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Diamondbacks saddled with Cahill's big contract, marginal production

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While fans and pundits continue to worry about right-hander Trevor Cahill from an economic standpoint, the Diamondbacks remain just as concerned about his contribution to the team.

Since his position as a principal starter in the rotation at the start of the season, Cahill fell quickly from grace. His early starts were atrocious and quickly, manager Kirk Gibson exiled the native of Oceanside, Calif. to the bullpen.

There, he’s languished and decayed.

After four starts, Gibson and management pulled the plug and now Cahill is reserved for spot duty. The argument can be made he is not the D-backs’ true long reliever out of the bullpen as that role was given to Randall Delgado. For the current time, Cahill is a man in limbo and his salary of $7.75 million this season and $12 million for 2015 is something no team wants to touch.

“(Cahill) is not consistent with his fast ball command and that’s critical for a pitcher,” said Gibson before Sunday’s game with the Braves in Chase Field. “We still believe in him.”

That seems to be “the party line” because the way Cahill is used is almost an afterthought. In 19 appearances before Sunday’s game, he was 1-6 with a 5.66 ERA. Gibson used Cahill three straight days last week, and said he righty was not used to that workload.

Still, the economics surrounding Cahill dictates his stay in Arizona.

No team wants to be saddled with a marginal pitcher whose compensation is not commensurate with production.

The Diamondbacks continue to try and get value from Cahill. Gibson reported that he is watching video of his 18-8 season in 2010 with Oakland. That year, he was named to the American League all-star team for the game in Anaheim but did not participate. That lead to a 12-14 season the next year with the A’s and then dealt to the Diamondbacks on Dec. 9, 2011 as part of a five-player deal.

“When you’re successful, your confidence level rises and we need to get his confidence level up,” Gibson added. “This is a game of failure and sometimes, you have to will yourself back to a certain confidence level.”

THE END?

At this point, the Diamondbacks appear concerned for the future of infielder Eric Chavez.

Given manager Kirk Gibson’s penchant for resting players through the grind of a major league baseball season, the plan is to rest regulars along the way, including third baseman Martin Prado.

That would mean inserting Chavez at third, but there is little response to a nagging knee injury. Right now, Chavez is confined to coming off the bench as a pinch-hitter but that role may be compromised.

Appearing in 43 games prior to Sunday, Chavez was hitting .246 (17-for-69) with seven extra-base hits and eight RBIs. The .246 average is the second-lowest average in his productive career. In 2010, Chavez hit .234 for Oakland and then singed with the New York Yankees as a free agent the previous year.

“His knee is degenerative and he had flair-ups as early as spring training,” Gibson said. “It’s not really responding to treatment and (management) will have a discussion about this and other things (after Sunday’s game).”

Placing Chavez on the disabled list, Gibson indicated, is one option and if that happens, his playing career could be in jeopardy. At 36 years-old and four trips to the DL over the last three years, Chavez is likely the first to recognize his run in The Show reached its finish line.

MORE DECISIONS

Aside from the future of Chavez, manager Kirk Gibson and management are about to discuss the fate of J. J. Putz, their former closer.

Out since May 6 with right forearm tightness, Putz is at the stage of his current rehab program where he can rejoin the 25-man playing roster. When he went down early last month, the Diamondbacks called up reliever Evan Marshall from Triple-A Reno and Marshall responded with quality. Prior to Sunday’s game, the 24-year-old native of Sunnyvale, Calif. made 13 appearances, had a 2-1 record and 1.23 ERA.

When placed on the DL, Putz was 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA and allowed six runs in 10 innings of work.

Prior to Saturday’s game with the Braves, Gibson told reporters that Putz pitched in back-to-back games last Thursday and Friday and looked stronger in the second appearance.

“At this point, we want to talk about (Putz),” Gibson said. “We have a few decisions to make and Monday, something will go down.”

Speaking with reporters before Sunday’s game, Gibson reiterated that time table and said several issues, including the future of Putz, is currently on the table.

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