#2 / Shortstop / Cincinnati Reds
Feb 15, 1977
- Alexander Luis Gonzalez was born in the small town of Cagua, Venezuela, also home to Reds minor league pitcher Ramon Ramirez. Gonzalez is one in a line of great Venezeulan shortstops, including Luis Aparicio, Davey Concepcion, and Oman Vizquel.
- He was signed on April 18, 1994 as an amateur free agent by the Florida Marlins.
- He was a highly thought-of as a prospect, with a rare blend of sharp defense at shortstop and decent power (19 HRs in AA in '97). He rose as high as #17 in BA's prospect rankings (1999).
- He made his debut for the Marlins on August 25, 1998 and hit a solo home run against the Cardinals.
- 1999 was his full-season debut in the Majors, and he it was impressive. He hit .277/.308/.430 and tagged 14 HRs in 136 games, making his first (and only to date) All-Star team.
- His best season with the Marlins came in their '03 championship season, when he hit .256/.313/.443 and 18 HRs in 150 games. His UZR at SS was a solid 7.0, backing up his reputation as a glovely defender. His finest moment came when he hit a walk-off HR in the 12th inning of game 4 against the Yankees to give the Marlins a 4-3 victory and a 2-2 tie in the Series.
- He was granted free agency before the '06 season, when he signed a 1-year deal with the Boston Red Sox for $3 mil. It was the second time in his career that he took over shortstop for Edgar Renteria, who was traded by the Marlins to the Cardinals to make room for Gonzalez in '99.
- Gonzalez had a bit of a down year for the Sox, hitting .255/.299/.397 with 9 HRs in only 111 games. Regardless, Reds' GM Wayne Krivsky saw enough value in his glove (an impressive 11.1 UZR in '06) to sign him to a 3-year, $14 mil deal on November 20, 2006. Most were all right with the signing, with the hope that an OF could be found to boost the offense. Of course, at that time Josh Hamilton was still working at a construction gig in the Carolinas.
- The Sea Bass seemed to take pretty well to the cool, inviting waters of the Ohio River, as he posted his best offensive season ever in '07. He hit .272/.325/.468, with 16 HRs in 110 games. He missed significant time during the season to be with his son, who was suffering from an undisclosed illness. Gonzalez was very private about the matter, but all indications are that the boy is healthy and doing well now.
- 2008 was a rough (non-existent) year for Gonzalez, as a knee injury suffered while playing winterball in Venezuela delayed his participation in Spring Training. He was perpetually "a few weeks away", and a number of different attempts to come back were thwarted by setbacks. Eventually, he elected to have microfracture surgery in July, giving no hope for a return until '09. One has to wonder if the Reds would have handled the SS position differently had Gonzalez's injury presented itself to be so serious to begin with. Would Brandon Phillips have moved over? Would a free-agent have been signed? Instead, defensively-deficient alternatives Jeff Keppinger (himself a victim of a knee injury), Jerry Hairston Jr, and not-ready-for-prime-time Paul Janish got the bulk of the playing time at short.
- 2009 is an important year for Gonzalez, as many question his ability to produce after a year away. Will his range be diminished by the injury? How long will it take to get his timing back in the batter's box? Is Dusty really going to bat him 2nd?
Drafted/Signed: signed as an amateur free agent by the Marlins in April 1994
Signed: as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox in February of 2006
Signed: as a free agent with the Cincinnati Reds in November of 2007
GM when acquired by Reds: Wayne Krivsky
MLB service time: 10.03 years
Signed by scout: Levy Ochoa
Current contract status: Final year of a 3-year deal. Will make $5.375 mil this season with a mutual option at $6 mil for next season ($0.5 mil buyout)
(via The Baseball Cube)