Going Gonzo Again

As the 2006 season wound down the Arizona Diamondbacks had a decision to make.  Do they pick up the option on left fielder Luis Gonzalez or do they part ways with their most popular player in franchise history.

The outcome has been well documented in baseball circles.  Gonzalez met with Diamondbacks owner Jeff Moorad and General Manager Josh Byrnes who expressed their appreciation for “Gonzo” and his accomplishments but explained that the team wanted to go a different direction.

The confrontation left a bitter taste with Gonzalez as well as the fans.  In the stands there were several strong words towards the current ownership and their lack of loyalty.  Prior to the 2007 season Gonzalez signed a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Playing for the hated Dodgers would allow Gonzalez to show the Diamondbacks he could still play and would also keep him close to his family who still resided in Arizona.  The 2007 season did not necessarily work out the way Gonzo had wanted.  IMG_5392The Diamondbacks won the National League Western Division and went all the way to the National League Championship Series while the Dodgers failed to make the playoffs.

To further complicate matters, the Dodgers like the Diamondbacks the previous year met with Gonzalez to express gratitude for his services but to explain that the team was going a different direction.  At the end of the season Los Angeles parted ways with Gonzalez and he was once again a free agent.

Gonzo ended up signing a one-year contract with the Florida Marlins and had a decent season but in the second half of the season he saw his playing time diminish as the Marlins attempted to get younger in the outfield.

For the third straight year Luis Gonzalez was a free agent.  This time teams didn’t call offering a contract to the veteran.  As Spring Training arrived, Gonzalez was at home while other players reported to camp.

Opening Day came and went and still no one called.  As the trade deadline arrived there were thoughts that perhaps someone would need a veteran hitter and call on his services. Instead he found himself for the first time in a long time without a job in baseball.

When the Diamondbacks had that fateful meeting in 2006 they expressed a desire to have Luis Gonzalez come to work for them when his playing days were over.  During this season Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall reached out to Gonzalez and invited him down to Chase Field.

That meeting went very well and the dialog continued.  Gonzalez has all but concluded that his days as a player are probably over and it is now time to open a new chapter in his life.  That chapter appears to include the Arizona Diamondbacks once again.

During the upcoming home stand the Diamondbacks will hold a Luis Gonzalez Appreciation Night on August 29.  He will be honored for all that he did during his career with the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The team had offered to sign Gonzalez to a short-term contract to allow him to retire as an Arizona Diamondback.  Gonzalez declined the offer.

For now it looks as if the Diamondbacks favorite son has made amends with the team where he had his greatest success and will be joining the Diamondbacks front office in some capacity.  I think the Diamondbacks should be commended for reaching out and reconnecting with its past and bringing one of the “good guys” back to Chase Field.

Hopefully when Randy Johnson’s career is over there will be a similar amends.  He too will forever be linked to the purple and teal of the Arizona Diamondbacks and would be a valuable resource to the organization.

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