Results tagged ‘ Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez ’
They fully expected him to jump into the 2014 rotation behind Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee.
But more than a year into his three-year, $12 million contract (Gonzalez lost $36 million because of concerns following his physical) the Phillies have received no return on their investment. And one wonders if they ever will. The Phillies optioned Gonzalez to Minor League camp yesterday after he went 0-3 with a 7.53 ERA in five Grapefruit League appearances. He allowed 25 hits, 12 runs, five home runs and one walk with seven strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings.
“It’s possible,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said today, when asked if he is worried the organization will get nothing from Gonzalez.
“He hasn’t pitched well enough to be a major league starter for us,” Amaro said. “His stuff and his command just weren’t good enough. It’s kind of simple. He needs to be better for us to utilize him in our rotation. He’ll go down and pitch and hopefully he improves. If he doesn’t, then he doesn’t.”
The killer is that Gonzalez never had a better opportunity to make the team. The Phillies desperately need a No. 5 starter with Lee almost certainly lost for the season with a torn tendon in his left elbow. But Gonzalez could not outpitch non-roster invitees Kevin Slowey and Sean O’Sullivan.
“You wish the guy was pitching better,” Amaro said. “I think he does, too. I think he’s disappointed. I think he’s disappointed in himself because he geared himself up to want to take this job. It doesn’t mean it’s the end of him, but he’s just not ready to take that job right now.”
Does this serve as a warning for those who want the Phillies to drop tens of millions of dollars on Cuban free agents?
“It’s a risk,” Amaro said. “There’s a lot of teams that were in on him and we ended up signing him. He hasn’t performed as well as we would have liked. He may never perform as well as we would have liked, but that’s the risk you take. Sometimes, you’ve got to take a risk.”
The Phillies announced this morning they had optioned him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, which was not a surprise. Gonzalez entered Spring Training with a chance to make the Phillies rotation and his chances improved dramatically with Cliff Lee almost certainly lost for the season with an injured left elbow.
But Gonzalez never looked close to big-league ready. He went 0-3 with a 7.53 ERA in five Grapefruit League appearances. He allowed 25 hits, 12 runs, five home runs and one walk with seven strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings.
Gonzalez’s demotion leaves the No. 5 starter’s job to Kevin Slowey or Sean O’Sullivan, who is in Minor League camp.
O’Sullivan might be the favorite at this point because he is being stretched out. Slowey is not, although there is time. The Phillies do not need a No. 5 starter until April 12.
The Phillies on Sunday also optioned right-hander Hector Neris to Triple-A. Right-hander Paul Clemens, catcher Koyie Hill and infielders Chris McGuiness and Chris Nelson had been reassigned to Minor League camp.
The Phillies have 36 players remaining in camp: 17 pitchers, three catchers, eight fielders and eight outfielders.
The Phillies and Gonzalez agreed to a six-year, $48 million contract in July 2013, but the deal dropped to three years, $12 million following his physical. Gonzalez’s questionable health popped up last Spring Training and he struggled in the Minor Leagues as a starter with those health issues lingering.
The Phillies eventually converted Gonzalez into a reliever and he had success in that role in Double-A Reading and Triple-A. He got promoted to the Phillies in September, but he had a 6.75 ERA in six relief appearances.
They announced today that they signed him to a one-year, $2.5 million contract, which includes performance bonuses. Williams, 32, went 4-2 with a 2.83 ERA in nine starts this year.
“He did a nice job,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “We feel he has some upside. He’s got some versatility. He’ll be given every opportunity to be part of our rotation, but he has some versatility to pitch in the middle (of the bullpen) somewhere if not.”
Williams went 2-5 with a 6.71 ERA in 28 appearances (two starts) last season with the Astros and Rangers before the Phillies claimed him off waivers in August. He is 48-54 with a 4.40 ERA in his nine-year career, so should the Phillies expect some sort of regression to his career averages?
“We looked at the metrics on that,” Amaro said. “A lot of it will depend on him. The way that he performed, it was clear that he had changed his overall approach. If he maintains that approach we believe he can gives us the depth we need. One of our priorities is trying to create some more starting pitching depth.”
Cole Hamels and David Buchanan are the only starting pitchers under contract or team control who finished the 2014 season healthy.
Cliff Lee finished the year on the disabled list with a left elbow injury, although Amaro said Lee is scheduled to begin his throwing program next month. The Phillies expect him to be ready by Spring Training.
A.J. Burnett has a $15 million mutual option, which the Phillies are certain to decline. But even if they do, Burnett has a $12.75 million player option, which he has until five days following the World Series to accept or decline. Burnett has vacillated between pitching again and retiring.
“I’m really kind of neutral on it,” said Amaro, asked if he would be surprised if Burnett turned down that much money. “I knew what it took to get him back and pitching this year. I would assume that he’d want to pitch again. I don’t have that information, but my inclination is that he’s going to want to pitch. He’s a competitive guy.”
Other pitchers on the 40-man roster include Kyle Kendrick, who will become a free agent; Jonathan Pettibone, who had right shoulder surgery in June; and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, who became a reliever because of concerns about his ability to stay healthy as a starter.
But Amaro said Gonzalez will enter Spring Training competing for a job in the rotation.
“We’re going to give him every opportunity to be in our rotation,” Amaro said. “We have to try to create as many opportunities for starting pitching as we possibly can. We’re not going to be able to go through a season with five or six pitchers. It’s probably going to take seven to 10 pitchers.”
But can Gonzalez hold up?
“He personally feels more comfortable being in the rotation,” Amaro said. “Whether or not he can provide that remains to be seen. But after speaking with him it was very important to him to be prepared mentally and physically for this offseason to get stretched out.”
But Gonzalez, who had health concerns before the Phillies signed him, has been plagued with shoulder issues. He has been healthy recently, however, and the Phillies today activated him from the 60-day disabled list and optioned him to Double-A Reading, where he will pitch out of the bullpen.
“We started stretching him out and when he got past 40 pitches he wasn’t able to handle it physically and stay in his mechanics,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “We decided to go ahead and make him a reliever for now. Once he gets his feet on the ground we’ll try to stretch him out for next year.”
So he could be a starter in the future?
“He could, yeah,” Amaro said.
If his shoulder holds up. Asked if Gonzalez’s latest MRI looked clean, Amaro said, “It’s kind of like normal changes like a lot of guys, but he’s physically fine now.”
Gonzalez has been throwing well during a rehab assignment with Class A Clearwater. He touched 97 mph recently when he got upset at an opposing player.
“He got a little rammy,” Amaro said. “We’ll see how rammy he can get. We’re just trying to get him reps right now and get him going and competing. We’ll see where it takes us. We’ll evaluate him like everybody else in our system. Hopefully he can handle Double-A and we’ll go from there.”
Could he be in the big leagues this year?
“Can I see it? If he throws 96 or 97, or 94 or 95 or whatever and gets people out consistently, yeah,” Amaro said. “Why not? A lot of depends on his performance.”
- Right-hander Mike Adams, recovering from right shoulder surgery (retroactive to March 26).
- Infielder Freddy Galvis, left knee infection (retroactive to March 21).
- Right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, right shoulder tendinitis (retroactive to March 21).
- Left-hander Cole Hamels, left biceps tendinitis (retroactive to March 21).
- Right-hander Ethan Martin, right shoulder inflammation (retroactive to March 21).
- Outfielder/first baseman Darin Ruf, left oblique strain (retroactive to March 21).
Adams hopes he can rejoin the Phillies bullpen by April 15. Galvis, who is recovering from MRSA, could be back by the middle of the month, too.
The Phillies have indicated Hamels could rejoin the rotation before the end of April.
The Phillies said on March 21 that Ruf could miss 4-6 weeks. Martin just started throwing, and Ruben Amaro Jr. said recently Gonzalez could be a candidate for the 60-day DL to give them flexibility for the 40-man roster.
Right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez did not pitch as scheduled today in a Grapefruit League game against the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium because he has a sore right shoulder. The Phillies said he first experienced the soreness while throwing yesterday.
Gonzalez already has seen a doctor, and will see a doctor again tomorrow.
“We’re always concerned about guys who are sore,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “But that’s all it is right now. He is day-to-day. … He experienced some soreness in the front of his shoulder. We don’t think it’s anything alarming. He was feeling better today.”
The Phillies are short on starting pitching depth, but it was highly unlikely Gonzalez would have opened the season in the big leagues anyway. He has not looked close to ready after signing a $12 million contract last summer. He allowed four hits, four runs and two walks in one inning Friday against the Orioles, which was the last time he pitched.
The Phillies originally agreed to a $48 million deal in July with Gonzalez, but the deal dropped $36 million following issues with his physical exam. The Phillies have said Gonzalez has been healthy since camp opened, although Amaro said Gonzalez battled arm tightness last month.
Gonzalez joins a list of Phillies pitchers with shoulder issues: Cole Hamels, Mike Adams, Jonathan Pettibone and Ethan Martin.
He allowed two hits, one run, walked four and struck out two in 1 2/3 innings yesterday in his Phillies and Grapefruit League debuts against the Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. His fastball hit 93 or 94 mph once, depending on the radar gun, but otherwise sat in the 89-91 mph range. He showed some quality offspeed pitches, particularly his breaking ball, but couldn’t command his fastball.
It was his first time pitching in a game in two years.
“He was rusty and he wasn’t throwing a lot of strikes,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said this morning at Bright House Field. “But I think stuff-wise it was encouraging. He probably threw better with his stuff as far as his velocity and breaking ball since he’s been in camp. It’s a process. We’ve got to let him develop from there. But I was encouraged by his poise. I was encouraged that his stuff was better than it had been in his sides. And hopefully it will continue to progress in a positive way.”
Scouting reports before Gonzalez signed said he threw in the mid-90s.
So where is the heat?
“I think he’s still building it, just like all these other guys,” Amaro said. “It just takes time for guys to build arm strength. I’m not as concerned about the velocity as I am the command and making sure his stuff is consistent. It’ll build.”
Amaro said Gonzalez had some tightness in his arm earlier in the spring, but said Saturday it was not an issue.
“There have been no issues with him thus far,” Amaro said.
If there is a Man of Mystery in Phillies camp, a Mr. X, an unknown, it is Miguel Gonzalez.
The right-hander defected from Cuba last year before he agreed in July to a $48 million deal with the Phillies. But something happened during his physical and the parties ultimately agreed to a three-year, $12 million contract. He seemed to be destined for a top spot in the Phillies rotation, but the Phillies have lowered expectations for him because they said nobody really knows what kind of pitcher he might be.
Factor in the imminent arrival of A.J. Burnett and he could open the season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
“I’ve got more to prove to myself than anyone else,” Gonzalez said of his Mystery Man status. “Once I prove it to myself, everyone else will be able to see it clearly.”
Gonzalez said he started throwing bullpens Jan. 6 and feels 100 percent healthy.
“There is more speed, more movement,” he said. “I can tell I’ve progressed.”
Cole Hamels is expected to open the season on the disabled list, but he could be back before the end of April. Once he is healthy, Hamels, Cliff Lee, Burnett and Kyle Kendrick will take the top four spots in the rotation. The Phillies signed Roberto Hernandez to a one-year, $4.5 million contract in December. He is the heavy favorite for the No. 5 spot because Gonzalez, Jonathan Pettibone and others in camp have options.
“Those are decisions that are out of my control,” said Gonzalez, asked if he sees himself in the rotation come Opening Day. “I’m going to do my best to do that, but that (decision) is out of my hands.”
He said he would pitch in the bullpen, if needed, but Ruben Amaro Jr. said he is best suited pitching regularly in a rotation.
But this afternoon the Phillies announced they had signed Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to a three-year, $12 million contract. The deal includes a vesting/club option for 2017, plus signing and performance bonuses. If you remember, the Phillies and Gonzalez agreed July 27 to a six-year, $48 million deal with an $11 million option for 2019. But MLB.com reported Aug. 6 the deal hit a snag and could be in jeopardy.
It is believed the Phillies had some concerns about his health following his physical. Gonzalez had bone spurs removed from his right elbow relatively recently.
That is the only reason to explain why the deal dropped from $48 million to $12 million.
But if Gonzalez is healthy and is as good as scouts think he is, he should help the 2014 rotation behind Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee.
“We are very pleased to have come to an agreement with Miguel,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement. “He is someone our scouts have followed for several years and in our most recent observations of him he showed tremendous stuff. We are hopeful he will pitch out of our starting rotation for 2014 and beyond.”
Gonzalez will report to the Phillies’ Spring Training complex in Clearwater, Fla. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, left-hander John Lannan has been moved to the 60-day disabled list.
In fact, an announcement might never happen.
A source indicated to MLB.com tonight the two parties had hit a snag since word quickly spread July 26 the parties had agreed to a six-year, $48 million contract that included an $11 million option for 2019.
The Phillies have said nothing about Gonzalez since the story broke, not even as much as acknowledging anything might be cooking with the Cuban. Asked just before tonight’s game against the Cubs at Citizens Bank Park if a deal with Gonzalez might no longer happen, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. repeatedly declined comment.
Since the agreement late last month numerous reports have mentioned scouts with questions about Gonzalez’s elbow. He had bone spurs removed from his elbow sometime within the past two years, although it has been written he had made a full recovery.
Scouts that have seen him pitch recently consider him a No. 3 starter in the big leagues, which would have helped the Phillies entering 2014.