What did we learn from Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez’s Phillies debut?

Posted by Corey Seidman, Sat, March 01, 2014 07:08 PM | Comments: 15
2014 Spring Training, Analysis

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez exists, people. He finally took a mound to face (some) major-league hitters Saturday afternoon in Tampa against the Yankees.

Gonzalez struck out the first two batters he faced, but ended up walking four over 1 2/3 innings. It took him 51 pitches to record five outs before being pulled for Rule 5 reliever Kevin Munson.

Gonzalez showed a fastball that ranged from 89-93 mph, a splitter and a curveball. Gonzalez hit 93 in the first inning but was mostly 89-90 in the second.

After the game, he told reporters that he was happy with his first performance and believes he can throw harder. Ryne Sandberg told reporters that the first inning was the best the Phils had seen Gonzalez throw all spring.

Here’s where we are with MAG: The Phillies are paying him $4 million in 2014, but hold three options on him and can send him to the minors to open the season if they deem it necessary. Ruben Amaro Jr. said earlier this week that the Phillies will not have Gonzalez on the 25-man roster unless they think he can help.

David Buchanan’s start

David Buchanan made 79 starts at five different minor-league levels for the Phillies after being taken in the seventh round in 2010, but he was unprotected in the Rule 5 draft. After he went unclaimed, the Phillies extended him a late invite to spring training.

On Saturday, he made the most of it.

Buchanan looked sharp, striking out three Yankees (including Derek Jeter) over two scoreless innings. He’s a Kyle Kendrick-type, and I’ll bet he makes at least one start for the Phillies this season. He’s already jumped ahead of Jonathan Pettibone and Ethan Martin on the organizational depth chart for the time being, since both pitchers have dealt with shoulder pain in Clearwater.

A.J. Burnett’s next

Burnett makes his Phillies spring debut Sunday at 1:05 p.m. against his former Pirates. The game will be televised live on Comcast SportsNet.

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About Corey Seidman

Corey Seidman has written 210 articles on Phillies Nation.

Corey is Analysis Editor for Phillies Nation and also writes for CSNPhilly.com.

  • Posts: 3073 Chuck A.

    Avatar of Chuck A.

    Here’s what I don’t understand…and forgive my ignorance. They originally were going to give him a $48MM contract but then saw a few things that concerned them so it changed to to $12MM. Those same things that concerned them last year are rearing their ugly heads now. So much so that it’s very possible….even likely … that he starts the year in the minors. So if those “things” concerned them so much last year why did they commit ANY money to the guy? Does he really have THAT much of an upside??? I mean this could be a complete waste of $12MM…$12MM that could be spent more wisely

    • Posts: 0 hk


      If the upside was there that they were ready to commit $48M to him over 6 seasons, we know that they thought the guy can pitch if he’s healthy. If the medicals were such that they felt there was a chance that he could reach his upside, why not sign him to the reduced deal? Put differently, if their doctors looked at him and said stay away, I have to think they would have stayed away. If their doctors looked at him and said there’s a chance that he becomes healthy enough to reach his potential, a chance that he’s just a decent bullpen arm and a chance he’s never healthy, $12M / 3 years seems like a worthwhile risk. After all, Phil Hughes just got $24M / 3 years in free agency coming off a season in which he posted a 5.19 ERA and Kyle Kendrick got nearly $8M from the Phillies for the 2014 season.

      Also, I think the key issue in assessing multi-year deals given by teams with a budget (be it the luxury tax limit or otherwise) is not the total cost of the deal as much as the AAV of the deal ($4M per year). Since the Phillies are so close to the luxury tax limit, if they didn’t sign MAG, I doubt that they would have spent all $12M in one year. What does $4M per year buy you on the free agent market these days? Something between Kelly Johnson or Eric Chavez and Rajai Davis. I’d sooner that they do what they did and take their chances with MAG for that kind of money.

      • Posts: 0 wbramh

        When a team offers a player $48 million and ends up signing him for $12 million it would appear to be a a bargain at first glance, but from every behind-the-scene report we’ve read this spring, what the Phillies bought was a 27-year-old prospect with little or no, or terrible scouting. Logic suggests Gonzalez would have shown even less major league stuff one year ago than he’s strutted out this week since he allegedly hadn’t worked out for 2 years and was still recovering from his unreported arm damage. What’s he been doing since June besides counting his money?

        Perhaps the question should be, was it worth offering a 27-year-old player with a previously hidden health record even a standard $30 thousand signing bonus (normally reserved for a healthy and well-scouted 18 to 20-year-old) or should Gonzalez have only been invited to camp on a whim and as an uncompensated walk-on?

        By all accounts coming out of Florida, Gonzalez was, and remains, a multi-million dollar extreme long shot for a 4th place club already strapped with one of the highest payrolls in major league baseball. And that has become the core problem for this team, the 3-way disconnect between player evaluation, reality and resources spent.

        Yeah, maybe Gonzalez will still turn out to be the next Louis Tiant.
        Not unlike the existence of unicorns, when it comes to the Phillies, I want to believe.
        Somebody, give me a reason.

    • Posts: 5346 Lefty

      Avatar of Lefty

      Your ignorance is acknowledged and forgiven. Oh man, did you leave yourself wide open for that :-)

      While it’s true that the Phillies scouting department seems at times to have difficulty properly evaluating talent, I agree with hk on this. How many other possible rotation starters could they have acquired for 4m AAV?

      Ervin Santana, a guy that pitches to over a 5.00 ERA every other year or so, is still out there looking for 50m/4yrs, and a he would cost a draft pick. I’m hoping that MAG can at least do that- for one quarter of the cost and no pick.

      • Posts: 0 wbramh

        Based on Santana’s 5+ ERA and the dollar difference, I suppose a 7+ ERA wouldn’t be a bad goal for MAG except for the fact that the Phillies scored around 3.7 runs per game last season. That fact would rule out out signing all but the more elite hurlers in baseball.

        Losing by an average of 4 per game is not awful…if we’re talking basketball.

        Maybe the answer is resigning Bobby Schantz, Art Mahaffey and Steve Carlton so the team always has a hitter in the nine spot. Plus, Schantzy could cover for Asche in the field.
        I know, that was a cheap shot. Sorry Cody. We still love you.
        (but are you suited up, Maikel?)

      • Posts: 3073 Chuck A.

        Avatar of Chuck A.

        Yeah, I get the AAV argument….if he’s actually going to even BE a major league pitcher. So far I’m not convinced.

  • Posts: 0 Dennis Minuti

    Corey thank you for keeping us expatriot fans up to date!!! Dennis in New Mexico!!!!

  • Posts: 0 DavidE

    Faced Sabathia, Kuroda and Tanaka in one game. Pretty tough assignment for the hitters. We will have to see how Gonzales and Buchanan perform during the spring.

  • Posts: 0 J.L.

    If e gets his command in check and his fastball up in the 90′s he can be very effective. His offspeed stuff looked good. I know McClure wants 4 pitches max but I’d like to see all of them for how effective they could be. He can knuckleball already lol that’s insane…

  • Posts: 0 hot dog

    Cody Asche looked terrible in the field 1error but it could have been 2.

  • Posts: 0 PhilaPhans

    Is it really a surprise that a guy who hasn’t pitched in two years needs more preparation and refining than some February bullpen sessions and a single ST start to get his act together? Is Negadelphia ready to claim another, to bury this guy and proclaim him a bust before March 15th?

    I’m not saying he’s going to set the world on fire, but what I saw was vastly different than what we’ve been told. Yes, Sandberg said that’s the best he’s pitched, but that’s to be expected with the adrenalin. But how about if the guy is allowed to build arm strength? How about if he’s able to re-establish his mechanics and a feel for his release point pitching under stress in all situations?

    It seemed to me that he was at his best with his full motion and that his major problems began when he was pitching out of the stretch. He lost his mechanics and his release point and couldn’t throw consistent strikes. I’d make the focus of his next few bullpen sessions pitching out of the stretch, let’s see what’s there his next start.

    He’s got a nice pitch array, he changed speeds well and he did hit 91, 92 and 93, without having his arm strength built up. Maybe he does have to start in the minors, but is that really such a bad thing when he hasn’t pitched for 2 years? If they have control over him for 4 years, allowing him to continue to develop without the pressure of the majors would be great. Let him come up in May or June, after 5-6 minor league starts, then you’ve got a nice weapon to add to the rotation. Let Buchanon be the extra starter, he showed well.

    Just be patient and try not to take out Amaro-based frustrations on MAG. Kid’s gonna be fine.

    • Posts: 0 wbramh


      Re “…Is it really a surprise that a guy who hasn’t pitched in two years needs more preparation and refining…”

      No, it wouldn’t be surprising except for a few discrepancies in the official story.
      Follow this a moment…

      First off, MAG wasn’t idle for a full two years. He was pitching for Artemisa in Cuba as late as January of 2012. That’s when he tried, unsuccessfully, to defect and was suspended from playing ball by Cuban authorities.

      MAG successfully defected to El Salvador a year later (2013) and moved to Cuba. By June of 2013 MAG declared and by the end of that month was already working out for MLB clubs. Assuming he never picked up a ball since his suspension in Cuba 1.5 years earlier (and that’s doubtful) the allegedly total idle and rusty player still managed to show something to the Phillies scout for management to extend an initial $48 million offer at that time. Even with contract issues over an old and undisclosed injury, MAG was signed by the Phillies by the first week of October.

      So aside from the time discrepancies of his actual layoff period and the question of why he would be throwing successfully for scouts if he hadn’t picked up a ball for even 1.5 years, there’s another obvious burning question: Why hasn’t he picked up a ball since his signing in October if his arm was fine – and apparently fine enough back in June to impress at least one team’s scout? In other words, MAG had at least a year to get ready and at least 5 months under the team’s control to be playing in a winter league and getting personalized instruction. Why did he remain a “mystery,” to paraphrase Ruben. Why are coaches and unnamed observers just now showing concern over what they’re seeing?

      Im not going to add conjecture because the situation is too insane even for a conspiracy theorist to decode. Perhaps the player and team have simply neglected to include a few events on the timeline but that still wouldn’t account for MAG’s “unspectacular” showing in Clearwater.

      Things just don’t add up.

      • Posts: 0 Marple

        I don’t think anyone but you thinks MAG’s issue is that he “hasn’t picked up a baseball” since January of 2013. Whether he did or not, he wasn’t facing competitive baseball situations.

        Is he behind where the Phillies hoped he’d be? Obviously. But, frankly, who cares if it all “adds up” or whether all the loose ends are tied up. He looks like he has some potential, obviously he impressed someone with pull with the Phillies at some point.

        So we’ll see if it pans out. I really don’t see the point of complaining about whether the narrative makes sense to you. It’s not like this is some country house mystery or something.

        The Phillies took a chance on the guy, he’s not as ready as they’d hoped, he seems to have some good stuff. If he gets his mid-90s fastball back and a lot more control, we’ve got a 4th or 5th starter. If not, we lose some money.

        No mystery. No need to panic. Que sera sera.

        The only insanity here may the attempt to imbue this all with some meaning it just doesn’t have.

      • Posts: 0 Jebidiah Atkinson

        Que sera sera indeed! It’s not like there were other ways to spend that $12 million.

      • Posts: 0 wbramh


        If you re-read my comment, I was suggesting the exact opposite. That MAG’s current issues have nothing at all to do with his not picking up a baseball. Beyond that, I refused, as was clearly stated, to indulge in conjecture as you have by reducing the possibilities to his lack of competition.

        So I will ask the questions in a different way. First, why was MAG so obviously struggling just in the bull pen that red flags went up before he was put in a competitive situation? Second, why didn’t MAG face game competition between last June and spring training when there were plenty of opportunities? If the Phillies did quietly put him to the test somewhere over the winter, then why wasn’t he better prepared, even in the pen?

        All purely questions and zero conjecture.
        Perhaps MAG is the second coming of Louis Tiant but an extremely slow starter, both on the mound AND in the bull pen.
        Beats me. Again, I would not attempt conjecture.

        And yes, he obviously impressed someone, at least someone in the Phillies organization (as did MiniMart) and the Phillies were willing to pay MAG $48 million before his agent realized he accidentally left out the arm injury business during discovery. The Phillies have also been willing to gamble exorbitant and misallocated dollars on certain players over the past few years so I don’t know what their faith in MAG adds up to in reality. Again, I refuse to even guess.

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