In some recess of his or her brain, every San Francisco Giants fan is thinking the same thing now that Dontrelle Willis has signed a Minor League contract with the club.

Does this mean someone in the current rotation is on his way out?

It’s natural.

Although rookie Madison Bumgarner’s name has popped up on the trade radar, it’s doubtful the Gents would be interested in moving the 20-year-old lefty, given he’s twirled a quartet of blinders since being called up at the end of June.

Plus, he’s cheap and under control for a while as a member of the 2007 draft class.

Even the most cynical skeptic of Brian Sabean has to believe the San Francisco general manager has been impressed with the No. 5 starter and recognizes the cost-benefit analysis weighs heavily against moving the kid.

On the other hand, more of the recent trade gossip has theorized that Jonathan Sanchez—a 27-year-old southpaw with electric stuff who can struggle with his control—would be the centerpiece of any high-profile move los Gigantes might be contemplating.

Well, lo and behold, the team just brought in a 28-year-old southpaw with electric stuff who can struggle with his control.

Granted, paralleling Sanchez’s lack of consistency with Willis’ Rick Ankiel act is a bit like comparing your water-retaining girlfriend to Kirstie Alley (the latter is FAR dumber), but you get the point.

The acquisition of a player who profiles similarly to one who’s been at the heart of trade rumors justifiably sets the fan base’s gears in motion.

Some are excited at the thought because they can almost imagine Corey Hart or Prince Fielder winging his way to the Bay Area, complete with shining white armor.

Others are sickened by the thought if they’re even acknowledging the splinter is there.

It’s there, though, it’s gotta be.

But let’s be reasonable about this before the full-on paranoia hits.

Dontrelle Willis has been an absolute catastrophe in cleats since something went horribly awry in the 2006 season.

The goofy native of Oakland had a career year in 2005 when he won 22 games while posting a 2.63 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP, seven complete games, five shutouts, and 55 walks in 236.1 innings.

He was an All-Star, finished 11th in the National League Most Valuable Player voting, and was the runner-up to the NL Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter.

One more key stat—Willis hit only eight batters in all those frames.

In ’06, some of the numbers still looked pretty good. He notched a 3.87 ERA with four complete games, a shutout, and a 6.4 K/9 (only a tenth off his ’05 rate) in 223,1 IP. But his walks shot up to 83 and his WHIP bloomed to 1.42.

More distressingly, the D-Train side-swiped 19 hitters.

From his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2003 through 2005—a span covering 594 innings—Dontrelle Willis hit 19 batters.

Then he hit the same number during one 162-game stretch.

The wheels were officially wobbling.

They came off in 2007 as the bad numbers went up and the good ones went down. A move to Detroit in 2008 as a throw-in part of the Miguel Cabrera deal didn’t help, and 2009 brought more of the same.

This year started in the same fashion, so the Tigers shipped Willis off to Arizona, where the Diamondbacks experimented for about 22 innings until kicking Willis to the curb.

That’s a very thorough way of saying the dude isn’t even close to being an option at the moment.

A brief way would be to mention his 56 free passes in 65.2 innings this year.

Nah, if I had to guess, Dontrelle is in the system on a wing and a prayer to see if he can find himself enough to be a help out of the bullpen.

Ever since Dan Runzler went down during that awkward at-bat, the firemen have a decidedly right-handed lean—only Jeremy Affeldt brings it from the south side and he’s been Rickety Cricket thus far.

The Gents are getting desperate for lefty relief and this move hints of desperation.

Maybe the big southpaw has been signed with dreams of reinforcing the starting rotation.

It’s possible, but even so he’d still have to right the ship well enough to be a reliable plan B by the July 31 trade deadline.

In two weeks.

Judging from the last few years, that would be nothing short of a flippin’ miracle.

The Bay Area worked its magic on Pat Burrell, another ballplayer who spent his youth within driving distance of the City.

Perhaps it will do the trick for Dontrelle Willis.

But the odds are too long for this to be a sign of things to come…


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