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Why does Dontrelle Willis keep getting jobs?

Mar 21, 2012, 9:00 AM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies' Willis and Qualls wait to throw in the bullpen during workouts at the team's spring training complex in Clearwater Reuters

This is not a deep thought or anything, but I really do want to know what it is about Dontrelle Willis that makes teams keep signing him.  The Orioles are the latest.

He’s had two really good seasons. One of them was nine years ago, the other seven. He had one more useful season for the Marlins after that. Since he left Florida following the 2007 season he’s 4-15 with a 6.15 ERA while walking 7.1 hitters per nine and allowing 9.3 hits per nine.

I know he’s a lefty and lefties are supposed to live forever, and by all accounts he’s a great guy to have around. But there has been nothing — literally nothing — positive to be seen in his pitching. No indication whatsoever that he can help a ball club.

Yet despite this he’s able to find a job a mere day after getting cut late in spring training. Not to sound all Heymany here, but how is that possible while Johnny Damon, for example, can’t get a job? Or Roy Oswalt? Or any number of dudes?

I mean, good for Willis. But this vexes me so.

  1. bleedpurplenblack - Mar 21, 2012 at 9:07 AM

    It’s the Orioles. Enough said.

    • tycobb420 - Mar 21, 2012 at 10:35 AM

      No, no. It’s the high socks and the leg kick. He just _feels_ like a barnstorming phenom from Cuba, or some such, circa 1935. How could he not have an inner greatness that only your team’s superior coaching staff can unlock? He’s the sharp-dressed dude with the million dollar smile who is otherwise terrible boyfriend material who nonetheless keeps getting dates with girls who should know way better.

  2. dodger88 - Mar 21, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    I’m sure if Damon or Oswalt were willing to sign a minor league deal they would have at least a dozen offers if not more. As for Willis, it never ceases to amaze how the memory of just a few goods years, no matter how long ago, causes people to think or hope that they can get one more good year out of a player. It is particularly bothersome when a team blocks a prospect for the grizzled veteran.

    • dcfan4life - Mar 21, 2012 at 10:04 AM

      Also Willis signs minor league deals. From a risk reward scenario its not the worst signing in the world. Granted its a bad signing but if he doesn’t pan out, what did they really lose?

      • 18thstreet - Mar 21, 2012 at 12:30 PM

        Dan Duquette loves the scrap heap. The Red Sox used to stockpile washed up players when he was GM.

  3. Francisco (FC) - Mar 21, 2012 at 9:20 AM

    Good point on the minor-league deal condition. Oz and Johnny presumably wouldn’t sign one of those. And remember, they won’t sign for bench player money either.

    • Francisco (FC) - Mar 21, 2012 at 9:20 AM

      In fact, it’s quite possible they have had a number of offers that we haven’t heard of but none to their liking, which is their prerogative.

  4. El Bravo - Mar 21, 2012 at 9:32 AM

    I assume you mean baseball jobs…that’s a good question. I don’t think we should be surprised if he lands non-baseball jobs. I mean he’s outgoing, has a solid work ethic, and knows his strengths and weaknesses. He even has a solidly formatted CV.

  5. xmatt0926x - Mar 21, 2012 at 9:32 AM

    I think teams see a young guy who was once good who has no obvious physical reason to have become so bad so they just hope their own staff will catch something that no other pitching coach has. Then you add on the whole nice guy thing. He’s in the Brad Lidge category now where the name will keep writing checks that his physical skills can’t cash anymore.

  6. dawgpoundmember - Mar 21, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    Didn’t dombrowski offer oswalt a contract? and as for willis…my guess is clubs don’t mind seeing if it is just a confidence thing or something along those lines…I know, funny thought, but its a thought

  7. Mark - Mar 21, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    Willis keeps getting jobs because he’s a fan-fucking-tastic loogy. Last year lefties had a line of 127/169/183 against him. For his career that line is 200/274/256.

    If he’s used properly, which is strictly against LH hitters, he’s a fantastic pitcher in the bullpen.

  8. Jonny 5 - Mar 21, 2012 at 9:50 AM

    He has an OPS over 1, not bad for a bench bat who can get lefties out if need be.

    • Jonny 5 - Mar 21, 2012 at 9:50 AM

      Last season he had an OPS over 1 I meant.

  9. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 21, 2012 at 9:50 AM

    Because it’s human nature, that’s why. People are more comfortable handing positions, in all walks of life, out to those they know can do them, if badly, then unknown commodities.

    Look at the financial markets. When everything was failing, companies continued to give record bonuses to executives in order to keep them around. Rather than let some high ranking manager take over, they’d prefer to keep the ones in charge because if they didn’t pay them the bonuses, those exec’s would leave. And then who would run the company?!?!

    • mianfr - Mar 21, 2012 at 11:30 AM

      Actually they fired all of those executives at all but four firms.

  10. hushbrother - Mar 21, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    I think Jonny 5 is right, they plan to use him in a Tony Fossas role. And then if he’s effective maybe flip him to a team desperate for a LOOGY.

  11. frankvzappa - Mar 21, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    Craig Calcaterra’s annual cheap shot column?

    • Old Gator - Mar 21, 2012 at 10:54 AM

      What’s cheap about it? Given Willis’ production, or lack of it, it’s a perfectly legitimate question. If you’ve got such a problem with Craig, why not just spend all your time on Mike Lupica’s or Dan Shaughnessy’s twitter feeds?

      • frankvzappa - Mar 21, 2012 at 3:14 PM

        That one may have gone over your head a bit, cochise. It was just some good natured ribbing with a wink to the TJ Simers thing yesterday. I like Craig’s take on things most of the time, and non-science geek references usually too, so I will continue to hang around, but thanks for your concern, old boy.

      • Old Gator - Mar 21, 2012 at 9:56 PM

        If I missed the joke, sorry. I accept the rebuke in the interest of restoring perspective.

  12. deathmonkey41 - Mar 21, 2012 at 10:00 AM

    Willis should have followed the Korean’s lead and band the Orioles from his list of potential teams. It’s probably better being unemployed.

    • The Baseball Idiot - Mar 21, 2012 at 12:14 PM

      I didn’t know the Koreans had a band, or who the lead is.

      But I’ll bet they have a fantastic rhythm section.

      • deathmonkey41 - Mar 21, 2012 at 12:47 PM

        Yes, that were called Loudness… no wait, they were Japanese. I give up.

  13. Jonny 5 - Mar 21, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    What’s bigger news? The Yankees stole away a Philly prize! The bastards! Meredith Marakovits we will miss you. sniff sniff… Stupid Yes network.

    • Kevin S. - Mar 21, 2012 at 10:21 AM

      Just another bunch of Yankee wannabes, Jonny.

      • Jonny 5 - Mar 21, 2012 at 10:31 AM


  14. joeflaccosunibrow - Mar 21, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    Willis goes to the Orioles knowing that they stick a fork in all careers. (ie: Sosa, Guerro, Glenn Davis, Derek Lee, Palmeiro…..)

    • joeflaccosunibrow - Mar 21, 2012 at 10:23 AM

      Add Kevin Millwood…

      • Jonny 5 - Mar 21, 2012 at 10:32 AM

        Kevin Gregg

      • Old Gator - Mar 21, 2012 at 10:42 AM

        Gregg showed up with the fork in place. If you were a Feesh fan, you’d probably believe he was born with it.

  15. homelanddefense - Mar 21, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    Oswalt had plenty of suitors. Him not wanting to take 5 million to play somewhere like Boston isn’t the same as not finding a job

  16. cup0pizza - Mar 21, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    Based on comments from Mark & Jonny 5, seems profanity is just fine on this site.

    • Jonny 5 - Mar 21, 2012 at 10:59 AM

      Contrary to popular belief “Bastard” is not a profane word actually. It’s the advent of Political correctness where descriptive words commonly used to define people (probably not the best thing to do anyway) have been portrayed as profane when they actually aren’t.

      • The Baseball Idiot - Mar 21, 2012 at 12:16 PM

        What’s your definition of ‘bastard’?

      • Jonny 5 - Mar 21, 2012 at 12:19 PM

        It’s not my definition, It’s ownership is the English language.

      • The Baseball Idiot - Mar 21, 2012 at 4:52 PM

        That explanation works for a lot of other words. I’ll bet you would object to many of them.

        Why do you deny others the same right?

      • Old Gator - Mar 21, 2012 at 9:58 PM

        Whereabouts is he denying anyone any rights?

  17. cup0pizza - Mar 21, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    Craig is a bitter, sanctimonious low-rent hack of a writer. Give him a break.

    • Old Gator - Mar 21, 2012 at 1:30 PM

      I don’t know whether profanity is fine here or not, but you prove beyond a shadow of a doubt every time you excrete another post that there’s definitely an open-door policy on imbecility.

  18. metalhead65 - Mar 21, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    . I know your stats will tell you otherwise but aside from a couple of bad outings he was not that bad for the reds last year. he just had terrible luck and no run support. when dusty took him out after 5 he was usually 1 or 2 runs down and the reds went on to win after he left or were ahead and lost after he left. again he had a couple of lousy games and a couple more when dusty left him in 1 more inning than he should have since he really could only go 5 innings but the toothpick thought it would be good to squeeze 1 more inning where he then lost it. remember according to you guys wins are not everything.

  19. mianfr - Mar 21, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    I guess the one thing you can say is that he’s intimidatingly bad…

    I remember a Yankee game against the Diamondbacks two years ago where the D-Train was pitching. He was beyond awful. He was throwing pitches all over the place, kept walking the bases loaded, etc. I couldn’t have fared worse than he did on the mound, that bad.

    Eventually it kind of got into the Yankees hitters’ heads… Alex Rodriguez was plainly more scared of getting hit by an errant pitch from some guy who had no idea how to throw a baseball than he was about the repercussions of not getting a hit.

    The Yankees ended up losing the game.

    So… I mean the D-Train has that going for him. “Scary bad.”

  20. steelymcbeam6 - Mar 21, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    Maybe hoping they will catch lightning in a bottle and have a great season??

  21. The Baseball Idiot - Mar 21, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    Hope springs eternal.

    It’s spring.

    What’s more eternal than baseball and spring training.

  22. raindog - Mar 21, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    From your colleague, Short, “but the 30-year-old had a .127 batting average against and a 20/2 K/BB ratio against left-handed batters.” Sounds like a good enough reason to me.

  23. sawxalicious - Mar 22, 2012 at 1:42 AM

    Anyone signing with the Orioles is accepting a minor league contract…they just happen to play against major league teams…

  24. Kevin Gillman - Mar 24, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    This is just my opinion, but I believe it’s because Dontrelle is cheap, and well, both Damon and Oswalt are high maintenance. Especially Oswalt in this case. Plus I am sure GMs do not want to deal with Boras, and Willis can easily come to any team, just to still have a chance at success.

    Just my two cents.

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