A year ago, the Brewers set out to revamp their bullpen. They signed Tom Gorzelanny to a two-year deal and traded for Burke Badenhop to shore up what had been one of the game's worst relief corps a season earlier. They also added a lefthanded veteran with closing experience in Michael Gonzalez.
In case you've forgotten, the Brewers don't have a very good recent track record with veteran relievers. Guys like Eric Gagne, David Riske, Francisco Rodriguez and even LaTroy Hawkins have pocketed a lot of money from the team in the last decade while making minimal contributions. Unfortunately, Mike Gonzalez can now be added to that list.
It was a bad sign for things to come when Gonzalez made his Brewers debut in the seventh inning on April 2, faced three batters and allowed them all to reach in an 8-4 loss to the Rockies. He walked a batter in that game and control was a recurring issue all season for him, as he walked 4.5 batters per nine innings. He did not allow a home run in that game, but still gave up ten in 50 innings of work.
For the second straight season Gonzalez gave the Brewers a lefty who they primarily used against lefties, but who struggled to get lefties out. Gonzalez allowed opposing lefthanded batters to hit .274/.336/.443 against him, but still faced them 118 times. Righties also rocked him to the tune of .293/.393/.535.
Somehow, though, despite all his struggles, Gonzalez still led all Brewers and finished fourth in the NL with 75 relief appearances. That's absolutely mind-boggling to me.
At the very least, I think one should hope the Brewers have learned their lesson here. Sadly, there's an indication that's not the case. Here's a line from Adam McCalvy's recent story on the Badenhop trade:
Melvin will still monitor the relief market this winter but is more interested in a left-hander to pair withTom Gorzelanny and, more important, someone with closing experience to pair with Jim Henderson.
Gonzalez mostly pitched in short outings this season (demonstrated by the fact that he pitched just 50 innings in 75 appearances), but on May 31 the Brewers called upon him to record five outs to protect a 7-5 lead against the Phillies. He retired five batters in order on just 14 pitches, recording a pair of strikeouts. One of those K's came against Domonic Brown, who had already homered twice in the game.
MLB.com doesn't have any highlights from his performance in that game, so here's Gonzalez pitching a scoreless eighth against the Dodgers on May 20:
Gonzalez made $2.25 million with the Brewers in 2013, and is a free agent this winter.
Previous MVBrewers posts can be seen at the links below:
Lesser Brewers: Burke Badenhop, Francisco Rodriguez, Jimmy Nelson, Donovan Hand, Sean Halton, Martin Maldonado, Hiram Burgos, Alfredo Figaro, Michael Blazek, Mike Fiers, Juan Francisco, Chris Narveson, Alex Gonzalez