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August 31, 2011

Gonzalez has 'mixed reaction' to trade to Rangers

A day before the deadline for teams to acquire players eligible for the postseason, the Orioles found a taker for left-handed reliever Michael Gonzalez. On Wednesday afternoon, he was dealt in a waiver trade to the Texas Rangers -- who lead the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim by 3 1/2 games in the American League West -- for a player to be named later.

“It’s kind of a mixed reaction for me right now,” Gonzalez told reporters after cleaning out his locker in the Orioles clubhouse. “I’m excited. I’m going to go out there and I’m going to try to win a championship now, especially right now that I’m feeling good. That bad part is, obviously, I wanted to do more here in Baltimore. … I wish I would have been able to do better for the fans and things like that, but it is what it is.”

That the Rangers, the runner-up in the 2010 World Series and a contender again this season, expressed an interest says a lot about how well Gonzalez is pitching. It also says something about his perseverance.

Gonzalez has been a popular target of frustrated Orioles fans since he faltered in the closer’s role during the first week of the 2010 season. He also got off to a shaky start this season, the second of a two-year, $12 million deal, and had a 5.46 ERA in 31 1/3 innings before the All-Star break.

But he bounced back in the second half, holding opposing hitters to a .154 batting average while posting a 1.80 ERA. The 33-year-old hasn’t allowed a run in 13 consecutive appearances dating back to July 22.

“He stayed headstrong,” closer Kevin Gregg said. “He believes in himself and that confidence, it came out and allowed him to showcase who he is as a pitcher here in Baltimore. Unfortunately, for the first year and a half, Orioles fans didn’t get a chance to see his full potential. We got a glimpse of it here lately.”

Manager Buck Showalter said the trade could potentially help both the Orioles and the Rangers.

“Gonzo is going to be a really nice piece for Ron Washington and the Rangers,” Showalter said. “He's pitching as good as any American League reliever, left-hander, reliever period. They're catching him at a great time. He's familiar with the American League, so there should be little transition. He's obviously familiar with the state of Texas. So it's a really good situation for them.”

Gonzalez exchanged hugs, high-fives and phone numbers with some of his now-former teammates before Wednesday night’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays. He thanked president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail for giving him an opportunity to pitch for the Orioles. And on multiple occasions, he expressed regret that he didn’t show this city what he was fully capable of until the past few weeks.

“That was the most frustrating for me, that I was obviously brought here to help the team win in those types of situations,” Gonzalez said. “And not being able to do that was tough for me.”

He’ll now get a chance to help the Rangers win a title alongside former Orioles reliever Koji Uehara. And when he hits the free-agent market at season’s end, Gonzalez, a Texas native, didn’t rule out returning to Baltimore.

“I’d love to show them what I’m capable of doing when I’m healthy. Yeah, of course,” Gonzalez said before slipping out of his Orioles gear for perhaps the last time. “Everything about [Baltimore] is great.”

Posted by Matt Vensel at 4:37 PM | | Comments (11)


Good luck, Gonzo. Give our best to Koji.

For a player to be named later - how does that work. How much later - after the season? Do they the O's know who they are getting now? How does it help the O's.

Gonzo showed a lot of heart in pulling himself together and living up to his talent. I'm sorry to see him leave. But I'm glad he can leave with his head high and his pride restored. The Rangers' bullpen just got a helluva lefty. The Orioles' bullpen is looking thin,

'Fool me once.....' and all that but Gonzo has made a believer out of me. His lights out performance since the break has convinced me that we should bring him back, albeit nowhere near his original price and probably more like an incentive-laden veteran's minimum wage deal.

I also believe he is a man of integrity and is not pitching well simply because of his contract status. I don't think that he was ever comfortable or blase with his letting down of the team last year, as others may have been.

In other news, I lost a tooth yesterday and my mom says the tooth fairy will be leaving me a quarter under my pillow tonight.

In future news... McPhail once again feels snookered when he learns that "player to be named later" is actually already on O's roster. Says the puzzled McPhail, "How was I supposed to know that Vlad was already an Oriole? I haven't noticed him all season. Somebody should really give me a head's up next time." In feel good news, after mysteriously gaining 5 mph on his fastball and moving into closer role with Rangers, Gonzales records save in game 7 of World series. Quoting Gonzales, "I guess I just needed a change of scenery."

Please, Gonzo, please. Don't come back. Have a lovely time in Texas. Next time you're in town with the Rangers, blow the game for them, as you have so many times for us.

Maybe get Mike Napoli for Gonzalez. Good riddance. He was worthless. Another one of Andy MacFails terrible trades. In 4 yrs he has gotten us only 4 good ballplayers in trade. Thats one a year. The orioles did well in drafting Weiters but pitching has been an awful thing to watch for 80+ games. Maybe spend some real money on pitchers and a quality infielder like Emilio Bonafacio to add more speed and hits to lineup. Kelly Johnson would have been an excellent pick up but Toronto Jays jumped on that deal.

Good riddance to the guy who blew the 2010 season single handedly. What a waste.

He's talented and a good guy who always gives his all. He never said a bad word about Baltimore or the fans, even when he was booed like he was at the beginning of last season.
Best wishes to him.

Some Baltimore official just answer one question, why did the Orioles find it necessary to trade him when he is throwing well, our staff is shot, and we get no usable pitcher that can help us the last month of the year?
When are you writers going to get us some straight answers? This is no different than why no one will press the Ravens on what is wrong with Evans? What are we, just a bunch of fools?

Gonzo actually seems to feel accountable for his performance, a quality that is decidedly not universal among baseball players.

It's hard to blame a guy for pitching poorly--it's not like he wants to stink--and I'm glad he's been pulling it together of late. Nobody would have expected this early in the year, but he's probably the second best reliever we have (had), after JJ.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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