That’s right, “The D-Train” is now once again available. After signing a 1 year, 1 million dollar contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, Dontrelle Willis was released after struggling in Spring Training. Perhaps one of the most historic players in club history, Dontrelle is still without a doubt my favorite player to ever suit up for the Miami Marlins. That is saying a lot considering my own uncle pitched for the squad. Willis accomplished miraculous achievements for the Marlins in his 4 year run. Here are just a FEW:
- Won a total of 68 games as a Marlin, finishing with a career 3.79 ERA for the fish.
- 2 Time All-Star with the Marlins. (2003,2005)
- 2003 Rookie of the Year
- Finished 2nd in the Cy Young Award voting, and 11th in the MVP voting. (2005)
- 2003 World Series Champion
- League Leader in “Wins” with 22, “Complete Games” with 7, and “Shutouts” with 5. (2005)
- 8 career home runs and 35 career RBI’s with the Marlins.
Quite impressive numbers. No doubt, Dontrelle Willis will go into history as being one of the organizations top pitchers. However, starting in 2007, Dontrelle hit a hard wall. Struggling with the command, velocity, and placement, Willis was shelled all 2007 season. To make matters worse, he continued to decline after the blockbuster trade that sent he and Miguel Cabrera to the Detroit Tigers. It’s safe to say ever since the trade, Dontrelle has not been himself. As we all know, “The D-Train” was famous for his trademark leg-kick that distinguished him from the rest of the league. At first, many hitters actually admitted the leg-kick threw them off and made it difficult to hit the lefty. As time went by and the league got comfortable, the leg-kick seemed to do more harm than damage. Lets take a look at Dontrelle’s career from 2007 to today:
- Since 2007, owns a 14-30 record on the mound with a 6.53 ERA.
- From 2008 to present day, has more BB’s (156) than strikeouts (139)
- Led the league in Earned Runs allowed (2007)
- Has bounced around with 4 teams, never staying a complete year in the majors. Detroit Tigers (2008-2010) Arizona Diamondbacks (2010) Cincinnati Reds(2011) Philadelphia Phillies (2012)
- Has even struggled in the minors since leaving Florida
Clearly, Dontrelle has lost it. While I still have not given up completely on his career, it is safe to say he will never return to the form that made him such a feared force on the mound. However, there COULD still be light at the end of the tunnel. Last year for the Reds, though his record and ERA do not show it, Willis did not look terrible. Starting 13 games, Willis fanned 57 hitters while only walking 37. I know these are not GREAT numbers, and I would be dumb to call them GOOD numbers, but you can tell he is trying to improve. Also, getting a chance to watch 3 of his starts, Willis would pitch with great command for about 4 innings before hitting a rough patch. Not to mention he had ZERO run support from the Reds. This was a major reason why the Phillies chose to sign him to a bullpen role before Spring Training got underway.
As said earlier, Willis failed to start off hot with the Phillies and has been released from Spring Training. Now an interesting question pop’s up…..do the fish take a chance and bring home an old hero? Obviously it would be a minor league contract with no guarantees of a major league deal. It has been reported that the New York Yankees had interest in Willis before the Philadelphia signing and may still be interested in the lefty. With our bullpen being close to finalized, Willis would have to work his way to the league by impressing in the minors. Do the Marlins take a chance? Should they take a chance?
Being a realist, I realize that Dontrelle Willis will probably be zero help to this team moving forward even if we do ink him. Still, being my favorite player, and hero for that matter, I refuse to to be upset if the Marlins take a chance. It would make my day to see Dontrelle succeed again. He deserves it.