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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Calcaterra: Dontrelle “Rasputin” Willis to sign minor league deal with Giants

Some guys never get a shot at the big leagues. Or if they do, it’s far too short a shot and they are overlooked for the rest of their careers, exiled to Triple-A or worse. You gotta make the best of that shot. You may never get another one.

Unless you’re Dontrelle Willis, of course, in which case you seemingly get a couple dozen shots and will until you just don’t fell like trying anymore:

I heard Dontrelle Willis will be signing a minor-league contract with the #sfgiants

— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) January 10, 2014

... Since [Willis] left Florida following the 2007 season he’s 4-15 with a 6.15 ERA while walking 7.1 hitters per nine and allowing 9.3 hits per nine. And… he hasn’t even gotten a significant MINOR league look since 2011.

I know he’s a lefty and lefties are supposed to live forever, and by all accounts he’s a great guy to have around (at least if you don’t ask the Orioles). But there has been nothing — literally nothing — positive to be seen in his pitching in a decade. No indication whatsoever that he can help a ball club. How does he still get chances when so many other pitchers don’t?

Probably like this:

Dontrelle Willis turns 32 Sunday. In prime years. If he’s in good shape and figured out control issues, he could be great story. #sfgiants

— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) January 10, 2014

A nice thought. But people have been having that same thought for years. It never pans out.

The District Attorney Posted: January 11, 2014 at 05:35 PM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: angels, cubs, diamondbacks, dontrelle willis, giants, independent leagues, marlins, orioles, phillies, reds, tigers, transactions

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 11, 2014 at 06:51 PM (#4636530)
I think any once-excellent starter will get lots of chances to come back, even if he's a righty. Scott Erickson won 20 games in 1991, was decent until 1999, and then put up a 7.87 ERA in 2000, and missed all of 2001. Remarkably, he continued to get chances for another 5 years, pitching in the majors for 5 different teams and compiling 254 innings of a 74 ERA+ and 3.5 K/9. I remember being shocked when the Mets started 2004 with Erickson on the roster, but even more shocking is looking at his Baseball Reference page now and seeing that he pitched for three more teams after that.

Willis at least was still striking guys out in 2011 when he was last in the majors. And as Craig notes, it's a minor league contract. It's highly unlikely he will ever pitch in the majors again.

I'm surprised that nobody has tried to convert Willis into an outfielder. At age 32 it's probably too late to be worth it, but he had a .244/.287/.378 slashline in the majors, which is better than Rick Ankiel's line when he was just a pitcher -- and with fewer strikeouts.
   2. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: January 11, 2014 at 07:03 PM (#4636539)
I hope he makes it.
   3. Bug Selig Posted: January 11, 2014 at 09:11 PM (#4636675)
I hope my 5'11" son grows 6 inches between now and signing day.
   4. BDC Posted: January 11, 2014 at 09:15 PM (#4636677)
Inge has a good point, Willis could outhit Jeff Francoeur.
   5. Dock Ellis Posted: January 11, 2014 at 09:16 PM (#4636678)
He's very rootable. And he must love the game if he keeps trying to come back. The Giants are his fifth team since he's last appeared in the majors.

He last appeared with the Reds in 2011. Since then he's been with the Phillies, Orioles, Cubs, Angels, and now the Giants.
   6. McCoy Posted: January 11, 2014 at 09:19 PM (#4636680)
What elese is he going to do with his time?
   7. Dock Ellis Posted: January 11, 2014 at 09:30 PM (#4636693)
He could enjoy the $40MM he's made. And with his name and charisma, he could find other lines of work.
   8. catomi01 Posted: January 11, 2014 at 10:17 PM (#4636709)
I'm surprised that nobody has tried to convert Willis into an outfielder. At age 32 it's probably too late to be worth it, but he had a .244/.287/.378 slashline in the majors, which is better than Rick Ankiel's line when he was just a pitcher -- and with fewer strikeouts.


I think he went 1-2 with the Ducks this year...also walked too many and didn't strike out enough batters...easy to root for yes, but I would think any success he might find as a pitcher is pretty unlikely at this point
   9. Buck Coats Posted: January 12, 2014 at 12:10 AM (#4636751)
Does Dontrelle really get more chances than other guys? At least Dontrelle was good in 2006 (and bad but 5th starter bad in 2007). Mark Mulder's last season where he did anything was 2005, and he just got a minor-league deal too.
   10. Chris Fluit Posted: January 12, 2014 at 07:45 AM (#4636801)
Scott Kazmir is another pitcher with a seemingly endless supply of second chances. In his case, it actually worked out okay as he posted decent back of the rotation numbers for Cleveland last year.
   11. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: January 12, 2014 at 08:05 AM (#4636802)
You gotta make the best of that shot. You may never get another one.

Unless you’re Dontrelle Willis, of course, in which case you seemingly get a couple dozen shots and will until you just don’t fell like trying anymore


Dude was the Rookie of the Year and later put up a 22-10 season with a 152 ERA+ at 23. How much more can you make of your first shot?

That guy's never walking back through the door, but if he puts it together enough for 80% of that guy to come back, whatever team gave him the shot that hits wins the lottery.
   12. Flynn Posted: January 12, 2014 at 08:17 AM (#4636803)
He's from just over the Bay in Alameda. Teams will always give a shot to a local guy for PR reasons, especially if he's an early-30s lottery ticket that could become the new Jeremy Affeldt or something.
   13. asinwreck Posted: January 12, 2014 at 10:38 AM (#4636840)
[9]: To be fair to Mulder, he hadn't tried to come back with anyone for several years. Based on this article, it appears his arm strength has recovered. A little different than taking a constant tour of teams' minor league affiliates for half a decade.

Either way, I don't hold the comeback attempts against these guys.
   14. Jim Wisinski Posted: January 12, 2014 at 11:23 AM (#4636862)
Scott Kazmir is another pitcher with a seemingly endless supply of second chances. In his case, it actually worked out okay as he posted decent back of the rotation numbers for Cleveland last year.


Kazmir has received a total of one second chance in his career, the minor league deal with Cleveland.
   15. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: January 12, 2014 at 02:47 PM (#4637054)
Willis actually looked okay in Cincinnati in 2011. He made 13 starts, with an ERA of 4.21 after the first 11. The control wasn't quite there, but he kept the ball on the ground and didn't give up many HRs. He was also hitting well over .300. He then had a bad start against Chicago in September which brought his ERA up to 5. I thought he would compete for a rotation spot in 2012. The team seems to have made a good decision to cut bait.
   16. zenbitz Posted: January 12, 2014 at 03:52 PM (#4637135)
Giants thought he was Patrick Willis.
   17. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: January 12, 2014 at 05:50 PM (#4637232)
Giants thought he was Patrick Willis.


Patrick Willis is probably a better option at this point.
   18. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 12, 2014 at 06:04 PM (#4637250)
Mark Mulder has been totally out of the majors since the end of 2008, and didn't even look for minor-league contracts between retiring mid-2010 and now. Nobody can accuse him of being one of those guys who keeps getting pseudo-comebacks.

Second chances:
Scott Kazmir: 1 (Indians-present)
Ben Sheets: 2 (Oakland, Braves)
Scott Elarton: 4 (Indians, White Sox, Phillies, Twins)
Dontrelle Willis: 6 (Giants, Reds, Phillies, Orioles, Cubs, Angels, Giants)
Mark Prior: 6 (Padres, Padres, Rangers, Yankees, Red Sox, Reds)

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