Remember seven short years ago when a guy with a quirky delivery and average stuff captivated all of baseball with his enthusiasm? Remember how he helped the Florida Marlins to a World Series title in 2003, came back with an average 2004 then went 22-10 with a 2.63 ERA, with seven complete games and five shutouts in 2005? Remember how that’s basically the last time he was any good at pitching?
Well, Dontrelle Willis – he of the quirky delivery and average stuff – was traded to the Detroit Tigers in December of 2007 as part of an eight player deal. Willis then signed a three-year, $29 million contract extension and has proceeded to give the Tigers virtually nothing but his sparkling personality in return.
Last night the Tigers had finally had enough. They shipped Willis and his disappointing career to the Arizona Diamondbacks. It should tell you how lightly they regard Willis’ ability when you consider that in return all they got was Billy Buckner. In three starts with Arizona this year, Buckner was 0-3 with an 11.08 ERA. And the Tigers saw that and said, “Yeah we’d rather have him than Willis.”
It’s incredible how far Dontrelle has fallen.
After landing in Detroit Willis’ numbers look like this: Three years, 24 games (22 starts) and a 2-8 record. He pitched 101.0 innings and allowed 103 hits, 77 runs (all earned), 92 walks and 11 home runs, while tallying just 68 strikeouts. His ERA with the Tigers was 6.86 and his WHIP was a ridiculous 1.93.
I would rather have Buckner too.
Willis is currently 28-years-old and will make $12 million this year just for showing up. Ouch.
Everyone in baseball shook their heads when the Tigers sunk that much money into Willis following the worst season of his career (up to that point). In 2007 just before being dealt to Detroit, Willis went 10-15 with a 5.17 ERA, a 1.60 WHIP and a .294 batting average against. The Tigers gave that guy three years and $29 million. That’s not only the kind of deal that gets you fired, in some countries it’s the kind of deal that gets you marched before a firing squad.
But hey we wish Dontrelle and the Diamondbacks the best of luck together.