Coming into spring training, the Philadelphia Phillies had no idea what to expect from mystery man Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. The team signed him to a three year $12 million contract this past offseason and was optimistic that he would be able to come in and compete in the starting rotation.
Almost two weeks into camp, the Phillies are discovering Gonzalez may not be what they initially hoped. Reports out of Clearwater are not good, including comments from manager Ryne Sandberg.
Gonzalez was originally signed for six years, $50 million but after an elbow injury was discovered during his physical, the team was able to renegotiate his contract. Sandberg’s comments were blunt but still optimistic he will come around. He believes that Gonzalez could return to form but is still working his way back from injury.
A slot in the starting rotation when the Phillies head back north for the regular season is looking less and less realistic. It will be interesting to see how the organization handles the Gonzalez situation. He is a $12 million investment and although they would like to win now, they may be better suited competing without him until he can get into a groove.
In the interest of fielding the best team possible the Phillies need to determine if Gonzalez has value in the bullpen or if he should work on finding his form in the minors as a starter.
If he continues to struggle with location and a lack of pop on his pitches, they cannot throw him into the fire. Gonzalez would get lit up by major league batters and the Phillies cannot afford to have inconsistent efforts out of the bullpen. They will be best served letting him start the year in the minor leagues in his familiar starting role.
With Cole Hamels out for the first few weeks of the season, their rotation may be stretched thin and he could have an opportunity to prove himself early. Health is always an issue and the Phillies will need as much depth as possible.
The regular season is just over a month away so there is still time for Gonzalez to progress but the Phillies should seriously consider letting their 27-year-old develop in the minor leagues for the first few months of the season.