"I mean, we're paying him regardless."
Welcome to year three of the Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez contract; a deal signed by a 29-year-old always addressed by three names, like a presidential assassin.
While exciting, nobody pinned their hopes to MAG in July 2013, and nobody's really had their lives ruined because of the sad baseball limbo into which his career has drifted. Once the rumored recipient of a six-year, $60 million deal that sounds like it must of disintegrated while he was holding it, only to become worth three years and $12 million, MAG has yet to pitch in a way for the Phillies that makes them want to keep letting him on the field. Ruben Amaro diagnosed him with "not being very good-ness" last March:
"He hasn't pitched well enough to be a major league starter for us. His stuff and his command just weren't good enough. It's kind of simple."
And yet, somewhere between he and Matt Harrison, a man who underwent spinal fusion surgery last year, is the line you cannot cross in order to pitch for the Phillies, as Harrison isn't really expected to do or be anything, while MAG will be getting another shot.
Which isn't surprising; what's surprising is when you simply recall that he is still around and have the inevitable "Oh yeah, that guy," thought while chewing your breakfast sandwich. He's not on the 40-man, not after last spring when he allowed 25 H and 12 ER in 14.1 IP and got a bus seat next to Phillippe Aumont headed for Lehigh Valley for his troubles. He wound up throwing 5.1 innings for the 2014 Phillies, allowing 9 H, 4 ER, and 3 BB. You might not think he's somebody the Phillies would want on the roster anymore, given the obvious, but they're not saying he's having a seat cleaned off for him in the dugout; they just plan on giving him a shot, like everybody else. Otherwise, they're just letting $4 million blow out of their hands and into the sea.
"If he's the best guy for the job," Klentak told reporters, "we'll give him the chance."
Currently, MAG's sporting a 4.13 ERA in Venezuela, throwing 32 innings over seven starts and keeping his strikeouts (15) just about as even with his walks (14) as ever. In his last start, he allowed seven hits over five innings, and walked two while striking out none. Yet he allowed no earned runs. Classic MAG! Except for the no earned runs.
At this juncture, it's hard not to consider MAG a misfire and a pretty clear outsider for a roster spot. You can be glad that the Phillies tried something different and signed a curious young Cuban arm, but given the results, you have to hope they didn't get scared off from taking risks like this for good. With a new regime in place, that's even less likely. At least this isn't only the third year of MAG's six-year deal.