Byrnes Reaches Unique Milestone

The incumbant LF keeps producing, and may soon win over the Arizona fan base. ALSO: Claudio Vargas is quietly solid at the back end of the rotation, Brandon Webb has one more chance to improve his Cy Young resume, and Johnny Estrada could be on the way out.

   Eric Byrnes keeps saying he's not around to replace Luis Gonzalez in left field -- that it's impossible to replace the face of a franchise. But if Byrnes can keep producing seasons like the one he's enjoying
this year with the Diamondbacks, he'll win over the fans that have long
supported Gonzalez.
   If he hasn't already, that is.
   Byrnes became the first Diamondbacks player in the franchise's
nine-year history to hit at least 25 home runs and steal 25 or more bases in
a season when he reached both totals Wednesday.
   He picked up the 25th homer -- a career high -- with a two-run shot
at AT&T Park in the first inning of Arizona's 6-3 victory over the
Giants, and he stole two bases in the fifth to raise his career-high total
to 25.
   His 77 RBIs, also a career high, are tied for the team lead with
Chad Tracy and rookie Conor Jackson.
   Byrnes, who signed a one-year deal to play center field in Arizona
this season after coming off a bad second half to 2005 with Baltimore
and Colorado, will take over the starting duties in left field next
   Gonzalez, 39, was told by management earlier this month that he is
no longer in the team's plans. When that story broke, general manager
Josh Byrnes then announced that Byrnes would move from center to left in
2007 and rookies Chris Young (center field) and Carlos Quentin (right
field) would take up the other two spots.
   Byrnes is arbitration-eligible, but there is speculation he may be
offered a multiyear deal by the Diamondbacks in the coming weeks. His
agent, Mike Sasson, has already had preliminary discussions with the club
on that front.
   "Hopefully, we can work something out," Byrnes said. "A player like
me, generally, you just look at finding a job from one year to the
   REPLAY: Claudio Vargas extended the starting rotation's streak of
quality starts to eight in a row when he allowed three runs and just four
hits over 6 2/3 innings Wednesday in the Diamondbacks' 6-3 victory in
San Francisco.
   Vargas picked up his 12th victory and has now allowed an average of
2.5 earned runs over his past nine starts. Not bad for a pitcher who
barely won a job as the No. 5 starter coming out of spring training.
   "He's had a nice year for us," manager Bob Melvin said. "Coming in,
you're the No. 4 or 5 guy and you put together what he put together
this year, you're going to take that anytime, so he's had a nice season
for himself."
   Arizona finished 37-44 on the road, its third-lowest victory total
away from home in the franchise's nine-year history. The club won 31
road games during its inaugural season in 1998, and just 22 in 2004, when
it went 51-111.

   --RHP Brandon Webb is expected to make one more start in Sunday's
final regular-season game against visiting San Diego. Webb, in the hunt
for the National League Cy Young Award, has had 23 "quality starts,"
including four in a row in a stretch that has seen him take over the NL ERA
lead (2.88) as well as tie for the lead league in wins (16), complete
games (5) and shutouts (3). He ranks second in innings pitched (231) and
ninth in strikeouts (167), and he leads all major-leaguers with a 3.66
groundout/flyout ratio.
   --LF Luis Gonzalez got another day off Wednesday from manager Bob
Melvin as a way to rest up for what sure is to be an emotional end to the
season for the longtime face of the Diamondbacks franchise. Gonzalez
ends the year with four games at Chase Field, Thursday through Sunday
against the Padres.
   Melvin noted that although Arizona is out of the playoff picture and
Gonzalez's final days will be well-celebrated, the Diamondbacks "can't
lose sight" of the fact the Padres are trying to capture a division
title, something that has never occurred by an opposing team at Chase
   "It's not like we're going to run the kids out there all the time,"
he said. "We're going to have a balance every day of running our core
guys out there and some of our younger guys, not unlike what we've been
doing the second half anyway."
   --3B Chad Tracy didn't start for the second time in four days
because of some nagging tendonitis in his left knee, a problem he and manager
Bob Melvin revealed earlier this week has been troubling Tracy all
season. If he is able, Tracy may start at least two of the club's final
four home games to end the year.
   Melvin said medical reports suggest the knee will improve simply
through rest, but Tracy had indicated earlier he may have it fully
examined in the offseason.
   --SS Craig Counsell, who is likely appearing in his last season with
the Diamondbacks, will get a start at either second base or shortstop
on Sunday in the club's final game of the year against San Diego. Manager Bob Melvin said the departure of LF Luis Gonzalez
shouldn't overshadow Counsell's contributions over the years.
   "He deserves to be in there," Melvin said. "If Gonzo is the face and
the icon (of the franchise), then 'Couns' is the internal parts -- the
guts, the glue. I mean, he does all the little things without the
fanfare and always seems to be right in the middle of a win."
   --C Johnny Estrada has become outspoken the past several days about
his reduction in playing time, and has said he now welcomes being
traded in the offseason to a team that wants to win. The Diamondbacks appear
to be comfortable going with rookie Miguel Montero and Chris Snyder
next season.
   "He's had a nice offensive year," manager Bob Melvin said of
Estrada. "He's a guy we've counted on all season. ... He hasn't gotten as many
at-bats toward the end, but he's been our everyday guy and our No. 1
starter. ... I didn't read some of his quotes, but I'm not going to
comment on those. As far as where he ends up next year, that's up to the
front office. We feel we have some viable options with Montero and Snyder.
That's one of the positions where we have a little bit of surplus."

   BY THE NUMBERS: 1-62 -- Diamondbacks' record when trailing after
eight innings, through Sept. 26.

   QUOTE TO NOTE: "He'll hit third and do what he normally does, but
I've got a few things up my sleeve for that last day." -- Manager Bob
Melvin, on Luis Gonzalez's last game with the Diamondbacks, Oct. 1 at home
against the Padres. Arizona recently informed the veteran left fielder
he will not be welcomed back next season.


   3B Chad Tracy didn't play Sept. 24 because of tendonitis in his left
knee, which he said has been bothering him all season. He was back in
the lineup Sept. 25, but he sat out Sept. 27.
   1B Tony Clark had season-ending surgery Sept. 20 to repair damage to
the labrum in his right shoulder. The Diamondbacks hope he will be
ready for the start of spring training.
   OF Jeff DaVanon, who went on the disabled list retroactive to Aug. 6
with a left ankle sprain, had season-ending surgery on Sept. 6.

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