Sunday, December 03, 2006

Brewers Doug Melvin Happily Parts with Doug Davis

For two solid months Brewers GM Doug Melvin walked a tightrope as he attempted to acquire catcher Johnny Estrada from Arizona. It required skill, circumspection and patience -- and a certain amount of restraint -- to close the deal without appearing too eager to part with a pitcher, Doug Davis, in a pitcher scarce market. True, Davis has been capable of throwing 200 innings per season, a sold selling point. But Davis will be 32 at the end of next season and his stats show some unfavorable trends. For one thing his ERA balooned from 3.39 in '04 and 3.84 in '05 to 4.91 last year, while his strikeouts fell from one per inning over that period to 159 in 203 innings for '06, sending up a couple of red flags. Davis lost his concentration early in the season, resulting in control problems, and the difficulties seemed to snowball. Insiders say Davis was distracted by domestic and other related off-field problems, and they hope that he'll return to being his old self once those issues are resolved and he has the advantage of new environs. Maybe so, but the thin air of Arizona is less than an ideal for a fresh start for for a troubled pitcher, while Johnny Estrada arrives in Milwaukee with no baggage in tow.