So that’s how the Dontrelle Willis Era ends in Detroit? With him being designated for assignment? Who thought he’d be the Tigers’ version of Brian Glynn*?
Dontrelle Willis.jpg

In my post from Saturday in which a I speculated about the fallout from Max Scherzer‘s recall, an anonymous commenter was stunned — to the point of calling me a dufus! — that I didn’t include Dontrelle in the list of possible roster moves. I suppose that’s fair.

But here are the two reasons why I thought the Tigers would stick with Willis come hell or high water:

  • His contract. The Tigers played all kinds of shenanigans with the roster over the past two seasons to make sense of Dontrelle and I thought that after Mike Ilitch ate the contracts of Damion Easley and Gary Sheffield, he wouldn’t have the stomach for Willis’s $12 million deal.

  • The Nate Robertson trade. This one still puzzles me. Tell me again what the Tigers got in that deal? A fringe minor leaguer and the honor of paying virtually all of Nate’s contract. Did the Tigers honestly believe that Willis would be a more solid bet for this season over Robertson? Don’t you think they’re wishing they had that one back?

The Tigers are now on the hook for about $22 million to pay two left-handed pitchers that aren’t even in their organization.

At the risk of sounding like Jim Price, I’ll say it again: Wow. In all, the Tigers got a pair of wins from Dontrelle Willis in his three-ish seasons in Detroit.

I’m drawing a blank about another high-profile Tigers acquisition that flamed out as badly as Willis. Sure, Juan Gonzalez didn’t put up MVP numbers in his one season but he hit .289 with 22 homers, and is hardly in the class of the D-Train.

Nope. This has got to be the worst.

What’s next for Willis? It’s tough to see there being much of a market for him. The only scenario that makes sense is that he goes to a club that has a pitching coach with reputation for reclamation projects. Perhaps the Cardinals’ Dave Duncan.

Or maybe he goes to a team that’s so awful — Houston? Arizona? Milwaukee? Pittsburgh? — that they can afford to take a risk. Or maybe he signs with his hometown Oakland A’s for a chance to put it together in front of friends and family.

Or, as the Free Press‘ John Lowe writes, “there’s bound to be talk now that Willis — a talented hitter — should start over somewhere as an outfielder.”

I guess.

If he’d even been only half as good as his best seasons with the Marlins, Dontrelle Willis could’ve owned the City of Detroit.

Instead, we’re left to think about what could’ve been and hope that a man who’s still only 28 can put it together again.

*You don’t remember Brian Glynn? He was the Hartford Whalers’ throw-in in the trade that brought Brendan Shanahan to the Red Wings. Glynn had about as much an impact on the Wings (zero games played) as Willis had on the Tigers.