According to a report from KTAR's Craig Grialou, Brandon Webb is eyeing a return to the mound when rosters are expanded in September. It's a line we've heard, with a different date attached, more times in the last year than I can count.
For the first time, though, even if he can return, the Diamondbacks shouldn't let him.
It might seem like an odd strategy for a team that is 20-plus games out of the playoffs to turn down the services of a former Cy Young Award winner, but when you consider the big picture, it makes a lot of sense (that and any strategy, even an odd one, is better than what they've done this season).
Brandon Webb is a free agent come the offseason and has received the Eric Byrnes special this year, getting $8 million from the Diamondbacks for absolutely nothing. As a matter of fact, the D-Backs have paid Webb for one start in two years, a four-inning affair in which he gave up six runs in April 2009.
If Webb comes back and pitches this year, it will purely be as an audition for whatever club signs him. How is that beneficial to Arizona?
The Diamondbacks must learn from NBC's mishandling of Conan O'Brien.
Once the network had made the decision that they were parting ways with O'Brien, NBC let the late night host remain on air for an additional two weeks. In that time, the network didn't benefit at all from having him on air. In fact, the executives looked like idiots.
NBC became the butt of nightly jokes on its own airwaves, helped O'Brien gain additional notoriety and even helped him earn millions of dollars via his stage tour.
The Diamondbacks are in a similar situation by letting Webb take the mound in September. It's like NBC letting O'Brien host the Tonight Show those final two weeks; the D-Backs are giving Webb a platform to make them look ridiculous and to earn himself millions.
If Webb comes back and pitches anywhere near the Cy Young caliber he once was, the D-Backs and their medical staff will look bad. They will have, in essence, let Webb take the year off, at their expense, because he couldn't get over the mental hurdle of throwing.
On top of that, by letting Webb pitch, the D-Backs are giving him a platform to audition, on their dime, for his next multi-million dollar payday.
If the Diamondbacks have officially decided they are parting ways with Brandon Webb this offseason, then there is no reason to ever let him wear Sedona Red again, even if he's healthy enough. If he wants to pitch, he can do it for his new team next spring.