Mauro Gomez isn't the man you want to see starting at first, but the man you want to know you can turn to in case of emergency.
A note: This should be Justin Germano's spot, since this series was supposed to be about getting every player who played for the Sox, but there's even less to say about Germano than even folks like Ivan De Jesus. He was last-line-of-defense depth, and then after one good game, gone to be bad for the Cubs. So let's just leave it at that and move on to Mr. Gomez.
Mauro Gomez is the new Jeff Bailey.
He's nice to have around, sure enough. In the minors he put up big numbers, helping Pawtucket to a playoff berth that, frankly, served to give Bryce Brentz a nice boost late in the year. It also can't hurt to give prospects a winning team to play on, since it's always possible that a few of them will actually get invested in that sort of thing even before hitting the majors, and it certainly can't hurt for them to be surrounded by some level of success.
Even as Quadruple-A depth, you could do a lot worse. When Mauro made the jump to the majors, he did not look overmatched at the plate. Sure, he wasn't a monster at the plate--you don't find those in Triple-A at 27 years of age all too often--but he wasn't a black hole either. He's the sort of player who can play for those 15 days while a starter sits out on the disabled list without costing the team games.
At least, that's what he would be if he were used as intended. Unfortunately for Mauro, the Red Sox were a unique kind of mess in 2012, forcing him into some unfortunate, awful adventures at third base. But we shouldn't hold that against him any more than we should hold Pedro Ciriaco's outfield disaster against him. When called into service at a position he was clearly not asked for, Gomez tried, and that's all we can ask.
And really, that's the hit he takes for the team. Like Jeff Bailey, he'll go out there and fill in as needed so that the organization doesn't have to disrupt the players they're looking at for future contributions. Ryan Lavarnway can stay behind the plate instead of having to move to first for emergency duty. That prospect just making the transition to Triple-A can stay down if the team doesn't feel he's ready. The injured infielder can take a couple more days off, even if it will be a circus in the field. The value of a guy like Mauro Gomez is as much in the harm he prevents as what he actually does on the field. More, even.
No, Mauro Gomez is not going to be the starting first baseman next year--or at least we have to hope he won't be. As much as some people like to look at a decent rookie season and dream on sophomore improvements proving Gomez to be a diamond in the rough, guys with his age and experience are what they are. Always good to have in the system, but always a sign that something has gone awry when they actually take the field. If he had a good glove he might be able to make it as a backup like Darnell McDonald did, but frankly that just doesn't seem likely.
Hopefully 2013 will see more of Mauro Gomez dominating in the minors again as he and the Paw Sox (complete with Jackie Bradley, Xander Bogaerts, Bryce Brentz, Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Brandon Workman, Chris Hernandez, Alex Wilson, Ryan Lavarnway*, and Ryan Kalish*) play like a major league team, and less of Mauro Gomez struggling through the majors as he and the Red Sox play like a minor league team.
*Depending on MLB roster construction.