"It's a disgrace that the D-backs got rid of Gonzo. People wonder why
there is no more loyalty in sports. Why should any player be loyal to the
D-backs, if they were not loyal to the most visible player in the history of the
franchise? I wish Gonzo the best. Maybe Artie Moreno will give him a
shot as the DH in Anaheim. Josh Byrnes is just a Theo Epstein wanna be. The new
ownership is no Jerry Collangelo."
It's been like this all week. When the news was announced, I was
flooded with the emails. My phone wouldn't stop ringing.
What are they doing!
He's the face of the franchise!
How do they expect anybody else to come here?!?
It was the last one that prompted this article. The fact that they are
not resigning Luis Gonzalez is precisely the reason the will be
able to bring in other players. Gonzo has recovered, after a borderline
horrible first half he's been pretty good the second half of the season, but
he's no longer a force, no longer a #3 hitter, no longer the best player, or
even one of the best players, on the team.
Here's the real question. Do you want Luis Gonzalez back, or do you
want a shot at the NL West next season?
The Diamondbacks have money to spend in free agency. Will they spend it
wisely? Will they get the starting pitching they need? Will they
find at least one reliable bullpen arm? I don't know, and no one will
until next season, but here's one thing you can bet on.
If they brought Gonzo back at $10 million, they certainly wouldn't.
Compare Gonzalez's number with that of his (at least right now) replacement
in left, Eric Byrnes. They don't compare. Byrnes is better right
now. Carlos Quentin is ready, and Chris Young has shown he is as well.
Chad Tracy, Stephen Drew, Orlando Hudson and Conor Jackson are on the infield,
and the three headed monster of Johnny Estrada, Chris Snyder and Miguel Montero
will prove to be a battle for two spots all spring.
It's just the pitching. Brandon Webb is a Cy Young candidate, and what
else do we have? Jose Valverde may be the closer, but he may be injury
prone and unable to deal with the pressure. There are about 15 guys who
might be the perfect tandem of set up men, but none of them are that guy.
What is the answer? Micah Owings and Greg Smith are likely a year away.
Dustin Nippert and Edgar Gonzalez have yet to step up and claim a spot in the
rotation, and as good as Enrique Gonzalez was after the first inning, it
seems unlikely the MLB will institute a new rule that all games start in inning
Gonzo was, is, and likely always will be the face of the franchise. He
does a ton for the community, but do you think he's suddenly going to stop?
Of course not, Gonzo knows this is a business, and he knows it's not the
decision the fans would have made. Gonzo has come up with probably
hundreds of big hits for the organization, but very few in the last two years.
His family is here, and they love it here, and so did he, which is the only
reason this matters. If Gonzo didn't like it in Arizona so much, it
wouldn't have been a big deal, he would have been shopping himself around all
The bottom line is that the D'Backs did it right. Gonzo asked to know.
The D'Backs didn't have to tell him, or the press, or the fans, that this was
it. They could have simply said we're considering the options, waited
until January, and then said 'No, thanks.' Gonzo asked to know now and the
D'Backs let him know. They let the Arizona fans have another couple of
weeks watching their hero, the man who's biggest hit was a broken bat bloop
single, in a year where he hit 57 dingers. The man who was, at best, a
journeyman before he arrived in Arizona.
There are two statements in the letter printed above I'd like to address
I wish Gonzo the best.
So do I. So do we all. So do the D'Backs. Especially if he
ends up on the A's, or frankly anybody not in the NL West. You just know
he's going to torch us if he's in the National League, and Lord help us if he
heads to a division rival, because he might hit .200 all season, but against the
D'Backs you just know he'll hit .450 with 10 homers and 20 RBI in 16 games.
You just know it, and frankly, so do the D'Backs front office people, and they
were willing to take the risk.
It's the second one that got to me though.
The new ownership is no Jerry Collangelo.
No, they're not. You know how I know they're not? Because they
let Gonzo know when he asked. Remember Randy Johnson's farewell press
conference? How about Curt Schilling's? No, you don't, because there
wasn't one. The D'Backs let them know long after the season was over, long
after people had stopped caring about the D'Backs, and started hoping against
hope that the Cardinals would be good. There was no farewell tour, no
'long goodbye' for two players who, one could argue, were much more instrumental
in winning the World Series than Gonzo was.
That is not a knock on Collangelo. That is not to imply that he did
things the wrong way. Neither player particularly wanted to come
back. Schilling was ready for a bigger stage, and got one, stapled ankle
and all, in the World Series with the Red Sox. Johnson wanted to cash in,
and did with the Yankees, and now he hates his bigger stage. But neither
was told ahead of time. Neither was given the same respect Gonzo was, and
the credit for that goes to Jeff Moorad and Josh Byrnes and (gulp) Ken Kendrick.
The Diamondbacks treated Gonzo as fairly as one can in a business, and they
deserve credit for that, just as Gonzo deserves credit for everything he's done.
There is a place for Gonzo in the D'Backs organization when he finally
decides to hang 'em up. When he is ready to quit playing he can return to
Arizona and take his place in the front office. I think he will, I hope
he will. I want Gonzo here, want his number retired, want his face
plastered on the left field wall. I want Gonzo to be actively involved,
and I wouldn't be shocked if at some point in time he became a hitting coach,
maybe even a manager. His presence has always been one of stability, of
consistency, of an even keel.
And here's the great thing. It will continue to be. Want to know
why, listen to Gonzo himself.
"It's going to take a while for these young players
to develop. But they want to bring them up. I'm not going to bash those guys,
though, because they've given me a great opportunity. I want to move on, too."
He knows that baseball is a game, and that games are
played by kids. Does Gonzo have a couple of years left? Maybe, but
Quentin and Young have a couple of decades left. Now, if they're smart,
those two are hanging on every word, watching every minute detail.
Learning everything they can about how to do things the right way. That's
what Gonzo did, when he was hot, when he was slumping, when it was just your
average day, he did things the right way. Maybe Josh Byrnes and the rest
of the front office learned something from Gonzo, because they did this the
right way too.