UPDATE: The Orioles have just announced Dontrelle Willis’ retirement.
The D-Train finally accepted what we all knew to be true: his time as an effective ballplayer had passed. But it was a good run for a while. For his career, Willis finishes with a career 72-59 record and a 4.17 ERA in 1221 and two-thirds innings. His first four years in the majors, however, were pretty nice. From 2003 through 2006, Willis was 58-39 with a 3.44 ERA.
While we all thought that was just a tease of good things left to come, it turned out to be the high water mark. Which is sad given how enjoyable it was to watch Willis in his prime, but sometimes that’s how it goes.
4:20PM: Dontrelle Willis continues to toil unsuccessfully in the Orioles’ system, but that time may be ending. Roch Kubatko tweets that Willis will not make his next start and is considering retirement.
It’s been a looong time since Willis was effective. Setting aside his train wreck minor league season this year — 8.53 ERA — he posted a 5.00 ERA and 57/37 K/BB ratio in 76 innings for the Reds last season. Over the past five seasons he has a 5.65 ERA in 404 innings.
Nothing personal, but Willis is deader than vaudeville at this point, and retirement seems like a pretty decent option.
Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times has an outstanding profile of former Rays prospect Brandon Martin, who is currently in jail for allegedly murdering three men nearly two years ago.
Fenno describes Martin’s erratic personality as he became a highly-touted baseball prospect who then descends into drug use. Friends described Martin has having completely changed into an unrecognizable person. Martin had repeated conflicts with friends and family such that police reports became common and he was placed in a psychiatric facility. Sadly, the facility only held him for less than 48 hours. He would allegedly murder three people upon returning home: his father, his brother-in-law, and a home security system contractor. Martin fled from police, who eventually caught up to him and subdued him with the help of a police dog.
Fenno’s profile is really worth a read, so click here to check it out.
Martin, 23, was selected by the Rays in the first round (38th overall) of the 2011 draft. He spent three years in the Rays’ system, reaching as high as Single-A Bowling Green.
On Sunday, Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes was ejected for throwing at Orioles third baseman Manny Machado‘s head. It was revenge for a slide of Machado’s which ended up injuring Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Barnes was suspended four games.
Hall of Famer and former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez said that if he were in Barnes’ shoes, he would have also thrown at Machado, although not necessarily at his head. Via ESPN’s Scott Lauber:
If I was pitching, I was going to drill Machado, as much as I love him. The only thing I would’ve done differently is probably bring the ball a little bit lower.
Martinez added that Machado “did not intend to hurt Pedroia. And I know that because I know Machado.” And he doesn’t think Barnes meant to throw at Machado’s head.
Martinez, of course, was certainly a pitcher who wasn’t afraid to pitch inside to batters and even hit a few of them when he felt he or his teammates had been wronged. This is an unfortunate part of baseball’s culture and the fact that it continues means that it will eventually result in someone being seriously hurt. It’s disappointing that Martinez isn’t willing to be a better role model now that his playing days are over. Martinez could have set an example for today’s pitchers by saying what Barnes did crossed a line. Getting a Hall of Famer’s seal of approval will only embolden players now when they feel they must defend their teammates’ honor.
The “tradition” of beaning batters to defend one’s teammates is anachronistic in today’s game, especially when Major League Baseball has made strides in so many other ways recently to protect players’ safety.