Are the Angels Panicing? How Else to Explain Dontrelle Willis?

The announcement yesterday that the Angles have signed Dontrelle Willis can only be seen as pure panic in the front office of the team at the head of the list of 2013 disappointments.

Willis, now 31, has not pitched in the majors since 2011, despite having been handed chance after chance. Why? A look a Willis’ totally undistinguished career really makes one wonder why he continually is offered resurrection, only to fail miserably.

When one thinks back to his early years, there is an unwarranted assumption that he was a consistent winner. Not so.

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He came to the majors in 2003 with the then Florida Marlins, and had an outstanding rookie year. However, he had only one additional season in which he was over .500 or won more than 12 games.

He was 14-6 with a 3.30 ERA his rookie year, and in 2005 went 22-10 with a 2.63 ERA. Over the rest of his career, he has won 36 and lost 53. Over his other three seasons as a Marlins’ starter he won 10, 12, and 10 games, and had ERAs as high as 5.15. He then spent parts of three seasons in Detroit, going 2-8 with ERAs of 9.38, 7.49 and 4.98. He finished the 2010

year in Arizona, winning one and compiling a 6.75 ERA. In those three years with Detroit and Arizona, he walked 119 batters in 123 innings. Then, off to Cincinnati in 2011, he started 13 games, going 1-6 with an even 5.00 ERA.

And it got worse after than. In spring training with the Phillies in 2012, he failed to make the team, and again in 2013, the Cubs also sent him packing. In fact, 2013 saw him unable to find a spot in the “real” minors, and he hooked on with the Independent Atlantic League’s Long Island Ducks. In those later years, he also pitched in the Orioles’ and Giants’ organizations, but never well enough to get a call up.

Now 31, Willis’ greatest claim to fame was his inclusion in one of the most one-sided trades in baseball history. In December of 2007, he, along with one other player, was traded to the Tigers, for Andrew Miller, Cameron Maybin, Mike Rabelo, Eulogio de la Cruz, Dallas Trahern and Burke Badenhop. The guy who went along with him to Detroit? Miguel Cabrera.

His signing by the Angels can only be described as a far-fetched reach, with no chance of a return. A real panic move, but not the only one made yesterday by the Angels.

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