FanPost

Don't give up Johnny Gomes.


When the Red Sox signed Johnny Gomes they were simply looking at a roughly below-average defender, who would only be worth playing against left-handed pitching. What they've gotten so far is a roughly below-average defender who can't hit anything. But like any statistician/Sabermetrician will tell you; it's 130 plate appearances. Gomes is "only" 33, which is past the prime of a player, generally speaking, but not necessarily old either, especially since he is only used sparingly. Meaning that his body shouldn't be wearing down or anything. Again, the reason the Sox doled out 2 years, $10 million to Gomes was to crush lefties and platoon with someone who was capable enough against righties. Gomes' career .381 wOBA against lefties implied why they thought he would be a success. There was reason to think he might not duplicate that at age 33, but there was no reason to think he wouldn't continue to hit them fairly well.

Gomes should regress. Unless a player is hurt. Old. Or perhaps a past PED-user (if you really want to get into the effects of PED's), then there is no reason he shouldn't start hitting again. But Gomes faces a problem. Daniel Nava is playing extremely well offensively in left. Jacoby Ellsbury has a track record of success, and is a very good defense center fielder. Shane Victorino has been oft-injured, but he too is a good defender capable of playing all three positions, and a "heady" player as well. If any one of those guys is hurt for any extended period of time, Jackie Bradley Jr. is next in line to take over full-time, not Gomes. Gomes, even at his best, can't hit righties and as mentioned doesn't really offer anything in the field.

His regression is very possible for the 2013 season, but how exactly is it going to happen. He is blocked from the OF, except to give a player a day off. He is blocked from taking over full time if the Red Sox suffer a long-term injury out there (Jackie Bradley Jr.). At this point, he has to "regress" by filling in periodically, hoping for an injury (not literally hoping, hopefully) or just be a legit bat off the bench against southpaws.

It is possible to make a trade of Gomes. But if the other four outfielders are healthy, then that really can't be done if Bradley is the guy left on the bench. Bradley is still developing and needs to play almost every day, whether that be in the minors, or at the Major League level. Not to mention, Gomes may have use to another team, but he's not cheap, and they definitely aren't getting anything worthwhile in return. And the depth Gomes brings to the Red Sox has obvious use too.

So what the Red Sox have right now in Gomes is a pinch hitter/4th or 5th outfielder, who isn't cheap, yet not expensive by any means. It's not a matter of a poor acquisition this past offseason to pay Gomes. They didn't know Daniel Nava was going to be as good as he currently is. There was no way of knowing that Gomes would be batting .176 and slugging .301. The decision to sign him and go with a platoon at a position where they needed to fill was a fine decision. The Gomes part of the equation just hasn't worked out as planned.

One "plus" in all this is that against lefties this season, Gomes has hit .158/.324/.368. But even though batting average has taken a back seat to on base percentage in recent years, it is a little too low for our comfort. His OBP is roughly league average, and his Slugging is below-average. But if he gets some playing time against lefties, the lack of plate appearances currently, along with some good hitting can shoot those numbers up in a heartbeat.

But I'm not really only trying to justify this. Gomes was brought in to perform against lefties. He hasn't done it. 71 plate appearances against left-handers doesn't say a ton. But he won't have a ton of opportunities to get his numbers back up to their norms, given the current structure of the roster.

So as of now, we are looking at -- most likely -- a capable bench-bat that is being paid as a 1-win player. Not a terrible situation, since depth is very important over the course of 162 game season. Just, so far, not exactly what the Red Sox paid for.

And one more note, he does offer a little security if Ortiz were to suffer an injury, at least when there is a lefty starter on the mound. But hopefully that bridge will never be crossed.

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