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Dontrelle Willis signs one-year contract with Phillies

Dec 15, 2011, 4:10 PM EDT

Colorado Rockies v Cincinnati Reds Getty Images

UPDATE: Willis passed his physical exam, so the deal is now official.


Last month Dontrelle Willis was said to be drawing a decent amount of interest as a free agent and sure enough it sounds like he’s managed to get a big-league deal for guaranteed money.

Jerry Crasnick of reports that Willis is close to a one-year, $1 million contract with Philadelphia, where he’d presumably be used out of the bullpen as a situational left-hander (and pinch-hitter).

Willis wasn’t exactly impressive for the Reds in 2011, throwing 76 innings with a 5.00 ERA and 57/37 K/BB ratio in 13 starts, and he hasn’t had an ERA under 5.00 since way back in 2006. Since then he’s logged a total of 404 innings with a 5.65 ERA, walking nearly as many (243) as he struck out (285).

On the other hand, Willis has always done a solid job shutting down lefties and has yet to be given an opportunity to make it as a full-time reliever, with 202 of his 205 career appearances being starts. Based on merit and track record Willis deserved only a minor-league deal, but clearly the Phillies are still believers in the 30-year-old former Rookie of the Year.

  1. muckthefets23 - Dec 13, 2011 at 10:53 AM

    When I said the phils needed a lefty this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind… But here’s hoping!

    • evanwins - Dec 13, 2011 at 1:34 PM

      Personally, I love this signing. Cheap, he can obviously get lefty’s out, he can hit (1.+ career bops, hit .387 last year) and he’s Jimmy Rollins’ best friend. I think that will help BOTH of them be better this year…as long as Rollins comes back.

      • siftin thru nonsense - Dec 13, 2011 at 1:52 PM

        Yeah, he gets lefties out, but there is more to it. You also have to limit walks. If he can get the wildness under control he will be effective (vs Lefties). Rightees hit .300 against him.

  2. El Bravo - Dec 13, 2011 at 10:54 AM

    Hey Phillies fans!

    • Jonny 5 - Dec 13, 2011 at 11:01 AM

      Hey El Bravo! Do you know what’s funnier than the Phillies paying Dontrelle Willis 1 M to pitch for them? The Braves paying Derek Lowe 10 M to pitch for Cleveland!!!

      • El Bravo - Dec 13, 2011 at 11:03 AM

        Ouch. I hate you. Better he in Cleveland than ATL, but still 😦

      • elpendejo59 - Dec 13, 2011 at 12:37 PM

        I am a lifelong Braves fan…and all I can say is well played, sir. Well played.

  3. seanmk - Dec 13, 2011 at 10:59 AM

    if he’s used strictly as a LOOGY i love it. he does well against lefties

    • paperlions - Dec 13, 2011 at 11:37 AM

      Yep, this could look very smart if they use him as a long-reliever (in blowouts) and a LOOGY….he’ll be cheaper than most of the recycled LOOGYs, and more versatile.

      • Francisco (FC) - Dec 13, 2011 at 11:49 AM

        Now, if only Manuel can be trained to actually use a pitcher as a LOOGY…

      • drunkenhooliganism - Dec 13, 2011 at 11:59 AM

        Francisco, the last time he had a decent LOOGY was Scott Eyre and the Phillies won the world series.

        Of course that had nothing to do with their inabilty to hit the last two postseasons

      • Francisco (FC) - Dec 13, 2011 at 4:52 PM

        Aja! D-Train can hit, so really Ruben is trying to solve two problems with one signing.

  4. mdpickles - Dec 13, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    It’s not who I had in mind for backup 1B and corner outfielder, but the guy has a better OPS than Lance Nix.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 16, 2011 at 10:33 AM

      His bizarre first name is ‘Laynce.’

  5. metalhead65 - Dec 13, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    he stats may not be the best but did you people actualy watch him play for the reds? he kept them in every ball game he pitched except one or 2 hideous outings. I lost track of how many games he went out of behind 1 or 2 to nothing after 6 which the reds came back to win or that he was up and lost after they took him out. 6 innings is all you will get but they are usually quality starts unless you have a manager who will send him out for a 7th when even a blind man can see he does not have it anymore but that seems to a dusty baker specialty. good luck Dontrelle.

  6. drmonkeyarmy - Dec 13, 2011 at 11:46 AM

    Upon careful consideration, this deal gets the Dr.MonkeyArmy seal of approval. I think he can be effective as a LOOGY and can be the 7th starter if need be. To back up my claim, he has a career OPS against vs lefties of .562 and posted a .369 clip last season.

    • Jonny 5 - Dec 13, 2011 at 12:31 PM

      Check out his xFIP and Sierra Dr. It looks as if he may in line for better numbers with a better defense behind him.

      • metalhead65 - Dec 13, 2011 at 12:46 PM

        what the hell is xfip? dear god these new stats are beyond stupid!

      • drmonkeyarmy - Dec 13, 2011 at 12:46 PM

        Yeah, I did Jonny…..I think this was a rather shrewd move by RAJ.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Dec 13, 2011 at 12:52 PM

        I use to think the same thing, but they are actually informative and rather predictive of future performance. xFIP and FIP attempt to measure the things pitchers can control. When a pitchers ERA is significantly lower than XFIP, is suggests that the pitcher pitched better than what the ERA would suggest….maybe they were a victim of poor defensive play or had an inordinately high BABIP. Likewise, if the ERA is significantly lower than those values (I’m looking at you Kyle Kendrick), it suggests that the performance had a large component of luck. For a better explanation, go to fangraphs and read their explanation/definitions of these values.

      • Francisco (FC) - Dec 13, 2011 at 4:53 PM

        Doc… you may want to reread what you wrote…

      • drmonkeyarmy - Dec 13, 2011 at 5:56 PM

        Yeah….sigh….can’t use the “it was late” excuse. Double face palm.

      • JBerardi - Dec 15, 2011 at 5:16 PM

        “what the hell is xfip? dear god these new stats are beyond stupid!”

        “I don’t know what it is, it must suck” is the exact attitude you want to adopt if you plan on missing everything good in life and dying angry.

  7. 12strikes - Dec 13, 2011 at 11:55 AM

    A reliever that can go long if needed. Please Please PLEASE tell me this is the end of Kyle Kendrick!!!

    • drmonkeyarmy - Dec 13, 2011 at 12:01 PM

      It is not….he was tendered a contract so he will most likely be back as the long man and 6th starter.

    • Francisco (FC) - Dec 13, 2011 at 12:31 PM

      Kendrick was actually pretty good last year, in spite of a few meltdowns here and there. Problem is he’s going to start getting expensive soon (for a long-man spot starter).

      • drmonkeyarmy - Dec 13, 2011 at 12:45 PM

        Already will be expensive. Probably to the tune of 3 million + this season. Also, I dispute the fact that he was pretty good. I opt to say lucky. His peripherals were nearly identical to every other season. It is just that the rockets were hit right at people last season, except in that start in Colorado…he was great that night.

      • Jonny 5 - Dec 13, 2011 at 12:55 PM

        Dr. I expect Kendrick to be non tendered, then offered a contract similar to last season’s contract. He’s not bad as a long relief man or a SP if and when a man goes down hurt for a bit.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Dec 13, 2011 at 12:58 PM

        He was tendered Jonny.

      • Jonny 5 - Dec 13, 2011 at 1:02 PM

        Thanks, missed that one. I guess he’s got more value than I thought.

      • Francisco (FC) - Dec 13, 2011 at 4:58 PM

        It is just that the rockets were hit right at people last season

        Quite obviously Doc, he was using the force to guide the ball… Or maybe he did the Caddyshack thing. I agree it will be hard to duplicate last season’s effort.

  8. cintiphil - Dec 13, 2011 at 2:47 PM

    If the Phills are smart, they will not try to make this guy a starter. He is very good as a middle relief man or set up guy. After 3-4 innings he seems to have problems with wildness and can get hammered. I would use him only in relief. We saw him too many times here. He is a gamer but for some reason, not the same guy who was once great.

  9. areyesrn - Dec 13, 2011 at 6:11 PM

    can he lose about 25 pounds, first?

  10. mojosmagic - Dec 13, 2011 at 6:44 PM

    In a perfect world they plan to use him out of the Pen against LH bats. I guess he could start or pitch long relief if there are injuries. Good clubhouse guy and is a low risk high reward type of signing.

  11. metalhead65 - Dec 13, 2011 at 9:21 PM

    don’t forget the guy hit the ball better than alot of hitters out there also.I was in favor of giving him a shot in the leadoff spot in place of the strikeout machine that is drew stubbs.

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