Hey Willie How About Dontrelle Willis

Updated: May 8, 2006



Fantasy and Reality Collide

more than ever

in Baseball

Very specifically. Not as in days gone by and never more than in the age of the ever evolving Internet. The phenomenon of Rotisserie Baseball Leagues first conceived in the 1960s has become an industry unto itself. With hundreds or is it thousands of Leagues around the world. A hoard of Websites to cater to fantasy players and more guide books and software to purchase then you can shake a baseball bat at.

The new book “Fantasyland” by veteran sports journalist Sam Walker chronicles it all. Walker basically took a year off from his job reporting for the Wall Street Journal to immerse himself in fantasy baseball and play “full time” in one of the leading Rotisserie Leagues and needless to say write a book about it all.

What is most striking about Walker’s tome is first that Rotisserie League gurus, a group of men young and old who are minor maybe major deities among fantasy players, have taken the analysis of the actual players in the Major Leagues to heights and details never imagined by the 30 MLB clubs and their extensive organizations.

Most striking of all …..

By now almost all not all if we include those who do it serendipitously, all the 30 MLB teams factor fantasy analysis of players into their decisions. Some have hiring the legends of Rotisserie Baseball to work for them part even full time.

What Rotisserie Baseball affectionados have going for themselves that not even the NY Yankees or Boston Red Sox do is an all consuming passion for the statistics and nuances of Baseball which were always more of a factor in Baseball than in any other sports. But never like now.

They make even Billy Beane GM of the Athletics made famous in the often referenced classic “Moneyball” which toils in much the same field but from the perspective of a Major League organization, “Moneyball” is beginning to look quaint. Certainly dated compared to what is out there.

Let’s get one thing Straight

Nobody who takes all this with proper seriousness believes any amount of data can isolate very accurately any one very specific player’s performance for the next upcoming season in extreme detail and in ways that produce radically different results than more “traditional” reviews of looking at a players career to date but …

This new level of bewildering analyses based on often brilliant insights to the meaning of minuscule elements in the game such as how often is a particular batter will swing at a first pitch with runners in scoring position, 2 outs and a Lefty pitching AND how often is that player successful can be very useful information for the batter, pitcher and BOTH teams.

To state the obvious if in over 100 at bats over his MLB career in this situation first ball hitting this player has a 73% of either scoring runs or making out everyone wants to know that and today everyone does

Right now all this originally Fantasy League data is kept in most dugouts in ever fatter binders which managers and coaches constantly reference. And most players themselves have something comparable a “book” about themselves buried in their lockers or more likely hidden somewhere out of view in their homes.

No computers are not allowed in dugouts yet

during Games

but as sure as the sun rises the day is Coming

Fans in the Stands at the newest ballparks in the priciest seats may not have to wait that long lots of this material is likely to be available to them on a flat screen at their seats for those who want. Same deal at home where a fan can put down their money and subscribing to various Websites. But consolidation is coming …

Right now ESPN.com provides fantasy analysis of all MLB players for those who want to subscribe to their special services. And for the future since there is little difference between a computer and the latest broadcast monitors fans will be able to buy packages from Cable, set up their own desired statistical and data profiles that will appear on the screen below the action on the field.

Just a little further on you will be able to bark questions in your voice at your monitor and a pleasing voice ( or Yogi Berra’s if you prefer ) will respond instantly to your every question about any player or situation such as the likelihood of a player to do this or that in this situation.

Now how does this possibly

bring us to Willie Randolph

and Dontrelle Willis and

the Mets need for another

starting pitcher.

Here’s how

First the disclaimer most but not all baseball pundits are skeptical that the Marlins will trade Willis now or that the Mets would be willing to make it attractive sitting pretty in First Place while also building for the future down in their farm system with such high potential prospects as Lastings Milledge who may or may not be the African American Ty Cobb.

But here is the Problem and

the equal Potential

Willis is pitching lousy this year so far on a team almost guaranteed to finish in last place that pays over half its players the $375,000 MLB minimum while Willis makes more than almost the rest of the team combined at $4+ Million this season. With this being or not being Willis’ last contract season with the Marlins depending on who you believe.

Moving up the Coast from Miami to New York

Mets GM Minaya and MGR Randolph

can say what they will but they see

wining it All this year

not monyana

And right now their big weakness potentially fatal is their starting rotation. And long before the first Rotisserie League was a gleam in some young fans eye everyone has always known PITCHING TRUMPS EVERYTHING else in Baseball.

And Young Willis was Amazing

2 of his 3 seasons

in the Bigs

and he already has a Ring

and knows what its like

to win it All and

radiate that Spirit

So here is the very insightful point

Whether Minaya and Randolph or their coaching and front office staffs ever admit to it we bet our credibility that they are pouring over every bit of data and statistical kernel and yes maybe running some stealth computer programs AND talking with some of the Fantasy Gurus trying to project how well Willis would likely do with this Mets team behind him the rest of this season and what can they reasonably offer in return IF Dontrelle Willis is worth it.

Whether or not it has

gone that far it will

in similar situations

in the future and

it is quite possible

even now

The Mets season

and Dontrelle Willis’ future

is being decided in front of

Computer Screens

It’s a New World

( it always is )

Whenever you want to reach us with comments or better yet an idea for a topic for the Box …….