The Phils Continue To Get the Alex S. End of the Gonzalez Stick
by Mike Carminati
The Phils, in a variation of their acquiring the lesser of two brothers, signed Alex S. Gonzalez to further muddy the third base picture. Alex S. is not to be confused with the Alex "No Middle Initial" Gonzalez, who left the Marlins for greener pastures at Fenway (must be the Florida sun).
The Red Sox continue to acquire every ex-Marlin shortstop. Next year, why not Andy Fox? Meanwhile they traded to the Marlins-cum-Cleveland Spiders their best shortstop prospect (Hanley Ramirez) since Nomar was a weird name. Maybe Bud will give the Sox another Mulligan next year to retrieve Ramirez. Why not set up the Marlins to play the KC A's to the Red Sox version of the 1950s Yankees?
Anyway, at least Alex "NMI" can play some D to go with his usually sub-par batting. Alex S. has been shifted from short to third, will be 33 this season, and has been a SABR albatross around his teams' collective necks since his Blue Jay days (a career OBP of .303 for crissake!). He could barely start for the D Rays last year.
So now the Phils have three third basemen, none of which is really good enough to start: David Bell, Abraham Nunez, and Alex S. I guess the plan, if there is one, is to go with Gonzalez (righty) and Nunez (switch-hitter) as a platoon or some recreation of the season finale of American Idol, while Bell in the last year of an ill-advised contract gets traded. There are only two problems: 1) Who will take Bell (and his $4.7 M 2006 salary) off their hands and 2) Nunez-Gonzalez is no better than Bell. Why not just give the job to the relatively inexpensive Tomas Perez?
Alex S. does continue the Phils' tradition of acquiring mediocre analogues to players who were brothers, sons, or some other relative of a superior player. It's creatively efficient to go after players with the same name as a better player. (They did have Dave W. Roberts but was he any worse than Dave A., the pitcher, or the current Dave "NMI"?)
Instead of Greg Maddux, the Phils get his brother Mark. Instead of Al Leiter, get hisbrother Mark. Instead of George Brett, they have his brother Ken. They get Tim Worrell, not Todd. Jeremy, not Jason, Giambi. Tom, not Marty, Barrett. Ron, not Gary, Roenicke Mack, not Zack, Wheat. Vince, not Joe or even Dom, Dimaggio.
Bell's dad Buddy was a far better player. Bob Boone was a pretty good catcher, but nowhere near the hitter his dad Ray was and his sons Bret and Aaron are probably better.
At least the got the right one of the five Delahanty brothers in Ed, though of course he died a mysterious death at Niagara Falls.
The Phils bad luck with relatives of other players goes back to their first manager, Hall of Famer Harry Wright, who was never as good as his brother George as player. And of course, Bill Giles was the main owner of the team for years, a man who booked Spaceman, while his father Warren was a Hall of Fame executive.
I guess if you can't build a tradition of winning, any tradition will do.