We knew that the Phillies were interested in Cuban defector Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. Then the Phillies appeared to have a deal in place for him. Then they didn't. Then they did again at a much more affordable rate. But since the signing, many Phillies fans have asked, "Where is he?"
For the first time, the Phillies new starting pitcher caught up with reporters, including Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly and Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. It appears that the Phillies may go into 2014 banking on the right-handed pitcher to provide the Phillies rotation with some power around the top left-handed pitchers Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. But Gonzalez has not pitched in a year and a half and only for his big-league tryout before shutting it down.
Brookover notes that the Phillies approach is to treat Gonzalez as if he had an injury:
After auditioning for big-league teams by throwing bullpen sessions and two games and six innings for a team in Tijuana, Mexico, Gonzalez went nearly six weeks without throwing at all as he waited to see where he would sign. It appeared as if he would join the Phillies in late July, which might have enabled him to pitch in a minor-league game this season. Once the process was delayed by a month, however, the Phillies decided they would treat Gonzalez like a rehabilitating player
Then again, he may have been an injured player. After reportedly agreeing to a contract that may have been as much as $48 million, the Phillies and Gonzalez settled for much smaller and shorter terms. What did the Phillies see in their physical exam of Gonzalez? They are not willing to share what happened in that situation (nor does any team, usually). The Phillies have declared Gonzalez healthy, which is why they gave him a three-year deal worth $12 million. If Gonzalez shows he is healthy and puts up good numbers, there's no reason he shouldn't be able to make up that difference in money.
As far as what Gonzalez brings to the table, Salisbury says that the pitcher is well-equipped with many pitches:
“I have several pitches,” he said. “Fastball, curveball, changeup, cutter, splitter.”
That’s more than several.
Gonzalez throws in the mid-90s and should be able to offer the team something if he can regain control. But the team will not really know that just yet; the reports say that they will give him an early Spring Training warmup and he'll be ready for Spring Training with everyone else.
There is a lot of unknown with Gonzalez, but he has talent. At least we know where he is and that he is on track to try to help the Phillies.