Sunday, August 30, 2009

Staffing Innovation: Byrd Comes Home to Roost  

Back in January I wrote about the "Roger Clemens Move" the A.L.'s 39th best starter pulled during the off-season.

Paul Byrd had retired to spend time with his family, but he left the option open to play part-time during a team's stretch run. And that's exactly what today's news ("Byrd set to resume career with Red Sox")indicates he successfully pulled off...in this case after coming out of retirement for four starts in the last couple of weeks for minor league affiliates of the Red Sox, The Louisville Hugger has been called up by Boston to fill in for the ailing Tim "The Vicarious" Wakefield.

According to the linked story, Byrd's plan almost didn't work -- as of a month ago, he hadn't heard from any teams, but he had kept himself in shape, and he has a history of having the ability to throw strikes when he wants. Even an old Byrd can succeed for a team with a productive offense, because he has that skill.

BEYOND BASEBALL It's an interesting move more organizations should consider: tapping into reasonably-skilled talent to fill in sporadic gaps.

With Byrd back in the nest, though, I thought a reprise of the January piece would be informative:

Byrd Plans Late Return... to a Feathered Nest

So when the 39th-most successful American League starter announces a remarkable business decision, it's not headline news. So it's with deep gratitude that I have to thank my baseball associate Jeffrey Balash for pointing out to me that Paul Byrd, a member of the rare breed of Crafty Righties announced late this month he was going to pull a "Roger Clemens" and not go to Spring Training, not accept any contract, but not retire. Instead, like Clemens before him, he was hinting that he was likely to make himself available in the stretch run for a contender looking for pitching rotation help.

As Ken Rosenthal noted:

The obvious question is whether a team would want him at mid-season; he would not be a high-impact, high-profile addition like Clemens was for the Astros in 2006 and Yankees in '07.

Byrd, however, says that two general managers asked him to consider their clubs if he decides to return, with one telling him, "We know you can roll out of bed and throw strikes." {SNIP} Byrd went 8-2 with a 3.46 ERA in 12 starts after the All-Star break for the Indians and Red Sox. For the season, he made 30 starts and pitched 180 innings. He said he is not putting his career on hold due to a lack of interest in him as a free agent.

"I got some really nice offers. That's what made it hard," Byrd said. "Nice offers from very competitive, big-time teams that just need someone to fill in at the back end of their rotation. I also got an offer or two from small-market teams that said they wanted me to come in and be their No. 1 or 2 guy.

{SNIP} His thinking is, if he starts off the season at home, his family might be more comfortable if he departs for 2-1/2 to 3 months in July or August instead of working the entire six-month regular season and possibly the postseason.

Why would Byrd make such a decision, and what can managers learn from it?

{SNIP}...rest of story at this link.

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