The Chicago Cubs signed Marwin Gonzalez as an amateur free agent in 2005 but lost him in the 2011 Rule V draft to the Red Sox who then traded him to the Houston Astros. Gonzalez had to stay on the Astros roster all season, or he would have been offered back to the Cubs. The Astros GM at the time was Ed Wade, who saw the value of a player with the versatility of Gonzalez, but he wasn’t around as GM for too long to enjoy him. Gonzalez is a guy who is key for the Astros, and could be a big factor in a potential playoff run.
While Gonzalez is the grizzled veteran on this Astros team filled with youth, he still has a way to interact with the kids. I know Gonzalez is only 26, but he is a leader on the team. He has played through some of the Astros 100 loss seasons and is now seeing the fruits of his labor in the 2015 season. The Astros have done a great job of drafting stars who can be building blocks to build a strong team around, but you need the complementary players like Gonzalez.
There was some talk in the offseason, after Matt Dominguez‘s struggles in 2014, that Gonzalez could be the starter at third base until Carlos Correa was ready, and Jed Lowrie would take over. However, Astros GM realized that Gonzalez’s value was not as a starter, but as a versatile player who could play all over the infield. When Lowrie went out with the injury, Gonzalez paired up with Jonathan Villar to try to patch the hole at shortstop. When this combination didn’t work, the Astros finally brought up the mega prospect Correa.
Gonzalez’s value is as a player who can relieve players at all the positions around the infield, but with the struggles of Chris Carter and the streakiness of Luis Valbuena, he might get more playing time at first base. While I sometimes cringe when he does his toe tap at first to get the outs instead of keeping feet on the bag, he covers well there. With the return of Lance McCullers Jr. to the rotation soon, the Astros could afford to part with Carter to open a roster spot.
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While Gonzalez is no Jeff Bagwell or Lance Berkman at the plate, he offers something many Astros hitters can’t with low strikeout ability and decent on-base skills. He doesn’t really do any one skill well; he does offer skills in every aspect of the game. He showed his versatility again last night by playing left field.
On the season, Gonzalez has a slash line of .274/ .313/ .444/ .757 slash line while hitting eight homers and 26 RBI.
What type of impact could Gonzalez offer for the 2015 Astros playoff run, picture a Marco Scutaro impact that the Giants had in their World Series appearance a few years back. Gonzalez hit the game winning home run last night to send the Houston Astros fans’ home happy. The best thing about Gonzalez is that he will not become a free agent until 2018, so he could help the Astros reach the 2017 World Series as Sports Illustrated predicted.