Like thieves under the cover of darkness, the advisers and the general manager pilfered Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez for the Philadelphia Phillies. What should you anticipate from our newest hurler?
Please, scroll down for this edition of Nitecap Insight: $12 Million Man.
This article represents the thinking of a baseball man in my opinion. Reading people is the answer to their decisions: past, present and future.
There will be a published storyline each week.
$12 Million Man:
Slotting between Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, Gonzalez will have an enlightening view every week.
Especially in baseball, investments are mostly unpredictable because the human body has limits strictly on an individual basis. Regarding temperature for example, 20 people could give you 20 different answers from cold to hot. The same is true with the longevity of a throwing arm, which is why teams insure their high-priced talent. Then, there are the off-the-field events of life, which does not make exclusions by profession.
The ticket from Cuba to freedom is expensive, and the cost for Gonzalez, 27, was two seasons without the adrenalin rush of competition. In January 2012, he was on the Artemisa Cazadores (Hunters) during his failed defection, essentially ending his Cuban career. His suspension was still active when he arrived in El Salvador before moving to Mexico earlier this year.
Although Gonzalez only fired six frames for Toros de Tijuana (Tijuana Bulls), he threw two bullpen sessions per week. That stated, reports vary on the number of scouts to critique him because some franchises sent many representatives. The Red Sox had eight pair of eyes on him and there were approximately 60 evaluators. The Dodgers, Cubs, Braves, Yankees, Rangers, Tigers, Padres and Mets were the other more visible attendees.
The majority of fans harbor an angry sentiment toward Ruben Amaro Jr., which they base mostly on the club’s record. However, a closer examination reveals a more studied appraisal, and his job is safe for that reason. The opinion here is that most of his work receives no trumpeting due to overlooked information.
If you knew many well-funded teams were interested in Gonzalez, you would laugh at a $12 million bid for three campaigns. So, it was no accident the general manager outsmarted other front offices with his $48 million guaranteed offer. This franchise does not allocate that exorbitant amount on a hurler after elbow surgery, a two-season absence and only six innings in Mexico.
Getting creative, they tendered top dollar and raised questions about the well-known bone chips after the physical. During a monthlong process, they renegotiated–$4 million per year is a lot of pesos–with a hungry player and his eager agent Jaime Torres, who represented Jose Contreras as well. With a cultivated baseball network, Amaro utilized his relationship advantage to sign this stud.
There are two hidden elements to consider in this three-year, $12 million contract with a vesting option for 2017. That additional tour could be the key to the agreement. In other words, it could greatly increase the value of the deal, which may explain why it was not made public and does not appear in Cot’s Baseball Contracts.
Performance bonuses are the other unknown on the arrangement, which could be substantial with innings pitched and games started. For example, John Lannan could have doubled his guaranteed 2013 amount with incentives. Meanwhile, that 2017 part of the contract could be $12 million after three productive summers. The total package could be worth $24 million to $36 million, which may explain the reluctance by the player and his agent to bolt.
For Joe Blanton in 2008, Adrian Cardenas (Single-A Clearwater) went to Oakland with pitcher Josh Outman (Double-A Reading) and outfielder Matthew Spencer (Clearwater). Cardenas (26), who retired after the 2012 campaign, writes about both sides of baseball: The game is fun and the business is serious. In other words, it’s the same as most other profit-making enterprises, where not everything is fair. It’s an industry, in fact, with a survivor mentality.
Logic and Initiations:
The pattern of recent Phils’ rookies in the rotation has been solid performances for their first tour. Vance Worley, JA Happ and Jonathan Pettibone are recent examples, and the first two have struggled elsewhere. The league caught up with them, and the head honcho saw it coming before unloading them. In other words, a fantastic career is not 32 appearances; however, you can expect Gonzalez to surpass the early successes of Worley, Happ and Pettibone.
The measurement for a professional encompasses many summers on the diamond. Looking back, Hamels, Lee, Roy Halladay and Kyle Kendrick have taken different paths to the same destination. The types of outcomes are the immediate ace, the late bloomer, the work in progress, the constantly improving staff leader and many others.
The Cuban Bull:
According to a combination of scouting reports including this linked one, the result is the red pinstripes capitalized on this opportunity with terms more to their liking. The reason for the multiple analyses is that the in-person variety was only for major league organizations. Videos were the tool of choice for everybody else, and those views were from seats behind home plate, greatly limiting the trajectory observation of most secondary tosses.
Trusting the pitch-calling judgement of the Mexican umpire, this writer is comfortable with the right-hander’s location. With his heater touching 96 mph, he proved his health is no longer an issue. Combining his last two campaigns for Havana (the province) to reach 32 starts and 212 2/3 innings, he went 14-11 with a 3.09 ERA. When it comes to high strikeout totals, however, this phenomenon hasn’t caught on in Cuba, explaining that specific question of Gonzalez’s ability more clearly. The translation is a manageable pitch count and an average of seven frames per effort.
The basic yardstick for plus pitches in the majors:
- One above-average offering equals making the jump from Triple-A to the MLB.
- Two makes you a successful hurler at the top level.
- Three produces a number one.
Gonzalez has an explosive fastball and a double-barreled curveball: One is north-south and the other is west-east. He changes speeds deftly from 77 to 94 mph, and he frequently busts left-side batters inside. He also throws a forkball that some call a splitter, a changeup, a cutter, a sinker and even a knuckleball. At this point, he has the potential to be a solid three.
Since they joined the Phillies, Halladay, Lee and Kendrick have added a solid change, three-finger and/or circle, while Hamels arrived with both. That stated, the prediction here is that the new starter will improve his changeup for a decent third weapon during the season. Despite obstacles he will finish with a 3.50 ERA.
During spring training, Gonzalez will earn the game-two outing between Hamels and Lee.
UPDATE (February 25):
After a two-year layoff, Gonzalez is lacking arm strength, control and has too many pitches: six instead of his three best. He will probably open the season at Reading or Lehigh Valley and will be there for three months minimum. That said, he’ll live up to expectations even if it’s next summer.
Traded Prospects: 2 = Cleveland & Toronto 3 = Houston
BJ Rosenberg & Jake Diekman:
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