“Goodbye-Good Player-Good Guy”
Two things came to mind when I got a text around midnight from a longtime friend-beat writer from New York.
Item 1….Padres fans booing him relentlessly.
Item 2…I.t ended oh so quickly.
And like that, as Monday dawned, Adrian Gonzalez was out of baseball.
In a surprise move, the New York Mets released the veteran all star power hitting first baseman, in the midst of a terrible tailspin, by the player and by his team.
The Mets started the season (11-1), and it has been a downhill slope since then, a team ravaged by injuries.
The season started with Adrian Gonzalez hitting (.311) early, but ended with 3-straight strikeouts, and a (.237) batting average, followed his release late at night.
It has been quite a career for the San Diego-Tijuana native. The gifted career at Eastlake High in Chula Vista. A first round draft pick. A trade before he ever reached the majors. And season after season of accomplishments.
The booming home runs to the opposite fields disappeared. The screaming doubles into power allies ended. The swift work of the glove at first base ceased.
And in a short half season span, his gifts left him.
Gonzalez, a fierce off season workout warrior, developed neck, then back problems a year ago, and the tailspin was fast. He never got to the World Series last year with the Dodgers, leaving to do rehab, and then going to Italy, to move his family.
There would be no comeback this year, for LA in a salary dump, dealt him to Atlanta, which in turn bough him out, so he could sign with the Mets. That didn’t work out, and now there’s no place for him to go work.
A first round pick of the Florida Marlins, he never got to Miami. Dealt to the Texas Rangers. Then Texas shipped him to the Padres. The Padres flipped him to Boston. Boston dealt him to the big dollar Dodgers. LA-to-Atlanta to New York.
It is odd though. He was moved in blockbuster deals, that always helped the club he went to and ruined the teams he left.
The Marlins dealt the young Gonzalez for relief pitcher Ugeth Urbina. A win for the Rangers.
The Padres got 5-years of quality play from Gonzalez and pitcher Chris Young. The Rangers got stuck with injured pitcher Adam Eaton and end of run reliever Akin Otsuka. A win for San Diego.
Unable to pay him going forward, Gonzalez went to Boston in a huge trade for Anthony Rizzo, Casey Kelly and more. He did well at Fenway Park, got a big contract extension, the Padres gave up on Rizzo in a deal that netted them Andrew Cashner. Not much in return eh?
Then in a blockbuster transaction, the RedSox shipped lots of contracts, Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and more for James Loney and minor leaguers. LA got great results, while Boston got rid of contracts.
Then last winter in a stunner, Gonzalez went to Atlanta in a salary dump with Atlanta. You take my bad contract, I’ll take yours. Matt Kemp came back home, but Gonzalez was gone, bought out by the Braves. Kemp is hitting (.334) in a contract year in LA.
His longevity was amazing. 15-years worth of dedication, a lifetime (.287) average….317-home runs…437-douldes….782-walks…..and a (.485) slugging percentage. Lost in all the stats, the most amazing one, a (.995) fielding percentage at a very busy position.
2-Silver Slugger bats, 5-Gold Gloves, All Star Game honors.
He became a star at the right time, even if he seldom played in the postseason, his Red Sox years being special, as well as playing in Dodgers Blue. He was rewarded, making 157M in his career.
He comes home knowing his body has broken down, but he leaves baseball likely with great respect from so many people.
Padres fans booed him every at bat in recent years, as a Dodger and a Met. Next time they see him, maybe in a ceremony at Petco Park, they should cheer him.
He gave everything he could for so very long. Big hits, big plays with the glove, always going the opposite way with his drives. He gave to the two city community he played for here in San Diego-Tijuana thru his charity work.
Adrian Gonzalez-gonzo. Good Guy. Good Person too.