Tuesday, June 1, 2010

D'Backs Acquire Dontrelle Willis From Detroit

The Detroit Tigers have traded pitcher Dontrelle Willis to the Arizona Diamondbacks for pitcher Billy Buckner.

Willis came to Detroit with much fanfare prior to the 2008 season along with Miguel Cabrera when they were acquired by the Florida Marlins. While Cabrera has lived up to his billing (he currently leads the AL in RBIs with 48) Willis has not.

During his tenure in Detroit, Willis went 2-8 with a 6.86 ERA. Willis was plagued with wildness and he walked 92 batters while striking out only 68. At one point, he was sent down to Lakeland, the Tigers Single A affiliate (the lowest rung in the minor leagues). It didn't do much good.

Complicating matters is that Willis has been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and has been put on the disabled list on two occasions as a result of it.

Anxiety disorder or not, Willis' pitching hasn't been that good since he won 22 games in 2005 with the Florida Marlins and finished runner up in the NL Cy Young balloting to Chris Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals. In his final season with the Marlins, Willis went 10-15 with a 5.17 ERA and gave up a league leading 118 earned runs.

The bright side is that Willis is 28 and still young enough to turn things around. He might not win 22 games again but if he won 11 games for the D'Backs this season it would be huge.

The D'Backs and Tigers essentially exchanged struggling pitchers. The Tigers now have Billy Buckner on their staff. (No, not that Bill Buckner). In three starts for the D'Backs in 2010, Buckner is 0-3 with an astronomical 11.08 ERA. I imagine he'll be placed in the Tigers bullpen.

The question remains as to whether D-Train will get back on track.

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