Dontrelle Willis Coming to D-Backs; Despite His Recent Struggles, it May Not Be the Worst Thing in the World
Willis, the former Florida Marlins and Detroit Tigers southpaw, was traded to the D-Backs yesterday, just days after the Tigers designated him for assignment.
The Tigers also threw some cash in on the deal while acquiring right-hander Billy Buckner.
The past few seasons have been a far cry from 2003, when Willis exploded onto the baseball scene in Florida as he helped the Marlins to a World Series title while going 14-6 with a 3.30 ERA.
The fan favorite was the National League Rookie of the Year that season, but had his best stuff in 2205 when he went 22-10 with a 2.63 ERA.
Since then, he's been mediocre at best while dealing with the pressure of a huge contract. Willis, traded to Detroit in the Miguel Cabrera deal in 2007, was 1-2 with a 4.98 ERA in eight starts and one relief appearance for the Tigers this year.
Now, Willis will be pegged with helping the worst pitching staff in the big leagues.
The D-Backs have a league-worst 5.68 ERA. Their bullpen is a joke, always finding new ways to blow leads and the starters have been inconsistent. Hell, even Dan Haren was torched last week.
How then, does acquiring a pitcher who is struggling so much supposed to help the free-falling Snakes?
Easy, they have nothing to lose. June is here and the hometown boys are practically out of the race already. They are one of the worst teams in baseball and won't be getting a whiff of the playoffs anytime soon.
If they keep up their current pace of losing (which seems like every night) the D-Backs will lose 100 games. Granted, that isn't as bad as the 2003 Tigers, who lost 119 games and finished 47 games out of first place.
But manager A.J. Hinch surely expected more before the season began.
Now, maybe Willis can discover his magic touch of seasons past and help turn around a staff that has been flat-out awful so far this season.
This is General Manager Josh Byrnes last gasp at a successful season. If Willis fails (which seems likely), Byrnes can say the season was already over anyway.
But if Willis rediscovers his old touch and provides a spark for this season and beyond, Byrnes looks like a genius.
Time will tell if Willis pans out and is able to help the Snakes out of the cellar. Don't get too excited though, because he'll probably flame out...again.