7.15.2005

Byrnes Calls O'Dowd, Trades Himself to Rockies

byrnes1017
By Susan Slusser

Former Oakland A's outfielder Eric Byrnes is a "do-it-yourself" kind of guy: from checking his own X-rays to making a bong out of a batting tee to burning Zeppelin CDs for his teammates, the young slugger isn't content to rely on others. That's why over the All Star break, Byrnes decided to take his professional fate into his own hands.

"I've known [Colorado Rockies GM] Dan [O'Dowd] for years," Byrnes says. "We met at a Big Head Todd concert at Red Rocks, and we really vibed. And so when Oakland wasn't giving me the PT I deserved, I just picked up the phone and made the call."

O'Dowd confirms the exchange.

"Eric just explained to me how he was being underutilized in Oakland, and how much he would help our team," he says. "He explained the importance of team chemistry and how he knew how to 'set the right vibe' in the locker room with candles and music, and how much that could help a struggling team."

The two men talked long into the night, negotiating various trade options.

"I told Dan that the A's were going to need at least [first baseman Todd] Helton, [young pitcher Jeff] Francis, and a few minor leaguers to get me away from [Oakland GM] Billy [Beane]," Byrnes recalls. "Dan was silent for a little while, and then said, 'How about two crappy pitchers?' 'Yeah, that'll work,' I told him."

On Tuesday, Byrnes called Beane and informed him of the agreement that he and O'Dowd had reached. Byrnes says that Beane was "surprisingly groovy" about the whole thing, telling him, "you just saved me the trouble." Beane declined to comment for this story.

Overall, Byrnes is excited about heading to Colorado. "It's just mellower there," he says. "No pressure. Just mountains and pretty smiles. I can't wait to get on the plane."

Let's just hope he doesn't try to fly it himself.

Susan Slusser writes for the San Francisco Chronicle

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