Are the Braves a bad organization? One of the danger signs of a bad organization is attempting to “fix” mistakes by bringing back players whom they mistakenly gave up on. However, when they gave up the players were young and cheap; now they’re old and expensive. It’s a loser’s game.
Paul Byrd was with the Braves in 1997 and early 1998. He came over originally from the Mets for Greg McMichael, which really takes me back. He pitched a fair amount as a spot starter and long reliever in 1997, but the team soured on him and let him rot in Richmond in 1998 before waiving him to make room on the 40-man roster for Norm Charlton, of all people. It almost immediately backfired, as Byrd was picked up by the Phillies and pitched exceptionally well. He had a good year in 1999, winning fifteen games and making the All-Star team, before struggling in 2000 and being dealt to Kansas City in 2001. He pitched well again for the Royals and last year was their ace, winning 17 games for a team that lost 100.
The Braves signed him to a two-year contract evidently intending him to replace Greg Maddux, which is something like the Chicago Bulls using Pete Myers to replace Michael Jordan. But when Maddux accepted arbitration, the combination of the contracts of Byrd and Russ Ortiz forced the team to trade Kevin Millwood. Byrd instead wound up replacing Damian Moss as the fourth starter.
Byrd has exceptional control, walking only 38 men in 228 1/3 innings last year. That’s basically his game. He’s not a big strikeout pitcher, he gives up a bunch of homers — the second most in the AL last year — and he allows about a hit an inning. But he doesn’t beat himself and with a good defense behind him he does okay. He’s an extreme fly-ball pitcher.