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Davis-Estrada deal works for everyone

Davis-Estrada deal works for all

PHOENIX -- It's one of those rare deals that, thus far, has worked out for both teams: Johnny Estrada to the Brewers and Doug Davis to the Diamondbacks.

The left-handed Davis has been giving Arizona quality starts, and Estrada has been doing what he usually does, hit. The D-backs have made it past the first month with an 18-16 record and are in contention in the National League West. The Brewers, perish the thought, at 22-10, have the best record in Major League Baseball.

Davis, who pitched into the seventh inning on Monday night against the Phillies, said he's comfortable here in the desert, although he hasn't lost focus on what's going on in the NL Central.

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"Of course I'm paying attention," said Davis, who didn't get the decision in his club's 4-3 win, but certainly kept the D-backs in the game. "I have a lot of friends over there. I watch them play when they're on TV, and I know that they're doing well. I'm happy for them. They deserve it. The town deserves it, and I hope they have continued success until we play them."

Davis, 31, played the last three full seasons in Milwaukee and was a .500 pitcher (34-34) for a team that couldn't seem to get over the hump. Last year, he was 11-11 with a 4.91 earned run average. So far in his seven Arizona starts, he's 2-3 with a 2.36 ERA.

The Diamondbacks have scored only 134 runs, and Davis may be a little snake bit. Their offense is fifth worst in the 16-team NL.

Until now, Davis has been a journeyman pitcher. He's with his fourth team in nine big-league seasons. If there's any chagrin that he's missing the good times in Milwaukee, with a club that hasn't been to the playoffs since 1982 and hasn't had a better than .500 season since 1992, Davis isn't showing it. After all, he's a 64-66 lifetime pitcher with a 4.28 ERA, and the D-backs gave him a three-year, $22 million contract after the trade this past Nov. 26.

"No, no, no," Davis said when asked if he's sorry that he's not in Milwaukee to share the good times after the bad. "They gave me a chance to pitch every five days, and I thank them for that. That's why I'm happy for them that they're doing so well. It was a turning point for me over there. I think it was a good trade for both. So I have no regrets. I wish the best for them."

The Diamondbacks obtained Estrada from the Braves after the 2005 season to fill a hole behind the plate both offensively and defensively. But he never seemed to fit in. The front office didn't like his outspokenness, and the pitchers didn't prefer throwing to him. By the end of the year, he was virtually benched in favor of Chris Snyder despite finishing with a .302 batting average, 26 doubles, 11 homers and 71 RBIs.

For his part, he didn't like Phoenix and made it clear that he wanted to go elsewhere. The Diamondbacks were glad to comply.

This year, Estrada has continued along at his usual clip, hitting .296 with eight doubles, two homers and nine RBIs. On a night when Davis allowed two runs on five hits and came out after allowing the first three batters to reach safely to open up the seventh, Estrada went 2-for-4 in a 3-0 Milwaukee victory over Washington.

The D-backs are in fourth place, two games behind the Dodgers. The Brewers are leading the Central by 5 1/2 games over the Cubs. And even more strangely, the defending World Series champion Cardinals are in last place, already nine games out.

Good trade for both teams? D-backs manager Bob Melvin said he hasn't noticed.

"Once you make a deal, for me, and I know that it's different for general managers, you just move on," Melvin said. "You deal with the guys you have and don't worry too much about who's doing what elsewhere."

To put Milwaukee's start into perspective, in 1982, the only time the club went to the World Series, it opened 18-14 in its first 32 games on the way to winning the American League pennant and losing to the Cardinals in the Fall Classic. In 1992, the team that finished 92-78, opened 15-17 in its first 32 games. The Brewers have had just one .500 season since -- 81-81 two years ago.

The D-backs don't play the Brewers until they travel to Milwaukee in July. So any head-to-head comparisons will have to wait.

"To me, there weren't really any bad times over there," Davis said. "Here they've made it very comfortable for me. For one, I wasn't fighting for a job during Spring Training. And principally, I know I have a chance to be here for three years. I can call this place home."

He's a cog in the rotation now behind Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, Brandon Webb -- last year's NL Cy Young Award winner -- and workhorse Livan Hernandez. There's little pressure, but growing expectations.

Really, a win, win all the way around.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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