It was most likely an unpleasant Easter for Alex Gonzalez after the Detroit Tigers unconditionally released the shortstop after just 15 games.
Gonzalez was picked up by Detroit in the offseason for an injured Jose Iglesias, who continues to sit on the DL with a shin injury for 3-4 months. Gonzalez and Andrew Romine were hailed by Detroit to add some firepower and defense at the all-important shortstop position for the Tigers. However, Gonzalez’s .167 average with only two RBI’s in nine games signaled to Detroit he was not the answer.
To counteract the loss of Gonzalez, Detroit called up second baseman Danny Worth from Triple-A Toledo. Worth played 43 games for Detroit in 2013, batting a paltry .216 with only three RBI’s. With not exactly All-Star numbers, one could question exactly why Detroit made such a drastic move so early in the season with releasing Gonzalez.
Perhaps we should question it. Detroit is still required to pay Gonzalez the entire $1.1 million dollar contract in 2014, despite playing in only nine games for Detroit.
Who pulled the plug on a player who won Opening Day for the team on a walk off? Who made the decision to dump a veteran who has not had time to show his potential at the already weak position for Detroit? His numbers have never been spectacular, with a batting average of only .245 in his 15-year career. Gonzalez’s work at shortstop in 2014 has not been bad, either. Three errors in nine games is not anything to cheer about, but with Iglesias out, Detroit needs to compromise.
At this point, fans of Gonzalez should look towards off-field issues with the veteran shorty. Dombrowski and Ilitch have always been savvy investors with their players. Average play out of an average player has never been an indication of immediate termination by Detroit in the past (i.e. Inge, Raburn). Dropping $1+ million on an important position player, only to release the player a month into the season seems rash.
All we can do at this point is speculate, but do not be surprised if we hear about any extracurricular activities Gonzalez got involved in over the next week.
Richie Cozzolino is host of Tiger Talk for Impact Sports.