks hoping to talk with GM Josh Byrnes for ten to fifteen minutes. After several failed attempts with other teams' GM's, I doubted a call back from the Diamondbacks or Byrnes. However, as I was walking in this afternoon, Byrnes called me back and had ten minutes to give me my interview. Byrnes is currently in his second year with the Diamondbacks as their GM, but has been with the Red Sox and the Indians previously. I want to thank Josh Byrnes again for calling me back and doing this interview with me.
ELI: How long have you been with the Diamondbacks?
JOSH: Almost two years now.
ELI: And what are your day to day duties with the Diamondbacks?
JOSH: A little bit of everything actually. I deal mostly with the MLB. You know, issues that may come up, how the team is doing, making sure everyone is healthy and things like that.
ELI: You have one assistant GM, do you talk with him everyday?
JOSH: We talk everyday.
ELI: You acquired Randy Johnson this off season, what were the initial steps to acquiring him?
JOSH: Well, we hadn't done much coming into the Winter Meetings and the Yankees had signed Andy Pettitte and Kei Igawa. So I put in a call to Cashman and ask about Randy Johnson. It made sense for both teams because Johnson was dealing with some personal issues and it made sense for him to be near home and we needed some veteran pitching to help anchor our rotation.
ELI: You were able to sign Eric Byrnes a couple weeks ago, how important was it to you and the organization to get him signed?
JOSH: Oh it was very important. He is a very talented player who players very well everyday.
ELI: Micah Owings is showing a lot of potential on the mound, but also with the bat. Was he once a hitter?
JOSH: Yeah he was a hitter all the way up. He set a homerun record in high school and played very well in college and all the way through our system.
ELI: From what you see, who would you say are the leaders of the team?
JOSH: Well, the pitchers sort of separate themselves at times so for the pitchers, I'd say Livan Hernandez. He is a veteran pitcher, great guy to have in the clubhouse, helps them out a lot. For the position players, probably [Eric] Byrnes, [Orlando] Hudson, and Tony Clark. All three of them are veterans who play the game well every game.
ELI: You worked with the Red Sox before the Diamondbacks, how do your philosophies differ?
JOSH: Are philosophies are similar, but different. I worked with Theo [Epstein] a lot so we see eye to eye at times. But I think the main difference is our payroll's that we deal with everyday.
ELI: You started as an intern with Indians, who in their Front Office was like a mentor to you?
JOSH: That was definitely a learning experience for me. John Hart, who was the GM at the time, was a big mentor of mine. I got to talk with Dan O'Dowd, who was very nice and taught me a lot. Mark Shapiro, who was the Director of Player Development, now there GM, taught me a lot about the game so I learned a lot from all three of those guys.
ELI: How did you decide this season who the September call ups were going to be?
JOSH: Being in a pennant race, we didn't want to many guys walking around not contributing or anything, so we called up guys who we thought could help out the club. You always want to reward guys for doing a good job but it is hard when you are in a race like this.
ELI: I wasn't able to check, but who were the minor league players of the year?
JOSH: Some of our position players like Justin Upton and Carlos Gonzalez have really impressed us this year while pitchers Brett Anderson and Esmerling Vasquez did a great job for us as well.
ELI: What have you heard about the new jersey's this year?
JOSH: I think people like them. The colors changed some but I think people like the new ones a lot. I see a lot of people wearing them around town, in the ballpark, so I guess people like the change.
ELI: What do you hope to improve upon this off season?
JOSH: We have a good offense and a lot of depth so I think we will be focusing on pitching this off season. Livan is going to be entering the free agent market and we feel that there are some good pitchers that could help out our club.