Dontrelle’s Latest Disaster

The rocky Tigers career of Dontrelle Willis has been well documented. And the story just keeps getting sadder as Willis walked 8 hitters in his rehab start for Toledo. There is this rush in sports conversation today to be the first to declare someone “done” and to call for a release. Much of it is premature and reactionary (Armando Galarraga is the true ace of the staff and Brandon Lyon should be released were popular refrains in April). But we’re on 2 years of frustration with Willis. It’s time.

The fact that the Tigers are even putting Willis on a rehab assignment is surprising. He may have another start left, or at least he was planned to before his latest outing. But to what end? Willis is in no position to join the team at this point and contribute in a very key month of the season. His activation from the DL would only serve to inhibit playoff roster flexibility.

The Tigers have been patient and Willis has done his part by the sounds of things and has been a professional through his ordeal. We don’t know what has happened behind closed doors and there is very little talk that filters through to the media. Both sides get credit for that as well. But it’s time.

There was little harm in holding on to Willis this year, they were paying him anyways and eating 2 years of salary is a harder pill to swallow. It was only a matter of holding a 40 man roster spot, and it was worth pursuing. But now the 40 man roster is full and there are a number of players who will need protecting this offseason and that spot will be better spent on a prospect.

I’d guess it doesn’t happen until the offseason, there isn’t a pressing need to rock any boats right now. But I’d be shocked if he is on the 40 man roster by the time the Winter Meetings arrive in Indianapolis. We’ll always have May 19th.

9 Comments

  1. Jonah

    August 30, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    Is it really a “sad” thing?

    Dude makes more money this year then me and you will in our lives. I wish I was him.

  2. Anthony Lewis

    August 31, 2009 at 12:09 am

    I think Billfer is referring to the fact that he was once a fantastic pitcher and is still a good guy and he more than likely did not do anything to deserve this fate, it just happened to him.

    Hey Bill?!? I heard Dontrelle was a pretty decent hitter for being a full time pitcher. Has there been any talk of maybe converting him to a full time hitter? Or would he just not stack up in that kind of role and just served as a “decent hitting pitcher”?

  3. Mike in CT

    August 31, 2009 at 12:53 am

    Two sides on this issue. It’s sad for Willis on the personal standpoint. Nobody wants to see a guy lose it.

    At the same time, this is Major League Baseball, not a charity. At this point it’s a sunk cost. (And when you factor in all the “dead money” on this team for the season, we should all send Mike Illitch a thank you card. Guess fourth in the American League attendance is good enough.)

  4. Jeff Molby

    August 31, 2009 at 1:28 am

    Does he have to stay on the 40-man? There probably aren’t any teams that would sign him to a major league contract if he were released, but I’m sure there are at least a handful that would sign him to a minor league contract on the off-chance that he pulls himself together.

    Most guys need to be shown the door when they’ve lost it, but Dontrelle has no misconceptions about his (in)effectiveness. He already accepted one demotion all the way to A ball. He might accept another one — in the form of being removed from the 40-man — if the rules allow for it.

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  6. Vince in MN

    August 31, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Even if he were getting hit but throwing strikes, would have been somewhat encouraging. However, not being able to find the plate is just more of the same old same old over the last year or so. On the other hand, due to the money already invested, maybe sticking with him in Toledo through the end of the season isn’t entirely out of the question. It’s not like he will be hurting the Mud Hens’ post-season chances if he gets a few more starts. My gut feeling though is that Dontrelle has had his run.

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  9. Nick

    September 1, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Billfer – glad to hear that not every blogger/sports columnist is 100% reactionary. It’s important to remember that evaluating a player’s talent (or lack thereof) is a process that needs to occur over a litany of games. That being said I completely agree that Willis has had his time and two years is plenty of time. Let him go!