On Monday, the Detroit Tigers sent utility man Steve Lombardozzi to the Baltimore Orioles in a one-for-one trade that brought veteran shortstop Alex Gonzalez to Detroit. The move left many Tigers fans scratching their heads as they questioned what a 37-year-old infielder, who has not even been a quasi-effective player since 2011, could possibly bring to the ball club. However, Gonzalez has been proving that he still has something left in the tank.
On Thursday afternoon, the Tigers defeated the Atlanta Braves by a score of 9-3, and Gonzalez contributed by going 2-3 with a double and an RBI. The career .246 hitter is now hitting a combined .441 in his time with the Orioles and Tigers this spring. Gonzalez did, however, make an error in today’s game, but it was his first of the spring.
Questions do exist about Gonzalez’s defensive abilities. He has had seasons where he has committed quite a few errors in the past, especially earlier on in his career, but fortunately, the Tigers will have a very solid defender in Andrew Romine on their bench. Romine will be able to come in as a defensive replacement for Gonzalez late in games, if necessary.
It is also very important to note that Gonzalez will be bringing 15 years of MLB experience to the Tigers. Some thought that the Tigers would be able to survive the season simply by putting Danny Worth, Hernan Perez or Eugenio Suarez at shortstop, but the Tigers already have one player with minimal big-league experience on the left side of the infield in Nick Castellanos. Therefore, it makes more sense to slide a player who has been around the game in at short, even though Jose Iglesias, the player who Gonzalez will be replacing, only had one full year in the majors under his belt himself.
Gonzalez has also been on a championship ball club, as he and teammate Miguel Cabrera were part of the 2003 Florida Marlins team that defeated the New York Yankees in six games in the 2003 World Series. Now reunited in Detroit 11 years later, they will be looking to help the Tigers accomplish the same goal for the first time in 30 years.
When it was first reported that Iglesias could perhaps miss the entire 2014 season, many expected the Tigers to go out and make a big splash, as that has been their modus operandi in recent years. However, the Tigers simply were not willing to surrender a first-round draft pick to sign Stephen Drew, or spare the talent that would have been required to pry Brad Miller or Nick Franklin away from the Seattle Mariners.
Instead, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski made a couple of under-the-radar moves by trading for Romine and later Gonzalez. With the way that Gonzalez has been swinging the bat lately, it is beginning to look like Dombrowski may have worked his midas touch once again.