They didn't know his name.
All they knew was the Phillies had found a man in Cuba and immediately given him $48 million. Was it a baseball contract? A drug deal? Had the Phillies just bought Cuba?
After giving him a medical exam, they realized that perhaps they should have performed a medical exam a little earlier, before the $48 million, and hastily withdrew their offer in favor of a smaller, $12 million one. It went through, and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, the man they called "MAG," spent the winter being forgotten when people would list potential starters, then raising the hair on the back of their necks as they remembered he was on the team.
"Oh yeah," they would say, eyes widening. "I forgot about him. Who is that guy?"
"...an X factor," Todd Zolecki called him.
And this time, "X" stood for "Xtremely bad."
He gave two hits and walked four in his first 1.2-inning spring training appearance. Next, he threw down against the Orioles for an inning, walked two, gave up four hits and four runs. He left the preseason with a 16.87 ERA and a disgruntled public muttering behind his back.
"We don't believe in him anymore," they said, and turned away, leaving MAG in the rain.
"You'll pay," MAG growled, "YOU'LL ALL PAY."
Starting wasn't in his blood, they decided, so they made him a reliever in the minors. In Clearwater, Reading, and Lehigh Valley he appeared in 31 games, all but three of which in relief. MAG ended the season with a 3.11 ERA, 1.424 WHIP, 54 SO and 10 BB.
Then came September, and the 27-year-old was hidden among with squad of younglings brought up to the Majors for observation.
"Who is that guy?" people asked each other.
"Me? I am no one..." replied MAG wearing a fake mustache.
"... but I can be someone," he finished, taking off his disguise.
"Oh, it's you," people said. "That was just Ervin Santana you struck out. He's a pitcher. That's not a big deal."
"Hrrmm," MAG replied, and walked two batters while allowing three hits and two earned runs that same inning against the Braves.
But in 4.1 more innings of work through September, he would only allow two more additional runs, and one more walk. He ended the year having surrendered only nine hits in 5.1 innings, with five K's.
Now, Ruben Amaro is saying he's back.... and he wants blood:
"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."
Amaro makes joining the Phillies' 2015 rotation sound undeniably sexy - "We're going to need all the fresh arms we can get, because it's a long season and in the end we must feed Baseba'al's terrible hunger."
"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."
"I'll tell you what's not a stretch," MAG whispered, "my revenge."
"Shhhhh," the flight attendant harshly responded. "You were warned about whispering menacingly."