In mid-April, KTAR 98.7's John Gambadoro was the first to report that the Arizona Diamondbacks were moving struggling starter Trevor Cahill to the bullpen. It's was a good first step at the time, but it's not enough.
The D-Backs need to send a message to an under-performing roster and dump the enigmatic Cahill completely by designating him for assignment if they can't find a willing trade partner. Burying Cahill in the bullpen might seem like the best move in the short term, but the 2014 season is on the verge of slipping away from the 11-23 D-Backs.
The spotlight is squarely on general manager Kevin Towers—and rightfully so. Towers has struggled to build upon Arizona's surprising 2011 run to the NLDS by making a bunch of questionable moves in the wake of that season.
Arizona would be highly reluctant to eat the remaining $20 million that the team still owes Cahill, but hiding him in the bullpen isn't a solution at this point.
The D-Backs have simply reached a point where they can no longer stomach putting Cahill out on the mound every fifth day and hope for different results. The sample size for Cahill now extends to his last 29 starts for the D-Backs, including an 0-4 start to this season with a 9.17 ERA while in the rotation.
Maybe if the D-Backs reached out to the Oakland A's, a deal could be constructed around Cahill for struggling closer Jim Johnson. Cahill was successful in his previous stint with Oakland, and the A's might feel they can get him back on track.
The 26-year-old Cahill looks like he would benefit from a change of scenery, and moving back to a pitcher's park could only benefit the struggling pitcher. The hope had been that a new pitching coach and a new pitching guru would be able to get Cahill back to his 2010 form, when he won 18 games for the A's. Newcomers Mike Harkey and David Duncan haven't been able to fix Cahill, and even if Cahill has pitched somewhat better out of the bullpen, it's not enough.
Johnson would be moved into the bullpen mix for Arizona in the hopes of re-tooling on the fly to shorten the number of innings the team needs from the rotation by having a stronger bullpen. Johnson is coming off of back-to-back 50-save seasons while pitching for the Baltimore Orioles. It's not a perfect solution, but the D-Backs need to try something.
If Oakland isn't interested, maybe another pitching-starved MLB team will be willing to take a chance on Cahill or swap another bad contract for Cahill's remaining almost $20 million. The age and talent are there, but for whatever reason it's not working in Arizona. Let Cahill be someone else's problem.
Radical moves need to be made. The D-Backs can't afford to fall any further out of contention. It might be viewed as panicking, but it is really just facing reality. A sense of urgency has been missing from this team for the past two years, and it is time for that to return to the roster.