2014 Phillies Report Card: Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez
Miguel Gonzalez signed with the Phillies in 2013, on the day that the Phillies recorded their 73rd loss of the season — and it was only August 30th. There was no shortage of divergent opinions about where the Phillies had gone wrong, but pretty much everyone agreed that they weren’t headed anywhere good. So Gonzalez joining the team on a 3 year, $12 million deal (revised downward significantly due to health concerns that would prove to be prophetic) was refreshing for a team that doesn’t typically make a splash in the international market.
Even four months before Roy Halladay announced his retirement, it wasn’t difficult to envision a starting rotation in flux, with Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, themselves soon to be constant subjects of tedious trade speculation, the only veteran assets under long term control. Gonzalez’s signing, in a way, was a precursor to an offseason that, judged by the sub-basement standards Ruben Amaro Jr. had previously established, was pretty decent.
Maybe he wasn’t the elite prospect waiting in the wings; opinions diverged, as they typically do, about a Cuban defector whose previous opportunities for scouting were fewer and further between. Projections from mid-rotation starter to middle reliever were offered up. But as the putative first rung on the ladder back to contention, Gonzalez’s debut was eagerly anticipated. In more than a few analytical haunts, he was penciled in to the 2014 rotation.
Just as he was first in a cycle of reasonably acceptable offseason moves, Gonzalez was first on the list of 2014 disappointments, through no fault of his own. After struggling in a brief spring stint, his hopes for a major league rotation slot had evaporated, and shoulder problems led to a rehab stint which lasted only three appearances before “dead arm” concerns prompted a move to the bullpen. To his credit, Gonzalez stabilized in the minors, enough to get his cup of coffee in September.
The results were not great, but also were not nearly a proper basis on which to draw any conclusions — Miguel only threw 5 and 1/3rd innings, all in relief. He flashed a fastball that can sit 95 to 96 miles per hour, a proper foundation for success, and secondary offerings, an aspirational curve for one, that are promising but in need of more big league testing and refinement.
The Phillies retain every hope of making a starter out of Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, so this coming Spring will be something of a reboot of the previous, a mix of curiosity and rotation wish-casting. It would be nice to know, right now before the offseason begins in earnest, where Gonzalez fits in to the 2015 Phillies, but player health rarely cooperates with the organizational blueprints. The Phillies have two years and a vesting third year option remaining to recover the value of the contract.