In the midst of another lackluster MLB season, the San Diego Padres have fired executive vice president/general manager Josh Byrnes.
News of the front office shakeup came through a release posted to the Padres' official website on Sunday. Padres president and CEO Mike Dee explained the rationale behind the move:
This ownership group is committed to fielding a team that consistently competes for postseason play. Thus far this season, the results on the field have been mixed at best and clearly have not lived up to expectations. After a lengthy evaluation of every facet of our baseball operations, we have decided to make this change today.
The search for a new general manager begins immediately. We are looking for someone who can define, direct and lead this franchise's baseball philosophy for years to come.
While the organization tries to find Byrnes' replacement, the GM void will be filled by multiple executives, per the Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin:
#Padres fire GM Josh Byrnes, announce interim GM position will be shared among Omar Minaya, Fred Uhlman and A.J. Hinch.— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) June 22, 2014
Byrnes is taking the majority of the heat for San Diego's results on the field, as opposed to the players or manager Bud Black, per Bleacher Report's Scott Miller:
Again, #Padres manager Bud Black & coaching staff is safe & according to sources,expected to remain so at least until permanent GM is hired.— Scott Miller (@ScottMillerBbl) June 22, 2014
Mark Whicker of The Orange County Register weighed in on the decision to keep Black:
Another young genius bites the dust. Padres were smart to fire Byrnes and not Black, although I imagine Bud is on the clock.— Mark Whicker (@MWhicker03) June 22, 2014
This marks the second time within approximately four years that Byrnes has been relieved of his duties by a club in the National League West. Previously the GM for the Arizona Diamondbacks between 2005 to 2010, Byrnes helped build Arizona's division winner in 2007 that was swept in the NLCS by the Colorado Rockies that year.
It seems the rival D-backs and Padres are intertwined in their philosophies in light of this report from USA Today's Bob Nightengale:
The Padres didn't make the postseason nor break .500 in the two full seasons Byrnes was at the helm. That trend appears destined to continue in 2014, primarily due to a lack of firepower at the plate, which ESPN Stats & Info highlights:
Padres fire GM Josh Byrnes. They currently rank last in MLB in runs scored in 2014— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 22, 2014
Playoff appearances have been few and far between for San Diego, with only five postseason berths in franchise history. Dee and Co. are evidently seeking an expedient turnaround.
But that won't happen if the Padres don't hit. They rank last in baseball in many major offensive categories entering Sunday's clash with the Los Angeles Dodgers, including hits, runs, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
When will the Padres return to the playoffs?
However, there is reason for fans to be optimistic. Fresh leadership and a new approach to personnel decisions may be just what the Padres need to get back into the thick of things.
And at least the current team has some strong pitching to hang its hat on, ranking eighth in MLB with a 3.47 ERA. If the Padres can figure out a way to scrap for more runs moving forward—perhaps by making a splash at the trade deadline—they may improve sooner than expected.
The key for Dee will be patience and due diligence to bring in the proper executive to lead a new era in San Diego. It's a tall task in the competitive NL West, but the Padres must nail this impending hire to have any immediate hope.