That Phillies rotation sure will be 2/5 full, at least.
And that’s the best thing we can say about it to this point, other than Cliff Lee will be in it until the day he quits baseball forever. Most of the spots aren’t full, and there are not a ton of clear answers to who will fill them. Kyle Kendrick? Jonathan Pettibone? And all the rest! Like this guy, whoever the hell he is.
Who the hell is this guy. (Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports)
Then, there is the Cuban pitcher who no one has ever seen before and whose deal was just about done ($48 mil/6 years), then hit a snag, then wasn’t talked about for a while, then resurfaced weeks later with a price tag attending rehab after a terrifying fall ($12 mil/3 years). Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez is his name. Not appearing on camera or being something Ryne Sandberg knows about is his game.
Yes, the Phillies’ seemingly decided back of the rotation starter has yet to be more than a topic of conversation for the Phillies manager, leading to some suspicion on the part of the person writing these words.
"“He’s a mystery to me. Everything is based on scouting reports and what he has shown when he’s pitching, and there’s projections with that. Other than that, yeah, he’ll be new to me other than a little bit of film and what the scouts say about him. They’ve been impressed as far as the ability to have a good chance to be in the starting rotation next year. Going into spring, we’ve got to see him firsthand.”—Ryne Sandberg, via Todd Zolecki"
That Sandberg runs a tight ship; he has to see the players ‘firsthand’ before he lets them on the team? Not sure how that’s going to jive with Ruben Amaro’s hip new style, when he tries to put a mathematical formula in the five-hole of the rotation.
This, of course, raises the question – does Gonzalez even exist?
Here’s what we know:
- He’s Cuban
- He’s 27
- His birthday is September 23
- He’s right handed
- There are concerns about his elbow
- His agent’s name is Jaime Torres
Amaro may be our best answer. First, he can’t wait to drop $48 million on the kid, then nothing for a while, then he’s only spending $12 million? An astute GM like Amaro isn’t going to pay market price for a guy he can’t confirm isn’t a ghost. No, it’s safer to settle on a gentler $12 million. Now we know what the risk of getting catfished costs.
Also of note: After signing Gonzalez, the Phillies have “no plans” to have him pitch “competitively” this offseason. “Competitively” being another word for “publicly,” in this case. “We just want to see where he’s at,” Assistant GM Scott Proefrock said, which may have been our best leak yet – is Proefrock trying to tell us something?
“We just want to see where he’s at,” could just be a nothing statement; Proefrock explaining what we already know – the Phillies want to know what they’re dealing with in the new guy. I mean, what were they going to do, do that before they paid him? Come on.
OR, Proefrock is giving us a desperate plea, disguised as a bit of PR minutia. Maybe he literally doesn’t know where Gonzalez is “at,” and is begging the media to find out because he’s in over his head and is scared.
Maybe Gonzalez is headed to Florida right now to learn the ways of American baseball. But chances seem to be increasing that he’s actually still in Cuba, not existing.