Hopping on the D-train.

Hopping on the D-train.

It will most likely be the most minor transaction that Theo Epstien and Jed Hoyer make all winter. It has a 90-95% chance of being irrelevant. It's actually already been beaten to death. And yet I still can't help but smile at the Cubs signing of Dontrelle Willis. He signed a minor league deal. He's not even invited to big league spring training. But he'll get a chance to pitch himself into an invite and into their plans should Mr. Willis turn his career around. And I love it.

 

When the deal was announced, people took to Twitter like a starving comedian at an open mike made out of ham. All the lame ass jokes were used.

 

"Championship!"

 

" hey, it's like we got Matt Clement, Alfonseca, AND WILLIS! Boy we won that trade."

 

"Any more 2003 Marlins we can sign? Is Chris Redman available?"

"Finally found that left handed bat to hit behind Castro..."

 

Okay.....that last one was pretty funny. But all the usual BS was thrown out there. And this was by people who have "Avid Cub fan" in their twitter bios. You can imagine what the detractors, the people at the Score, or any one of the 47 White Sox fans in the city were saying.

When the Cubs traded Willis I had no idea who he was. Neither did any of you. But he was a blast to watch pitch. The unorthodox delivery, the high leg kid, the addictive smile. He made baseball fun. I kinda thought from the beginning that he was pitching over his skiis when he had all that success. 14 wins in his rookie year and 22 in 2005. Watching him pitch I always thought he'd have a career in the pen. Not just as a Loogy but as a reliever workhorse. But he lost his way in Detroit, was never going to find it in a Dusty Cincy, and god knows what happened in Baltimore. He looked shot. He very well could be.

But as much as I thought Willis was over performing in the early 2000's, I'm just as convinced he's not finished now.  And Loogy's are maybe the most unpredictable, hardest commodity to find. The Cubs went through young power arms Scott maine, Jon Gaub, and Jeff Beliveau like crap through a goose and yet 70 somethings like Aurthur Lee Rhodes and Darren Oliver continue to pitch in the bigs. Donnie Veal went from waiver wire pickup to most dominant pitcher in the White Sox pen. It's entirely possible that Willis can find himself usable come August.

There will be those who think this is just an attempt to sign a "name" to draw up interest. There will also be those that say (incorrectly) that he's taking the place of some young up and coming prospect who could actually help the team. There will be those who think we shouldn't waste our time. Spare me. Dontrelle Willis' tweets to Jon Heyman showed a man going into this with his eyes wide open, aware of the long road ahead of him, and just grateful for the opportunity. How do you not root for that?

I've said it numerous times, but it bears repeating. When you sign up for the long term rebuilding plan, you get to enjoy your short term filler unconditionally. And while the D-train's comeback ranks outside the top 10, 25, or even 50 of Cub concerns, I have it circled. And look forward to nagging Arguello about him during his minor league recaps this season.

 

 

Filed under: Uncategorized

Tags: Cubs, Dontrelle Willis.

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  • I hope he makes it back. Hard not to root for him. My hope is that he can become a LOOGY.

    And btw, I knew exactly who Dontrelle Willis was in the minors :) Even thought he was an absolute steal when they got him in the 8th round. But, then, I've always been a prospect/draft geek.

  • Now if we can also get Ricky Nolasco back...

  • In reply to clarkaddison:

    The Marlins would ask for Castro for Ricky.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    On second thought, I think many Marlin fans ( all 35 of them) would protest if they had a Castro on their team.

  • #nerdflu

  • In reply to felzz:

    haha! I've got it pretty bad today. This is the worst flu I've had in years.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    The undergrads come back tomorrow.

    This place is going to be Poveglia Island.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    LOL!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Get well wishes John.

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    Thanks! I hope the worst of it was yesterday. Fever went to 101 and I woke up drenched in sweat.

  • Remember when the Cubs had Josh Hamilton for a few minutes and sold him off for $50,000 to the Reds!

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    They never had Hamilton! They going to use their pick, and had agreed to trade the pick to the Reds for cash, but the rules say the pick still shows up as the original team....man this is such old news.

  • Teams were not allowed to trade or sell picks. The Cubs actually drafted Hamilton, and then sold him to the Reds for cash. He WAS Cubs property for a short while.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    When teams trade picks they make the trade (call it what you like) without knowing who they are agreeing to pick. It wasn't like the Cubs could have changed their mind after they found out it was Hamilton they wanted.

    The Cubs were obligated to trade the Reds Hamilton and never really had him.

    Once again, such really old news.

  • I agree, this is such an old, non-story. People keep dragging this out but they're not aware of the circumstances. Hamilton had sat out for 3 years with substance abuse problems and basically had never spent any time above high A ball. NOBODY wanted him, not even TB, who left him off their 40 man after making him a 1st round picking and spending years developing him.

    Every single year in the Rule 5 draft we have teams draft players and then send them to other teams for cash. Those are pre-arranged deals. If your team is not going to use the pick it's an easy way to make a quick $25,000 (players cost $25,000 to draft, so the new team gives you $50k to cover the expenses and you pocket the rest).

    Hamilton only had one particular spot he could even go and have any shot at succeeding, and that was Cincy, who agreed to hire a family friend to basically baby sit Hamilton for the entire year, 24 hours a day. His performance was a shock to everyone, including the Reds, who promptly sold high on him and sent him to Texas for pitching prospects.

    The Cubs only "had" him as a technicality. He was never a Cub, they didn't draft him and change their minds 5 minutes later, etc.

    Hamilton is an excellent player but is a high maintenance guy. Texas is more upset his production is gone than the personality.

  • Josh would have never made it with day baseball.

  • In reply to BIG G:

    Yeah, those White Sox & Cardinals fans would have sold him heroin and bought him beers after every home day game.......but those 70 HR's per season at Wrigley would have been worth watching.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    This revisionist look at the Josh Hamilton situation needs to stop.

    The Cubs were being built to win in 2007 (when they made the playoffs) and under orders of the Trib they went on their famed FA binge. They did not have room on the roster for a kid who hadn't even played full-season class A ball, was out of baseball for a year, and had all kinds of off the field issues. This year's Cubs? Yeah, maybe they hang on to him and stick him in CF. But not those Cubs. The never intended on picking Hamilton because they didn't have room on their roster for a project.

    It was the Reds who wanted to take a flyer and they got him for what? 50K? ANY team could have had him and any team would have wanted him for that much if they knew he could play to the level he did that year. This was not a slam dunk. It was not a no-brainer. If it were, if anybody knew he was going to be this good, the Cubs would have kept him and teams would have offered a lot more than 50K to get him.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I still would not want Hamilton. As good as he is, he needs adult supervision when not playing. It would be like paying hundreds of millions of $$ to a talented little leaguer who's parents drop him off for the game.

  • In reply to BIG G:

    That's why Eckersley wasn't good with the Cubs.

  • By the time of the draft, there were more than one team interested in him. Or at least the Reds were afraid that there were. Otherwise, they just would have waited until it was their pick and choose him then.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Not really. Teams do this all the time to "insure" they get their pick. Think about it, for $50,000 they could get the pick they wanted for sure, cheap insurance if they get a player that they want on their 25 man roster for the whole season.

  • It costs teams the same $50k to "buy" a draft pick in the Rule 5 Draft whether it's the 3rd pick overall or the 30th pick overall. It's not like football where it costs more in draft picks/talent to move up in the draft the higher the pick. If Cincy (or any team) wants a guy, they just call every team and find out which teams are open to selling their pick, then make the deal with the highest picking team to make sure you get the guy you're targeting.

    Another thing about Hamilton, he needed to go to a smaller city with less pressure and media (and temptations) than going to Chicago or NY or Philly, Boston, L.A., etc.

    Cincy was a good fit for him at the time and the only team that already had a connection to him with a employee who was also a family friend of Hamilton's.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I'm sure there were teams interested but only one was willing to invest 50K to make sure they got him, which only shows how uncertain his future was. 50K is chump change for a player of Hamilton's talent. The fact is he was a long shot project.

    I think Cubs undeservedly get a lot of flak for this, but what about the Rays? They didn't protect him and kept a roster spot open so they could draft an OF named Ryan Goleski in the Rule 5. And the Rays didn't have to keep Hamilton in the majors.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yes, but as we all know, John, the Rays GM Andrew Friedman is one of the worst in all of baseball, so...

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Good point. That guy has no idea what he's doing :)

  • I would like nothing better than to see D-Train get his act together enough to be wearing Cubbie Blue come August end of season call up. When the guy was on back a decade or so ago - he we never boring.

    If he were to be a solid lefty out of the Pen next season,... that would be kind of fun too.

  • And I'd like to point out that I knew exactly who Dontrelle Willis was when he was with the Cubs too. And I'm nowhere near the geek that John is.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Is there a record or a memo printed off by you knowing Willis back then?......over 125 players are in a Cubs system each year......I bet even the top Cub followers cannot name 100 of them on paper.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Yes, actually there is. I went down to Wrigley Field and took a quiz. They had a notary there. It's pretty darn official.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Notary!...then what was said by you was legally truthful, honest and correct.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Are there any records or memos printed off by anyone for what you claim to be true and say all the time? I didn't think so, you never provide links to anything, just your made up info.

  • Heck, lets bring back Rich Hill while we're at it. No, seriously.

  • I believe this talk about "Big" city versus "Small" city profile for a player is a bunch of B.S.......players have to play in all these cities in the season.....pressure?....that is part of baseball life to deal with.............besides, Cinncy has bars ...open night and day for their fans................Arlington is near Dallas....lots of country bars there....and now Josh is in Southern Calif., filled with many bars, night clubs, etc.......some talk like Chicago is the only city with bars and temptations......we must be a real "Sin City" to some people......if a player does not have self control over themselves with booze, drugs, and women, then they are weak in character.........Cubs took a chance on Dolis in the Rule 5 draft....but Hamilton was not good enough to stick around?.....a #1 prospect ?...........no doubt Chicago is filled with many addiction centers and doctors who could have guided Hamilton as he sat on the bench and pinch hit and work his way in the Cubs line up.....bottom line is that Jim Hendry and the Cubs dropped the ball and missed a great deal....and then go selling Hamilton off to a team within their division for $50,000.

    I'm sorry, this mistake ranks up there with the Lou Brock trade.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Man - the more you talk the more everyone knows how clueless you really are....

  • C & A, You are an expert about what "clueless" is all about.

    I must really get your goat.

    Now go back to your shine box.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Okay boys. Both of you play nice. Pushing the line here. Keep it about baseball.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Not sure what C & A is, but I just read hear, and have learned that most everyone wished you would go away. So I have no problem calling you out when you say something that is so far off base.

    Now the shine box line again....please tell me what that is from, because if it is from the movie I think it is from, the guy who said the line gets killed in the movie, with 2 guys jumping all over him....which could be a comparison to how everyone jumps on you when you speak on here.

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    In reply to CubsTalk:

    That draft was not about baseball. That was people in the Reds organization who cared about Hamilton trying to save his life. People pretty much assumed his playing days were over. There is zero good reason to complain about that.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Whether or not people liked Jim Hendry, it was hard to deny he was a good guy, sometimes to fault if that's possible. It wouldn't surprise me if much of this was about giving Josh Hamilton the best chance to succeed.

    One thing is certain to me, it was a lot more complex a situation then the hindsight 20/20 folks care to admit.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Lets say Josh's playing days were over as you said. He would have been a free agent after getting let go by the Rays. That did not happen. . No, I really think the Reds knew about another team who would have drafted Josh before they got a chance. So they ask the Cubs a favor. And you are also saying the Rays did not care about Hamilton. Do you have knowledge of this? If they did not care, they would have waived Josh. It was not saving his life. It was taking a chance that a #1 prospect could rebound from his problems. The Reds striked Gold when Josh hit 19 HR's. The Rangers then traded for him for Volquez. Great deal for both sides then.

    To me, Cubs missed out on one of the greatest players now in MLB.

    Who knows, maybe Lenny Castillo can be the all time saves leader when his career is over.

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    In reply to CubsTalk:

    All I'm going to say: this was a man's life on the line. There's really no amount of baseball games that is equivalent to that.

    Johnny Narron was Hamilton's coach when he was a teenager. He was also Hamilton's accountability partner when he joined the Reds. In one of those remarkable coincidences, the Reds manager back then was Johnny's brother, Jerry. That's the connection that brought him to the Reds, and it was a near perfect situation for him to turn his life around. Baseball? Eh, if he hits, great.

    Now consider the alternative: do you really think it would have been a good idea to bring a guy who almost killed himself with drugs and alcohol to work at a place where he left the office at 5 o'clock or so every day and then walked into Wrigleyville?

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    If that is your criteria, then they made much worse mistakes than either the Brock trade or the Hamilton sale.

    In 1999 alone

    They passed up taking Pujols in the first round

    They passed up taking Pujols in the second round

    They passed up taking Pujols in the third round

    They passed up taking Pujols in the fourth round

    They passed up taking Pujols in the fifth round

    They passed up taking Pujols in the sixth round

    They passed up taking Pujols in the seventh round

    They passed up taking Pujols in the eigth round

    They passed up taking Pujols in the ninth round

    They passed up taking Pujols in the tenth round

    They passed up taking Pujols in the eleventh round

    They passed up taking Pujols in the twelfth round

    And the amazing thing is, every other team in baseball made the same 12 mistakes in the same year.

    Talk about stupid.

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    there's no way getting Alfonseca in that trade was a win. that guy was awful.

  • Until he came along I had only associated David McCallum with a "Sixth Finger".

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    There's also Count Tyrone Rugen.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I did not know that! Once again, I am enriched by my visit here. Feeling better I hope??

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    Actually no. Thanks for asking. Felt better this morning, but looks like it's going to be another long night.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    My name Inigo Montoya. Ju killed my father. Prepare to die.

  • Uh-oh. It looks as if people on the outside are starting to notice as well:

    MLB.com's lead story at midnight central time:
    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130105&content_id=40861448&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mL

    It is even written by a reporter who admits elsewhere to being a Cardinals fan...

    I know McJedstein and Company prefer operating under the radar, so I would imagine the attention they've gotten recently might bug them somewhat. (Then again, at least they aren't getting bashed for not getting immediate results...)

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    Do the Padres have another corner infielder we can Fleece?

  • In reply to Barry Bij:

    Padres GM is saying to Theo....Fool me once (Rizzo for Cashner), shame on you...fool me twice (Headley for ????)....shame on me.

  • Saw on the news that the Flu is at a epidemic levels in 41 states.....

    Top Ten Ways to avoid the Flu....

    10 - Wear a paper bag over your head if you watch reruns of 2012 games of Alex Hinshaw or Jason Berken on the Cubs mound.

    9 - Ask Cardinal fans to have them stick their middle finger down your mouth.

    8 - Spend time washing your hands while Lenny Castillo is on the mound.

    7 - Ask indoor stadium facility managers when was the last time they changed air filters in the stadium.

    6 - Ask the Astros to turn off the stadium A/C in the dead heat of summer during the games.

    5 - Wear a mask to avoid airborne viruses that comes from the mouth of shine box guys with really long blog names.

    4 - Try a bowl of homemade chicken soup made by Theo.

    3 - Have 16 large cups of beer and sit in a sauna with a bucket.

    2 - Avoid toilet seats that have White Sox logos on them.

    1 - Drink plenty Cubs Blue Kool-Aid.

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