Alex Gonzalez’s Hot Start

Signed to a one-year contract with a team option for 2011 by the Blue Jays this offseason, Alex Gonzalez did not attract much attention on the free agent market after being cut loose by the Red Sox. He netted just $2.75 million for this year and his option is worth only $2.5 million. There was good reason for that lack of fanfare. Alex Gonzalez hasn’t been a good hitter ever aside from 2007. He has survived by being a solid glove man at short stop but having turned 33, one had to wonder how much longer that would hold out.

It is too soon into the season to make any comments on Gonzalez’s fielding prowess, though the early returns look good, but he has apparently remembered that he once hit 23 home runs with the Marlins. Hitting just eight home runs all of last year over 429 trips to the plate, Gonzalez already has matched that total in just 109 plate appearances this season. His eighth home run coming off Ben Sheets yesterday, Gonzalez now boasts a .922 OPS completely supported by his .619 slugging percentage.

Gonzalez still lacks plate patience and is striking out a prodigious level which might undermine his offensive output down the line, but for now he is surviving and managing to be an asset despite a .303 on base percentage. At 1.3 WAR, Gonzalez is already nearly halfway to his previous career high.

Given his current plate discipline numbers, he seems a prime candidate to suffer through some horrendous slumps as the year progresses but with his good fielding at a premium position, Alex Gonzalez has already returned adequate value on the Toronto’s investment.



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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.


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Greg
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Greg
6 years 2 months ago

The way I read about it in the Globe, he cut the Red Sox loose, not the other way around. Supposedly they might have topped Toronto’s offer after checking to see what others (i.e. Scutaro) were asking. Gonzalez decided signing earlier was smarter than waiting around for the possibility of a slightly better offer.

pft
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pft
6 years 2 months ago

Well, the Red Sox refused to make him an offer and asked him to wait, thats the same thing as cutting him loose IMHO. He decided that in this market that was not wise, and he was right. Good move by the Blue Jays. Red Sox never get it right at SS, except by accident, and then they can not recognize they got it right.

Scutaro has been fine overall, but Eddie Stanky would call him a good player from the neck down. Makes some real dumb moves at times.

Greg
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Greg
6 years 2 months ago

He cut them loose because they kept him waiting. Presumably they knew that was a risk and they now have to live with it, but it was his decision in the end. I agree he made a smart decision.

Hank
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Hank
6 years 2 months ago

Odd that a team focused on pitching defense would spend more money on Scutaro and downgrade the defense at the SS position (and give up a draft pick to boot)… Or perhaps the pitching defense is only trotted out when it fits… all they had to do is tell their fans that they thought Bay wanted too long a contract and they weren’t willing to spend that much money on Holliday. Either way the Red Sox spin was Toronto’s gain..

Or I guess the whole defense and pitching is just judiciously used and SS isn’t that critical and offense from that position is more important?

TsB
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TsB
6 years 2 months ago

Or they were trying to maximise their returns.

But that’s too prudent, right?

Hank
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Hank
6 years 2 months ago

I agree and thta’s kind of my point… the media (ESPN specifically) got on the pitching/defense hype machine as if it it was some newfangled strategy.

They weren’t choosing pitching & defense specifically they were choosing the best value available and it just happened to be pitching and defense related and the Scutaro/Gonzalez ‘swap’ proves it in my view… they chose what they thought is the best value, not a specific new philosophy.

I do think the RedSox have also been using this as a way of trying to keep their fans from taking them to task on passing on Bay and Holliday…. while probably an economically prudent move (due to the length those guys were looking for), they needed something to keep the pitchforks at bay (pun intented)

verd14
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verd14
6 years 2 months ago

It also looks like they happened to forget about defense in the C slot…

Greg
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Greg
6 years 2 months ago

I think they were looking for short-term contracts, two guys who were willing to sign such contracts (Beltre, Cameron) happened to be plus defenders, and the media ran away with that. You’re right that if the organization’s plans started with defense then they wouldn’t have played it so cool with Gonzalez.

Impossibles
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Impossibles
6 years 2 months ago

Jays fan here – Gonzalez has been outstanding, a really pleasant surprise. I, along with most Jays fans, were pretty luke warm on this deal and thought the main benefit was ‘forcing’ Boston to sign Scutaro for the draft picks. But Gonzalez has ripped quite a few homer (granted a couple just cleared the short LF fence at Rogers Center) but mainly his glove has been way better than advertised. Once a game he seems to make a spectacular play and makes it look so easy. The fact that he has a cheap club option just makes it that much better. I just hope he can stay healthy, I know he had problems with that in Cincy.

One caveat on the plate discipline though, look at the entire Jays roster. The coaching staff seems to have applied a grip it and rip it mindset to the team. Oh well, its a lost season anyways, might as well try to impress the girls with the long bombs.

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