I may incite a riot and receive many hate comments with this statement, but Mike Gonzalez is valuable to the Orioles and it is not even worth considering DFAing him. There has been talk about Mike Gonzalez and after his debacle last night and in Fenway, there has been a widespread public outcry to outright release him. Well I was there last year opening day when Mike Gonzalez stole the soul of the 10' Orioles and I was there last night when he drilled Chris Dickerson. I am not sure if they showed it on tv, but Gonzalez looked horrified after he released the pitch and stood a few feet from the batters' box showing more concern over the health of Dickerson than the ejection. That was not intentional I can say with almost certainty.
Mike Gonzalez is nowhere near a $12 million dollar pitcher but is the Orioles only major league caliber left handed relief pitcher (think Rapada, Clay or Hendrickson, Mark). Although he is not a left handed specialist, with all of the lefty-heavy offenses (Boston) it is important to have multiple solid left relievers, and I fault my boy Andy MacPhail greatly for stocking our system with only with Rapada, Hendrickson and Gonzo.
Many people think that Gonzo was awful last year, I would argue that he was more than adequate when not in the closer role. When O's fans think of Gonzo, they think of him ruining the 10' season before it began, but he turned in some solid numbers in the second half last year in mostly middle inning mop up duty. Gonzo held opposing batters to a .165 batting average with 28 K's in 22.2 IP, while maintaining an ERA of 2.78. Gonzo had a WAR of .7 last year (according to fangraphs), making him worth about half of our investment for year 1, much less of a bust than I expected as I began this argument.
Gonzo can be an above average reliever the rest of the way for the Orioles, his sample size is still low on the year and the periferials suggest that he is getting a bit unlucky. His BABIP is .395 this year vs his year average of .285, his line drive percent is hovering around 28% vs a normal 21% and his HR/FB ratio is about twice his average at about 17%. Gonzo is pitching more of his fastball this year which has been wild to say the least. Gonzo is not pitching well, but he is not pitching as bad as we think he is, his BB/9 ratio is actually below his figures for his career average. However it is important to note that with a reliever these sample sizes are very, very small as Gonzo has not even pitched 13 innings yet. Gonzo is struggling but is not doing as poor as is being perceived in Baltimore circles.
Releasing Gonzo is not even an option to the Orioles, he is our only valuable lefty and he has been the beneficiary of some poor luck. He has not pitched well, but Gonzo had an above average season last year and has a track record for being a servicable reliever. He will never live up to his $12 million dollar deal, but he can become a servicable option in the pen, as he was overlooked by most O's fans last year. Gonzo cannot wait to do that again, fade into the background as a reliever, put in some valuable innings and reward O's fans for their patience with him. Patience people, I mean we resigned Cesar Izturis with his .277 OBP and 50 OPS+.