Brewers manager Ron Roenicke just said that Dontrelle Willis has decided to retire.
A decision that, on the baseball merits, probably should’ve happened a long time ago given that he hasn’t pitched in the bigs since 2011 and hasn’t pitched effectively in the bigs since 2006.
But you can’t really fault a guy for keeping at it if people keep giving him a chance. And people have given D-Train a chance. He was signed by the Brewers last month. Before that he did stints of various lengths with the Giants, Angels, Orioles, Cubs, Phillies, Reds, Dbacks, Tigers and Marlins. He also pitched for the Fresno Grizzlies, Long Island Ducks and Bridgeport Bluefish in independent ball. It may simply be a case of him more or less running out of teams. Heck, this isn’t even his first time retiring.
Of course there was a time when Willis was considered to be the next big thing. And for a while he was a big thing. Between 2003 and 2006 he was 58-39 with a 3.44 ERA, which in those days amounted to an ERA+ of 121. He won 22 games in 2005, made the All-Star team and finished second in Cy Young voting. Then, in December 2007, he was traded by the Marlins to the Tigers alongside a fellow named Miguel Cabrera for Burke Badenhop, Frankie De La Cruz, Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller and Mike Rabelo. That ended up being one of the dumber and more lopsided trades in baseball history even with Willis falling off a cliff. With the idea that Willis would be an ace for years to come it was practically obscene.
And now he’s done. We think. He has said he was done before. But maybe this time it’ll stick. Who knows. All we know for sure is that, for now, one of baseball’s more interesting people is hanging it up.