Posted at 7:01 PM on May 5, 2009
by David Zingler
A month into his second full big league season, Twins outfielder Carlos Gomez looks lost. The 23-year-old is languishing on the bench, stressing over his mistakes and pressing too hard when he is in the line-up.
A player of Gomez's age and physical ability needs playing time the Twins can't afford to give him right now. Denard Span is the team's lead-off hitter and a very capable centerfielder, veteran Michael Cuddyer has been on a tear recently and Delmon Young's bat is showing signs of life.
Gomez, who is hitting .213/.260/.340 after a .258/.296/.360 rookie season, probably should have spent the bulk of last year in Triple A as well. The only thing Gomez did to earn the starting centerfield and lead-off spot handed to him in 2008 was be included in the Johan Santana trade. Span outplayed him last spring and was far more polished.
I can't stress what a disaster the Santana trade was and is. To this point, the Twins dealt the best pitcher in baseball for a reserve outfielder. By comparison, the Young/Harris for Garza/Bartlett deal looks like a stroke of genius.
I am not just ranting here either; it ties into my larger point about Gomez. The Twins had to have one player on the roster that came over in the Santana deal. Philip Humber and Kevin Mulvey weren't cracking the rotation and Deolis Guerra hadn't pitched above A ball, so Gomez - a career .278/.339/.399 minor league hitter - "won" a job.
In that political process, Gomez's development may have been permanently stunted. I am often reminded about what a great athlete he is and how a man his size - 6-4, 215 lbs - shouldn't be able to run as fast he does. That's fine, but at this point Gomez is an athlete and not a baseball player; he needs more seasoning.
It's time to do what should have been done in the beginning; send Gomez to Rochester where he can play everyday and learn in a more relaxed atmosphere. It would not only make the Twins a better team today, but also may be the only way Gomez will become the star many think he can be.
(Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)