When the Phillies signed Dontrelle Willis to a one-year, $1 million deal back in December, I remember being pleasantly surprised at Ruben Amaro Jr.'s strategy to buy low on someone without any substantial risk involved. Despite being far removed from his days as a dominating starter, Willis could have some value as a relief pitcher, after all.
But, that is not meant to be, as he was released from the team on Friday morning, according to CSNPhilly, following a rough-and-tumble spring that did not inspire confidence with the front office. Even though spring training stats don't really mean too much, they could not have been happy with his lack of command and the ability to strike anyone out.
His spring training line in three games: 1-1 record, no strikeouts with a 16.87 ERA and 3.38 WHIP while allowing five hits, four walks and five runs in 2 2/3 innings.
The decision isn't a terribly surprising one, as the team didn't have much money sunk into the investment that was Dontrelle Willis, who was already going to have a fairly diminished role in the bullpen. But that's the beauty of these kinds of signings: There is practically zero risk involved. If they fail, no big deal, but if they are a success, then you look like a genius.
On one hand, I'm sad to see him go, because I was really hoping he could reclaim some of the magic from earlier in his career, and his story (had he been successful) would have been an interesting one to watch. Plus, had he proved to be worth his salt, it would have greatly reduced the stress on fellow southpaw Antonio Bastardo.
On the other hand, I'm glad that I don't need to suffer through those appearances when Charlie Manuel inexplicably lets him face four right-handed hitters in a row. So, you could say that I'm torn.
With his departure, there is a vacancy in the bullpen as the second lefty behind Bastardo. While incumbent Joe Savery and youngster Jake Diekman are probably the favorites at this point, the Phillies could look towards veteran lefty Mike Gonzalez, who is currently a free agent.