Thursday, March 18, 2010

30 A's in 30 Days – Gio Gonzalez

Acquired: Traded from Chicago White Sox (with OF Ryan Sweeney and SP Fautino De Los Santos) for Nick Swisher (January 3, 2008).
Contract: One year thru 2010. (Not yet eligible for arbitration.)
Position: SP and recovering head case.

Projected ERA: 4.35

Over/Under: Sometimes playing for a small fanbase within the boundaries of baseball obscurity has its benefits. If Gio Gonzalez had posted his phenomenal minor league strikeout rate (10.3 K/9) in Pawtucket or Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, most of you would've heard about him two or three years ago. Instead, A's fans have watched Gonzalez yo-yo back and forth on Interstate-80 – sometimes coming back from, sometimes going back to AAA-Sacramento – while waiting for him to put it all together.

He's got a terrific curveball and a fastball that sits in the low 90s, but when he loses the strike zone with the heater, hitters lay off of everything. Gonzalez has walked 5.5 hitters per nine innings during his short stays in the Majors. He's in the right type of low-pressure environment to turn things around, but pitching coach Curt Young's track record of "fixing" pitchers is poor (Huston Street, Dana Eveland, Sean Gallagher…just off the top of my head). I'll take the OVER.

By the Numbers: 11 – The number of runs Gonzalez surrendered
during a start against the Twins on July 20, last season. In just 2.2 innings, he allowed 10 hits and four home runs, but landed a no-decision when the A's offense rallied from a 12-5 deficit to win the game. After that start, Gonzalez's ERA on the season was 9.33. In his next 13 starts, through the end of the season, his ERA was 4.40.

Surefire 2010 Prediction: Gonzalez is in the mix for the fifth-starter spot this spring. His chief competition is 2009 holdover Trevor Cahill and Vin Mazzaro. Gonzalez has the best stuff of the trio and is capable of putting up the kind of quasi-impressive small sample line in March to win the job. And, he will.

Snoop Dogg Track for the Season:
Ups & Downs

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