Of all the hammer-blows to strike the team, three days before Opening Day, discovering one of our starting pitchers has cancer is probably among the least expected and most unfortunate. But that's the situation we find ourselves in, after the news that Doug Davis has thyroid cancer. It seems to run in Davis's family - his mother and sister have been gone through thyroid surgery - and from what I've read, that seems to greatly increase Doug's chances. The good news, if any news can truly be described that way, is that this kind is eminently curable, especially when caught in the early stages, as it seems to have been here. I want to extend my best wishes, and I'm sure those of all SnakePit readers, to Doug and his relations; I met his father, Mike, at last Sunday's game, and a nicer guy it's hard to imagine. Our thoughts are with the entire Davis family, and we'll pulling, like never before, for Doug to get the W.
The current schedule sees Davis going in for surgery on April 10; recovery could be as short as a month, since the surgery is not seen as a major procedure, needing only an overnight stay. However, my instinct is that it will take longer than that, perhaps six to eight weeks. The surprise to me is that Davis is still intent on making his first two starts of the season, on April 3 vs the Reds, and then against the Dodgers on the 8th before going to have the operation. I can see exactly why that's the case: Doug doesn't want the team to be down two starters at the beginning of the year, and therefore wants to wait until the Big Unit returns, to take his spot in the rotation, before bowing out temporarily. Admirable sentiments, for sure, but I do have qualms about this.
Certainly, looking at last night, the results weren't wonderful, though Davis refused to blame his situation. "I really didn't think about it all, believe it or not. I thought I was actually executing pitches, but everything just got hit out of the park." Since you ask, Doug: no, I don't believe you. ;-) I know for a fact that my mind would not possibly be 100% focussed on the job at hand, and I have to wonder if it would make more sense if he bowed out now. It's only two starts, and we have options for the rotation who can, it seems, do a credible job of filling in for him. I know it's not what Doug wants - according to Melvin, "As I'm trying to grasp the news, he's trying to talk me into his next start" - and I have enormous respect for that, but sometimes, even the biggest hero needs to do what's best for the team.
Assuming for the moment he stays, this would appear to mean that Edgar Gonzalez will be in the rotation for at least the first couple of months. Taking EdGon out of the bullpen opens up an additional spot there; s'funny, it means we could probably have kept Nippert around for another month or so, but more on that in a moment. Replacing him as long relief will be Yusmeiro Petit, with Brandon Medders completing a sterling comeback to claim the spot which, just a month ago, looked to be gift-wrapped and with a label marked "For Dustin" on it. Jailen Peguero ends up getting optioned down to Tucson, but that gives you a clue for part of the reason for the move - he had options left, and Medders didn't. But it likely won't be the end: said Melvin, "I'd be shocked if Jailen Peguero wasn't a part of this team at some point this year." He only allowed 13 K's in eleven spring innings, with just three runs allowed, for a 2.45 ERA, the lowest of any AZ pitcher with ten or more IP.
As noted elsewhere, Dustin Nippert is now Dustin the wind, having been traded to Texas for High-A pitcher Jose Marte, whom we'll have to call J-Mart, I guess. Have to say, he's old for his level, turning 25 in less than two weeks, and he hardly lit up the mound last season, posting a 5.91 ERA in 40 games for Bakersfield. This definitely seems like a case of us knowing Nippert wouldn't go through waivers if we tried that, so getting the proverbial bag of balls, as better than nothing. Do have some sympathy for him, not least because he also became a father for the second time yesterday, before discovering he'd been traded. Good luck to him, and may he get a chance in Texas.
Last night's game was...what it was. Davis got hammered, but his mere presence on the mound was an achievement in itself; the middle-relief was excellent (4.1 innings of one-hit ball); our C-list pitchers got roughed up by the Rockies' C-list hitters. They used 28 players, we used 27. The official attendance was 24,663, but I sense a good number of the season ticket holders, who found tickets forcibly included in their packages, stayed home. The actual attendance was probably down in the teens. Hudson and Reynolds had a pair of hits each, Young went yard, and Drew had a hit and a walk.
Fun GameDay Thread though; good to get the old commenting muscles warmed up in time for Monday. Thanks to those who took part: snakecharmer, dstorm, Silverblood, Devin, soco, Russ and Azreous. Tonight sees the final game of Spring Training, as we play the Mexican champions. That actually sounds a lot more fun than another game against Colorado, but it's not on TV or anything useful like that. We're having family over for a dinner, since it's Mrs. SnakePit's mother's birthday. The smell of roast pork, rice and beans is already driving me nuts. ;-)
Monday - Opening Day - marks ten years to the day since the first-ever game for the Diamondbacks. The Tribune cover the past decade in a series of articles, going back to the moment when Colangelo nearly bailed, after MLB suddenly upped the expansion fee by $20m. There's also a 76-picture slideshow of the past decade, covering moments both high (the World Series, natch) and low (Jose Jimenez's no-hitter against us). I like the one of Johnson reacting in 2000, after getting hit by a pitch, and also found some good ones for future lolbacking. Brought back some memories.
So I get up this morning, pop over to check the SnakePit fantasy baseball league for the first time in a couple of days, and discover all hell has broken loose, with Zephon dumping all his players on to the waiver wire for a bit of a laugh. A feeding frenzy resulted: which, of course half the teams, missed out on entirely. That slamming sound you hear was any prospect of fair competition closing the door on its way out. So I just had to spend two hours reversing all the recent moves, setting his team back to what it was at Draft Day and locking it down. Memo to all: if you don't want to be in the league, take another hit from the goddamn bong instead, and don't frickin' sign up. Really. It's not difficult. Apologies to those on the waiting list who didn't get in.
Following on somewhat from the video which compared us, for questionable reasons, to Nickelback, The Good Phight has also compared NL teams to bands. We are The Eagles, in part because we were, "Initially assembled from members of other great groups, they later developed their own look and sound, including ditching the hideous clothes of their early days." I particularly liked the Giants entry, comparing them to The Grateful Dead: "Defined for years by the presence of a bloated, drug-addled figurehead who all the fans paid to see, at the expense of developing or addressing the needs of the rest of the group." I'm tempted to do something similar, and compare teams to movies, or something along those lines.
Okay, this will be the last post on the old platform - shock announcements concerning starting pitchers excepted, of course. :-( I spent the rest of the morning, when not repairing our fantasy league, configuring our new lodgings, and the move is expected to take place shortly after midnight tonight. Not sure what time zone that's in, but I'm thinking it's likely Pacific. The address will remain unchanged, but it'll look and feel different. I think you're going to like it. Techgod Trei will be posting a get started guide, but since I intend to have a lie-in tomorrow, you can also find a tutorial on the basics of posting here. See you on SnakePit 2.0!
Today's talking point: should Doug Davis make his first two starts?