Posted at 6:05 PM on July 21, 2008
by David Zingler
Although many fans have developed an irrational attachment to him, Carlos Gomez is not a good baseball player right now. The 21-year-old is hitting a mediocre .250 with a horrible .285 on-base-percentage and a dreadful .349 slugging percentage. On the road it's even worse: .225/.258/.331.
While the centerfielder showed some speed and power early on, Gomez has not homered since June 6 and has stolen just 4 bases in 10 attempts since May 25. These awful numbers are compounded by the fact that he's a leadoff hitter. Yes, a leadoff hitter that has walked just 15 times against 98 strikeouts. Yikes!
Why is Gomez still the everyday centerfielder when the Twins have another, more productive player who can play that position, you ask? The answer is politics, plain and simple.
Gomez is only player in the big leagues who was acquired in the Johan Santana trade. The two starting pitchers, Phillip Humber and Kevin Mulvey, can't get Triple A hitters out and the other hurler, Deolis Guerra, is toiling at A ball. Even though Santana is underperforming this year, the trade looks like a complete disaster so far and sending Go-Go to Rochester would make it appear even worse.
I am by no means giving up on Gomez, he's still very young and very talented, but right now he's hurting the team. Let Denard Span play his natural position and hit leadoff, the Twins and Gomez (eventually) will be better off for it.
(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
I must admit to having an irrational attachment to Gomez, but even I'll admit it's time to send him down. When/if Cuddyer is ready, I believe that's the time the decision will be made. Gardy maintains that he doesn't like to change things too drastically with young players, but this is too much to be ignored.
One things that consoles me, however, is we happen to have two more young, fast, dynamic, and exciting players in Casilla and Span (who has proven, for now, that he deserves to be here). Three if you add Young to that list, who looks like he might finally be becoming the player that he was expected to be. In summary, the pros outweigh the cons for sending him down, where he can (hopefully) only become a better, smarter player.
Sorry to double post, but I have two more quick thoughts:
1) For those that don't believe that sending a vibrant young player back to the Minor Leagues is a good idea, I would submit the case of Alexi Casilla as how beneficial this can be.
2) After watching the Twins shoot themselves in the foot time and time again tonight as they lost 12-4 to the Yankees, the lone bright spot was Span, going 3-4 and just a home run shy of the cycle. Whatever happens, this kid has absolutely no business being sent back to the Minor Leagues (and to add to my previous point, Casilla went 3-5 with 2 RBIs, far outperforming the rest of the lineup tonight).
I agree that something has to happen with Gomez but I think that sending him down to AAA might be a bit drastic as a first step. There are at bats where he looks like he is desperate and just trying too hard. I think it would be best to start by moving him to the bottom of the lineup. It would certainly help the team and he might benefit from it as well.
I don't think sending him to AAA is that drastic in this case. He can get at bats against lesser pitchers which will help him learn the plate discipline that like so much in Span and Casilla.
They won't and they shouldn't send Gomez to the minors. Worst case (for him) is that he becomes the fourth outfielder when Cuddyer returns (with Span taking over in centerfield). He can start every fifth game or so and, when not starting and batting ninth (as of last night), he would be a great option for pinch runner and/or defensive replacement (span, gomez and cuddyer is a great, defensive outfield) late in games (would probably see action in half the teams' games in this role). No way would the Twins send him to AAA even if they weren't considering his confidence, psyche, etc.
Gomez wouldn't get at bats if he would be a fourth outfielder. How could he mature if he got even less at bats? I say to move him into the 9 spout in th order, and if that don't helf, send him down until someone else in the outfield gets hurt...