Cargo

It’s one thing for Arizona to give up on Carlos Gonzalez, but it’s another when Oakland does the same thing.

No one’s perfect, and even smart people make mistakes when it comes to evaluating young baseball talent. For it to happen twice seems incredible.

There have been many highly-touted failures who wilted under the hot lights of the major leagues, and unheralded players who have had Hall of Fame careers.

“It’s weird two teams trade a player like Carlos Gonzalez,’’ said Vin Scully, the longtime Dodgers’ broadcaster during last Sunday’s 7-6 win by Colorado at Chavez Ravine. “He’s a remarkable player. A five-tool player. But that’s how it goes, I guess.”

In this curious case one could ask how those teams miscalculated so badly. Maybe the Diamondbacks have an excuse because they signed Gonzalez at 16 as an amateur free agent.

It takes time for talent to develop, and sometimes it’s not always obvious. What happened with the Athletics’ front office is harder to explain in part because General Manager Billy Beane is a legendary talent evaluator. The only answer is that even the best slip up.

The Athletics’ fumble has turned into the Rockies’ score, and they haven’t looked back as the 25-year-old left-handed hitting slugger from Venezuela has blossomed into a star.

After pacing the National League in batting average (.336), hits (197), total bases (351) in 2010, with 111 runs, 34 doubles, nine triples, 34 home runs, 117 runs batted in, and 26 stolen bases, Colorado realized what it had and inked Gonzalez, a right fielder, to a seven-year, $80-million contract, the richest ever for a player with three years’ of big-league experience.

In a number of pre-season baseball polls defending World Series champion San Francisco and Colorado were tabbed to battle it out for the top spot in the NL West.

Entering the final month, only the Giants (71-63) have been able to stay with the surprising Diamondbacks (75-59), while the Rockies (64-70) will need a late charge if a playoff spot is in their future.

You play one game at a time, and Gonzalez, who is hitting .299 with 86 RBIs and a .535 slugging percentage and a .369 on-base percentage, will do just that.

Over the weekend, “Cargo,” as he’s called, did his best to keep the Rockies afloat against the Dodgers.

During Sunday’s triumph, Gonzalez singled twice with a double and a run scored, while in Saturday’s 7-6, 11-inning loss had four hits including two bunts and two runs tallied, and in Friday’s 6-1 setback cracked his 24th homer.

Gonzalez’s performance in the middle game is typical of his handiwork at the plate. After Mark Ellis doubled in the third, Gonzalez laced a single to left for an RBI. An inning later, Gonzalez’s base hit drove in pitcher Kevin Millwood as it became 4-0.

In the seventh, Gonzalez laid down a bunt and later scored on Troy Tulowitzki’s line shot down the left-field line that made it 6-5.

Gonzalez has said reaching base is his primary goal, and not belting towering home runs.

Since Gonzalez made his debut on May 30, 2008, with Oakland, he’s been on a tear and it’s been clear sailing ever since.

Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, and is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at richsports5@sbcglobal.net.

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