Sick Snakes: The Diamondbacks on the Disabled List

Nice to get Chris Snyder back off the Disabled List on Tuesday - for a while, it seemed like the traffic was all one-way, with the DL being a gurgling vortex of suck, from which no-one ever seemed to return. In other words, something like going to play for the Padres, but with more painkillers.

At least we only have four players sitting on the DL: Eric Byrnes, Tom Gordon, Conor Jackson and Brandon Webb.  San Diego and the New York Mets each currently have ten men calling in to the sick line, which has certainly hampered the latter this season. The Mets have a payroll of almost $150m, and their record is only about six games better than the Diamondbacks - gloating in the streets scheduled for 9pm]. But in the Arizona infirmary, our patients are in various states of the recovery process, so let's take a look at their progress [thanks to Bob for the suggestion]. We'll go in order of expected return date.

Tom Gordon.
A poster boy for the wisdom of incentive-based contracts for players with health issues. If he'd been healthy all season, he'd have been in line for a $3m payday, regardless of actual performance. However, only $500K of this was guaranteed, with everything else dependent on him being on the active roster. He got an extra $100K for his first day on the active roster, a goal achieved in his three miserable outings - three walks and three hits to the ten batters faced - before he fell down and injured his knee. The rest would have been parceled out in $200K chunks, every 15 days, from 30-150 days, with $300K at 165 and 180 days. Now... not so much.

Gordon has been rehabbing in Reno, but the results so far have been shaky to say the best. In an outing on Sunday, five of six batters faced reached against him, on three hits and two walks - he has handed out ten free passes in just 5.1 innings of work, though managed a scoreless (and walkless) inning last night., albeit with a pair of hits. He has to improve that, if he wants to make even the 60-day bonus for the rest of the season. However, the question would have to be asked - is he really a better option than the current members of the 'pen? And would we be better off evaluating with an eye to 2010, instead of giving innings to a reliever who turns 42 later this year?

But it's not all bad news for the Gordon family - his son, a shortstop prospect in the Dodgers organization, leads the A-level Midwest League with 119 hits, 55 stolen bases, 74 runs and 10 triples. And going by Devaris Strange-Gordon, has one of the best names in the league too...

Eric Byrnes
Has at least reportedly begun strengthening exercises on his hand and wrist, after being hit by a pitch on June 25th, breaking the fifth metacarpal in his left hand, but is still wearing a wrist-brace. On Sunday, manager AJ Hinch reported that Byrnes was at least two weeks away from even facing live hitting, so it seems hopes he'd do so during the upcoming road-trip are probably over-optimistic. It wouldn't be the first time: after Byrnes got the cast taken off, he sounded on his way to recovery, saying, "I'm on a four-week timetable, but the doctors are on an eight-week timetable. We'll probably meet in the middle." Funnily enough, the trained medical practitioners appear to have had the better estimate.

The curse of the contract extension seems to be persisting. As Adam Green pointed out over at KTAR.com, "Out of five recent contract extensions handed out by General Manger Josh Byrnes, four seem to have been the wrong move." While Dan Haren's seems like a steal based on his performances so far this season, the extensions given to Eric, Chris Snyder, Chris Young and Chad Tracy have, on the results so far, ranged from the mediocre to the downright disastrous. Perhaps this helps explain why the club exercised extreme caution in its negotiations with Brandon Webb - a decision which would have been the most expensive of them all. And that brings us nicely to...

Brandon Webb
Let's start with what I wrote yesterday, before the most recent news of our ace:

If Webb wants some starts in September, it seems to me that time is beginning to run short. I tried to find something, anything about Webb picking up a baseball - not necessarily throwing it, even playing catch. Nothing. There has been hardly anything new to report since the beginning of July, when Webb announced that he will not have shoulder surgery. The aim at that point was for Webb to go onto a strengthening program that would not only resolve the issue here, but prevent a re-occurrence.

At that time, he said a return in September was a "realistic goal", and it's possible there has been activity going on beneath the surface, which just hasn't been reported. However, we can only go on what we've heard, and that would be precious little. Given the nature of the injury and the multiple steps through which Webb would have to go before even getting as far as facing live hitters, never mind a rehab assignment - playing catch, throwing off flat ground, throwing off a mound - it seems we are talking about the second-half of September for a Webb return at the earliest. 

It seems that no news was definitely not good news, with today's announcement, that things haven't really been going well. Said Josh Byrnes, "He's worked hard. It's just when it comes to throwing, it just hasn't been much different recently than it was going back to late May or June." I would imagine surgery is now once again being discussed, and the odds of him pitching at all this season now appear slim to none. The question is now whether the Diamondbacks opt to pick up the 2010 option, effectively sight-unseen. The apparent casual aside from Todd Walsh a few days ago that  the team would not do so, makes a lot more sense in the light of the latest update.

Conor Jackson

Well, I was going to write something based on the lyrics of Valley Girl, but it's kinda hard to write a parody of a parody, and any similarity between the subject of that song and CoJack is, I'm sure you'll agree, purely coincidental. Instead, I'll refer you to a good article over the weekend in the Republic, about Conor's slow progresss as he returns from valley fever, and the pneumonia into which it developed. He reckons that if he he had a 'normal' job, he'd be back to work by now - however, the odds of him being able to get back on the field this season seem to be slim.

As a result, he's working towards playing winter ball somewhere - and another possibility is that we might see Jackson in the Fall League this year. That would require an exception to be granted, as the league is normally restricted [PDF file] to those with less than two years of major league service time. If the waiver is granted, I expect to see Jackson hitting at least .600 off these minor-league pitchers, valley fever or no valley fever. ;-) Says Jackson, "I know nothing is going to be handed to me, that's for sure. I just want to be in the plans for next year. That's my main goal for right now."

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