Byrnes has been under Epstein's wing in Boston
The 35-year-old Byrnes replaces Joe Garagiola Jr., the general manager since the Diamondbacks' inception. Garagiola resigned to become senior vice president of baseball operations in the commissioner's office.
"So many of the people and circumstances here make this a great fit, and it feels like a dream job," Byrnes said at a news conference after a cross-country flight from Boston.
Byrnes, known for his appreciation of an elaborate statistical analysis of the game and its players, had been assistant GM of the Red Sox since Theo Epstein was hired as general manager in 2002. The two worked together to develop the Boston team that won the World Series championship in 2004.
"Having experienced success at different places at different times, I always come back to the approach of balance," Byrnes said. "I think we do need to balance short-term and long-term. You always want to win now but you don't want to mortgage the future.
"You need to balance old school-new school, the use of numbers versus the use of instinct and visual judgment. We need to balance rosters. It's not as much of a superstar sport as football and basketball and your weak links will show up in a long season."
"Leaving Boston was not easy," Byrnes said. "It was a high level of passion to win, a unique rivalry, a baseball operations staff which was a great, great place to work. That's what I need to learn here and need to recreate here."
The Diamondbacks interviewed several candidates, including San Diego Padres general manager Kevin Towers, Chicago White Sox director of player development Dave Wilder, Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden and Diamondbacks interim GM Bob Gebhard.
The three who conducted the interviews -- managing partner Ken Kendrick, general partner Jeff Moorad and club president Rich Dozer -- all concluded that Byrnes was the best choice, Kendrick said. Kendrick said the partners will be involved in matters that call for major expenditures.
"But for the most part, we have concluded when we looked at this profile that we needed to recognize that we are not baseball guys," Kendrick said. "We are baseball fans and we have a passion for the game. I've been one in my life that has wanted to become associated with people who were experts and then were given the responsibility and authority to act on their expertise. For the most part, that's what we're going to do."
Moorad called Byrnes "extremely bright, with high character and high integrity."
"Our instincts are when Josh Byrnes steps into the role formally, he has the potential to be not only a successful general manager but a great one," Moorad said.
Byrnes is not the youngest general manager in the game, however. The Texas Rangers recently promoted Jon Daniels, 28, to the post, part of a trend toward young general managers.
The Diamondbacks were 77-85 last season, finishing second in the weak NL West, below expectations but a significant improvement from the 2004 squad that lost 111 games. Byrnes already has talked about the team's needs.
"I hate to do too much of a diagnosis without talking to everyone," Byrnes said. "I think there are some pitching needs. There were some positive steps at the end with the bullpen getting settled. But defending your own turf is a big issue. Winning at home and doing better at home are important things."
The Diamondbacks were 36-45 at home last season.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press