Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Florida's Dontrelle Willis Is as Good as Gone

If Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria was so determined to keep SP Dontrelle Willis, vehemently insisting that "we are building a team here," then why did he sign Willis to a mere one-year contract? Rather than sign him to a multi-year pact, Loria agreed to a deal that allows Willis to collect his $4.35 million at the end of the year and walk. If Loria is to be believed, then he has some Florida swamp land to sell. Loria is under mounting pressure to find value for Willis before the end of the year, and paid out just enough to keep Willis under contract until mid-year, when his value will be at an all-time high. Thus, it should come as no surprise that every time Willis pitches, the VIP boxes are packed with scouts. Among the deals supposedly under consideration is a trade to Cincinnati for young third baseman Edwin Encarnacion. The deal makes sense for the Reds, who are desperate for pitching and whose speedster Ryan Freel has no place to play. If the deal goes through, a very big IF indeed, Freel would move to third, while Brandon Phillips would lay permanent claim to second base.