When he came up with the Marlins, Dontrelle "D-Train" Willis was known for his high leg kick and energetic play, but after four very good seasons, he became more hittable and wilder than before and then completely fell apart after his trade to the Tigers and signing a $29 millions extension. Recently, he has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and placed on the DL. Adam Adkins and Daniel Paulling debate what the Tigers should do with him.
Willis has fallen hard since his Marlins days.
Willis Could have value in Bullpen
By Adam Adkins
Although it is very likely that Dontrelle Willis is through as a productive pitcher, the Tigers owe him a lot of money and have no reason to cut bait on him. He still has value, potentially, as a LOOGY, although he'd be the priciest left handed specialist in history. But that is the hand the Tigers have been dealt.
Send him to the minors and abolish that foolish delivery. It doesn't fool anyone anymore, and it might be hindering his ability to throw strikes. Get rid of it, pick your two favorite pitches--fastball or not--and get used to letting it loose for an inning.
Perhaps Willis could become a dominant reliever. Or, maybe he'll suck at that too. Either way, it's a far better option to explore the potential inside rather than cut him.
But I'd say it's highly unlikely to work. But Eric Gagne was a failed starter, Mariano Rivera was a failed starter, Jon Papelbon was a good prospect as a starter but became a monster as a closer...
Just food for thought. It’s the kind of thing I would expect from a supposedly good GM-manager combo in Dombrowski and Leyland. Try and make something out of nothing. Plus, the Tigers bullpen is awful, almost as bad as their rotation, so seeing what sticks on the wall is a worthy idea.
Even if it’s probably going to fail, it’s better than cutting the guy. But if they had looked at any statistical trends -- you know, like the Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, Oakland A’s or Chicago Cubs do -- they’d have seen, clearly, plain as day, without a doubt, that Willis was on the downswing and he was probably done as a productive pitcher. But they still gave him a 3 year deal. Foolish.
Prove your worth, Dombrowski.
Time for Tigers to Cut Losses
By Daniel Paulling
Detroit has tried nearly everything it could to help Dontrelle Willis reclaim his previous form. The Tigers sent him to the minor leagues, they tried him in the major leagues, and they tried a different delivery in spring training. None of it worked. Willis kept missing the strike zone not just by inches but feet sometimes.
Detroit allowed Willis to return to his previous delivery, but that did not work. His control is shot, and it’s a shame for this to happen to someone as charismatic and genuine as Willis.
Now, there is a chance some team desperate for pitching will send a minor league scrub in return for Willis and a boatload of cash. And the Tigers would be stupid not to jump at that offer. If no such opportunity exists, the Tigers need to just cut their losses and let Willis go. This isn’t the most likely scenario but also the wisest.
Yes, it is tough to let go of someone whose ceiling is oh so high. Yes, it is tough to eat two years and $20 or so million, especially after the Tigers sent Gary Sheffield and his $14 million packing. But those are sunk costs. Detroit will have to pay them whether they are on the roster or not. Willis isn’t helping the Tigers win right now, and it doesn’t seem like he will in the next two seasons.
Why not just let him loose?
What should the Tigers do with Dontrelle Willis?