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Dontrelle “Rasputin” Willis to sign a minor league deal with the San Francisco Giants

Jan 10, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

Some guys never get a shot at the big leagues. Or if they do, it’s far too short a shot and they are overlooked for the rest of their careers, exiled to Triple-A or worse. You gotta make the best of that shot. You may never get another one.

Unless you’re Dontrelle Willis, of course, in which case you seemingly get a couple dozen shots and will until you just don’t fell like trying anymore:

Willis was last signed by the Angels. That went nowhere. Before that he was with the the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League. The Cubs signed and released him after he threw seven pitches for them. Before that he was retired. Before that he was with the Orioles where he stunk and where he got into all sorts of arguments and controversies with the team. The Phillies released him before that. Before that he was with the Reds, who gave him his last chance to pitch in the big leagues. That was 2011, when he posted a 5.00 ERA in 73.2 innings over 13 starts.

He’s had two really good seasons. One of them was nearly 11 years ago, the other nine. 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. And again, he hasn’t even gotten a significant MINOR league look since 2011.

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 (at least if you don’t ask the Orioles). But there has been nothing — literally nothing — positive to be seen in his pitching in a decade. No indication whatsoever that he can help a ball club. How does he still get chances when so many other pitchers don’t?

Probably like this:

A nice thought. But people have been having that same thought for years. It never pans out.

  1. kylewo - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:33 PM

    LOL. Best headline I’ve read in a while. That guy was a witch, or sugar is a natural antidote for cyanide. Whichever.

  2. cackalackyank - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:35 PM

    Wow. Where is Pedro Martinez right now?

    • dirtyharry1971 - Jan 10, 2014 at 6:00 PM

      Pedro just joined TNA pro wrestling, he’s a manager I believe.

  3. schlom - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    He’s left-handed – isn’t it just as simple as that?

    Or you could do the Player A vs. Player B comparison (through Age 29):

    A: 72-69, 1221.2 IP, 101 ERA+, 1.79 SO/BB
    B: 34-54, 700 IP, 87 ERA+, 1.54 SO/BB

    A is Willis, B is Jamie Moyer

    • dadawg77 - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:11 PM

      plus it is a minor league contract. So if it doesn’t work out there is no loss. If it does its cheap production.

    • clydeserra - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:49 PM

      Yet Jamie Moyer would out perform Willis THIS YEAR.

      Seriously though, Moyer was sent down to AAA and figured it out by the time he was 32. His age 29 anf the beginning of 30 seasons was in AAA, his k/9 jumped and he was back in the majors by the time he was 30. his ERA+s were 130, 105, 92, 126, 113 etc.

      Nice cherry picking though.

      • schlom - Jan 10, 2014 at 3:14 PM

        Here’s another left-handed pitcher, age 25-28 seasons:

        19-24, 55 GS, 299 IP, 75 ERA+, 1.49 BB/SO

        That was Scott Kazmir before last season. Obviously GM’s are optimists and trying to catch lightning in a bottle.

      • clydeserra - Jan 10, 2014 at 11:25 PM

        cool find, bro!

        So lets ignore the the 700 innings he pitched before his age 25 season with an ERA+ of over 120.

        lets also ignore the fact that instead of going to independent ball and sucking, he actually got better and at age 29 he pitched 150 average innings. bb/9 at 2.7 an k/9 at 9

        stop comparing willis to others. it is not illuminating

  4. weaselpuppy - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    Reeallly hoping Craig is inferring the Rasputin-like quality that Dontrelle is unkillable….and not a mystic or that he’s gifted in a way that would make Milton Berle also part of the inference…

    • genericcommenter - Jan 10, 2014 at 4:22 PM

      100 years from now, young Russian women will be studying his member preserved in a jar.

  5. dirtyharry1971 - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    Jays should have taken a shot with this guy, makes a lot of sense for both sides

    • rje49 - Jan 10, 2014 at 4:07 PM

      Yeah, I was going to say the rest of the AL East could use him for batting practice, but he’d have to throw strikes, so forget it.

  6. realitypolice - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:45 PM

    He’s left handed, still relatively young, and it doesn’t cost you virtually anything. Not that hard to figure out really.

  7. rje49 - Jan 10, 2014 at 4:05 PM

    The definition of “long shot”.

  8. jrd8523 - Jan 10, 2014 at 4:06 PM

    The Giants signed Dontrelle Willis in 2010. From that experience I’d assume they liked his attitude, and he’ll serve the purpose of being one of the veterans on the Grizzlies staff. I think people are people are putting a little too much thought into this. Petit, Escobar and Kickham would all be ahead of him as AAA depth, and i’m sure their would be more. Every year plenty of guys sign minor league contracts for the purpose of playing minor league baseball. You need veterans on your minor league teams too.

  9. wfs266 - Jan 10, 2014 at 10:06 PM

    Being elected to the Hall of Fame next year.

  10. roarfrom384 - Jan 10, 2014 at 10:42 PM

    If am in my prime years. If was in good shape, figured out my control and added 20 mph to my heater, I might be a great story too.

  11. braxtonrob - Jan 11, 2014 at 6:13 AM

    Dontrelle Willis, sort of a Mark Fidrych of our generation.

    I like him, (wish he was better, particularly when he pitched in the WBC.)

  12. mlblogsgiantgary - Jan 11, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    If you are a Giants fan, this will remind you of the Vogelsong signing. And how has that worked out? No risk, all potential reward and if they can get another effective lefty out of the pen, who may be there for spots starts, why the heck not? Besides, there are a few tough lefty bats in the NL West, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, CarGo, and if the D Train can help get those guys out late in games, so much the better. Go Giants!

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