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)
I agree on Gomez, Dave. He needs regular at-bats, and it doesn't seem like he's going to get them with the Twins current outfield situation. But I still have hope that he can harness his talent. As for the Young/Harris for Garza/Bartlett trade, yes it does look good in comparison to the Santana deal, but it's still isn't looking good for the Twins. Garza is looking like an ace, Bartlett has been great, Delmon looks like a DH with no power, and Harris is a utility guy. Delmon's an absolute train wreck in the field.
It seems that Ron Gardenhire just can't make up his mind. a surplus of outfielders has been detrimental to Carlos Gomez's development.
You need to let a 23 year old play every day. either in the majors or the minors. but letting him languish on the bench serves no ones purpose.
Fascinating that you managed to write an entire article on Gomez without once mentioning his defense, which is by far the strongest aspect of his game. Gomez is not only a major-league caliber defender, he's one of the best defensive center fielders in the league, and having him in center allows Span to move to left. That's a great defensive outfield alignment for a fly ball heavy pitching staff. There's more to baseball than offense; run prevention is equally important and Gomez excels in that aspect of the game.
He's also got six hits -- including three doubles -- in his last 15 at-bats, though one couldn't be blamed for not noticing since he has been benched for nearly all of the Twins' games lately.
Gomez has a 600 OPS yet is still above replacement level due to his defense. Contrast that with Delmon Young, who can't hit or field. I don't understand why there isn't more talk about Young... the guy just seems to get worse and worse.
The Twins' best outfield is Span in left, Gomez in center, and Cuddyer in right. Young could certainly use some time in AAA, or he can wallow on the bench... it really doesn't matter to me because I think he'll be with another team by the time he starts putting things together.
I agree with Nick N. that Gomez's "strongest aspect" is his defense. However, that isn't saying much. I disagree with Nick N. that Gomez is "one of the best center fielders in the league." Unless by "league" you mean division and therefore you are correct. He is among the top 8 in the division.
Gomez is amped up and ready to go at any moment but he's not always smart about it. I agree that he is a great athlete but that doesn't make him a great baseball player. He can outrun every fly ball all the way to the wall but he won't get himself into position to throw AFTER the catch. When he does throw, he throws as hard and as far as he can, usually missing the cut-off guy or hurting himself in the process.
I agree that some time in AAA will educate him and help him mature into the baseball player that he, and Nick N, think he is.