Five Diamondbacks surprises that I would not have predicted in the offseason:
- Josh Byrnes' firing. Byrnes' contract ran through 2015 and included an ownership stake, so his July dismissal took me by surprise. The departure of Jeff Moorad may have been a factor, reported the Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro. General Managing Partner Ken Kendrick cited the team's weak farm system as a primary reason, in that Piecoro article.
- Brandon Webb a non-factor. Byrnes and the rest of the team's management saw enough in Webb to exercise his club option in January at an $8MM net cost. Presumably they expected at least five months out of him. Instead, his recovery from August 2009 shoulder surgery will delay his 2010 debut until September, when he'll try to make a few relief appearances.
- The terrible bullpen. I wasn't thrilled with the D'Backs' additions of Aaron Heilman and Bob Howry, but I did not expect their pen to post an ERA near 6.00. Chad Qualls and Juan Gutierrez were much worse than expected, but the D'Backs haven't found much on the scrap heap or in the minors either.
- The Dan Haren and Edwin Jackson trades. Haren is signed through 2012 and Jackson through '11, but once Byrnes was fired these trades became much more realistic. I also thought Haren would bring a better package in return if dealt.
- The performances of Chris Young, Ian Kennedy, and Kelly Johnson. The bounceback seasons for Young and Johnson were not shocking, as they've had big league success before. The feeling on Kennedy heading into the season was that he made for a questionable #3 starter who would be decent if healthy. The 25-year-old righty is having a fine season with 140 strikeouts in 158 innings.