This time of the year the trades and releases are finalized so that the new rosters are trimmed and ready to roll out at Spring Training. Sometimes it is expected, sometimes it is a little shocking and there are times when a particular cut is sad.
This winter there were a lot of expected roster moves. No one really expected Randy Johnson to return again with the Giants or anyone else. Mr. Johnson’s career is so distinguished and his body so worn that there is no reason to continue. His numbers are staggering. Just do the simple math to figure out what it takes in terms of major league seasons and durability to win 300 games! We saw Randy’s departure coming.
Other free agent moves, from a mere fan point of view, drive us crazy. John Lackey, the long time Angel, is now headed to the mound for the Red Sox? It is too weird. Remember his rookie start in the 7th game of the World Series? Always a bulldog. Always a professional.
Always prepared and always a team player. If those of us who are not even die hard Angel fans find it difficult to conceive of John Lackey in a Rex Sox uniform, what are the hard core Angel faithful going through? Certainly along those very same lines, in the “are you kidding me?” category is the signing of Chone Figgins, the Angel with the biggest heart, to the division rival Seattle Mariners!
Figgins is a throw back to the good old days where it was plainly obvious that players love the game … and played like it! Chone, too, came up through the Angel system playing so hard and so many positions that he had to become an everyday player! His enthusiasm, broad smile, constant hustle and competitive fire will be missed by those of us in the Southern California region who love to see the game played right!
And then the saddest cut of all. The news of the D-Backs release of Eric Byrnes is sad. It certainly can be justified by a “baseball is business” necessity, but it still is hard to see him go. Decidedly No – Cal, Eric’s free spirit, sense of humor and enthusiasm will be missed. He, too, plays the game full throttle with passion and competitive fire. Vince Scully, who has seen a few games and several thousand major leaguers play, said that Eric Byrnes was “fun to
watch play baseball!” I can only imgine what it would feel like to have the most honorable Mr. Vince Scully make that comment about me! Forget the Hall of Fame, the endorsement of baseball’s greatest analyst speaks volumes. Our hope is that Eric’s injuries are behind him and a few good years are still ahead. Eric Byrnes will be missed as a human being and a true professional.