There are certain words in the English language that make baseball GMs absolutely giddy. “Young”. “Proven”. “Lefty”. “20-Game Winner”. And there are only two names that can be accurately associated with all these terms – Johan Santana and Dontrelle Willis. One of them appears to be available. But it’s the guy I think even GMs DON’T want.
The Florida Marlins have seemingly placed a “For Sale” sign around Dontrelle Willis’ neck, and if the press is correct (let’s face it – when are they EVER wrong?), there will be no lack of interested parties. Willis will be the fix-what-ails-ya player as the trading deadline looms and dozens and dozens of articles will be written by lazy journalists from now until then that will claim that “all the (fill in your team name here) need is Dontrelle Willis”. It’s mindless, it seems obvious, and he’s a name that they recognize (so hey, he must be good). So that MUST be the solution even though your leadoff hitter has a .310 OBP.
Look, I understand the fascination with Dontrelle. He’s a former Rookie of the Year, 2-time All Star, came in 2nd in the Cy Young voting in 2005, and he’s 25 years old. But this isn’t the Dontrelle Willis of 2005. The past two seasons, he’s been nothing more than an average starting pitcher.
Two seasons ago, Willis looked to be the future of pitching in the Major Leagues. He had a Clemens-esque 2.63 ERA to go along with 22 wins and he held his opponents to a .292 OBP. Plus, he had a great nickname – “D-Train”. But he hasn’t come remotely close to posting those numbers since.
As the chart above shows, Dontrelle’s key statistics have all gone south since the start of the 2006 season. The strikeouts have decreased slightly, the walks have nearly doubled, he’s suddenly become hittable and is allowing nearly three times the homeruns. So why would anyone want him at the price that the Marlins would be certain to request? And if it’s this clear to me, wouldn’t you think that GMs know this too?
Perhaps you think that I’m giving GMs far too much credit. But to me, Dontrelle Willis is only a ½ season away from being labeled a “reclamation project”. It seems that the Marlins waited too long to put him on the block and now won’t get nearly as much value as he would have just a year ago. Add it all up, and I just don’t see the guy going anywhere.