Friday, May 08, 2009

Demote Gomez?

Now that Alexi Casilla has been sent to the minors, there have been many calls amongst Twins fans for a follow-up move: a demotion for Carlos Gomez. Howard Sinker went on the record for this cause back in mid-April, and now it seems that everywhere I look -- be it Twins Geek, Seth Speaks, Bleacher Bums, or any number of message boards and comments sections -- fans are clamoring for Gomez to be shipped to Rochester.

I disagreed with Howard a few weeks ago and I still disagree with this sentiment now -- perhaps even more so.

Gomez could probably benefit from some time in Triple-A, I get that. But given that the Twins haven't exactly been playing stellar baseball lately, their main concern at this point ought to be putting the best possible team on the field. Since sending Gomez down would mean regular playing time for Delmon Young, the question becomes which player makes the team better. I think it's almost impossible to argue that point in Young's favor right now.

Clearly, Gomez is a far more valuable defensive player. I've discussed that fact ad nauseum and I don't think there's much debate about it. Certainly, opinions differ as to how much more valuable he is in the field, but there's no denying that the Twins' defense is better with Gomez in center and Denard Span in left than with Span in center and Young in left. Personally, I think that the latter configuration is significantly worse and far more straining on the pitching staff. Others don't believe the gap is that large, or that important.

So, with Gomez clearly bringing more value defensively and on the basepaths, Young needs to be outhitting him in order to justify his spot in the lineup. Is he? Not really -- not by a substantial margin anyway.

Prior to last night's game, Young's OPS was a whopping 10 points higher than that of Gomez. That margin increased a bit with Young's three-hit game last night, but of course all three hits were singles. Young has only two extra-base hits this season (Gomez has five); combine that with a lack of patience and his batting average is about as empty as they get. In spite of his solid .288 average, Young's OPS stands at 671 after last night's game -- bad for anyone, but terrible for a poor-fielding corner outfielder.

One might point to recent trends as the reason Young deserves playing time over Gomez. After all, they might note, Young has eight hits in his last 20 at-bats. But that angle doesn't work, because Gomez has nine hits in his last 20 at-bats. And while all of Young's eight hits were singles, Gomez has mixed three doubles in. AND while Young has posted a 7-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio during that span, Gomez struck out only four times while walking twice.

I don't doubt that some time in Rochester might do Gomez a bit of good, but the Twins have now lost five of their past six games and they need to be focused on putting the players on the field who will help them win. I'm not seeing anything to convince me that Young is helping the team more than Gomez right now. Apparently Ron Gardenhire is, because Gomez has started only three of the Twins' last 13 games. While he was away from the team for a couple days to be with his wife, who was giving birth to their first child, that remains a ridiculous rate of play for the still-developing 23-year-old.

If Gardy is going to relegate Gomez to the bench, then he should be sent down to the minors so he can play regularly. But the plain and simple fact is that Gomez should be starting, and Young should be the fourth outfielder.

11 comments:

trevor said...

totally agree! There seems to be at least 1 play every game where playing gomez & span together would have saved a run or more due to the improved defense. Pitching is the biggest concern right now and we need to be supporting the staff with our best defensive alignment. The OF/DH platoon should consist of Cuddyer, Young and Kubel splitting time based on the opposing pitcher.

Anonymous said...

Post of the year. I've been thinking the same thing to myself over the last few weeks. The Twins have lots of flyball pitchers. They need Gomez in the lineup. Unless Delmon becomes a slg% monster, there's no way he's more valuable than Gomez.

Dan said...

"that remains a ridiculous rate of play for the still-developing 23-year-old."

"But the plain and simple fact is that Gomez should be starting, and Young should be the fourth outfielder."

I agree that Gomez should be starting over Young in the OF, but isn't Delmon also as "still-developing 23-year-old?" It seems like both should be playing full time, and the only way to do that is to send one down to AAA and recall Jason Pridie.

Justin said...

At this point, the statistical comparison between DY and Gomez is largely irrelevant, because Gardy has already made his decision, and that's to keep Gomez on the bench. You can argue about whether that's the right decision or not, but that's how it is right now. As such, Gomez would be much better served playing every day in Triple-A, and the Wings would be happy to have him.

Nick N. said...

1) "I agree that Gomez should be starting over Young in the OF, but isn't Delmon also as "still-developing 23-year-old?" It seems like both should be playing full time, and the only way to do that is to send one down to AAA and recall Jason Pridie."

Unfortunately, sending Young to the minors is not an option, since he's out of options and there's no way he's getting through waivers. Young has now had two full seasons of regular playing time in the majors, plus a month and a half this year of mostly regular time, and he has shown zero improvement. He's the same hitter he was in in 2007 with Tampa Bay. I'm becoming less and less convinced that he's going to suddenly turn the corner with steady at-bats. I certainly don't think the Twins should be trotting him out there regularly while he's hurting the team with this misguided hope that he'll start showing big power. When has he ever given us any signs that this is going to happen?

2) "At this point, the statistical comparison between DY and Gomez is largely irrelevant, because Gardy has already made his decision, and that's to keep Gomez on the bench. You can argue about whether that's the right decision or not, but that's how it is right now."

You may be right, but if the knowledge that Gardenhire or Smith probably aren't going to make the moves I advocate stopped me from writing about them, I wouldn't have much to post on this blog. :)

haasertime said...

So one of the underlying arguments of this post is that Delmon is worse than Gomez, AND will never turn the corner. I don't think many fans would agree with that; mostly because they don't want to. So much for the 'good problem' of four outfielders.

Nick N. said...

I don't mean to give the impression that I don't think Young will ever turn into a decent player. He's still 23 and has plenty of time to figure things out (although I will say he has a lot more progression to make offensively than Gomez in order to turn into a valuable player). My point is that I don't think Young is going to magically put it all together in the very near future if the Twins keep feeding him regular at-bats, and continually trotting him out there with his substandard production is really hurting the team. He might improve a bit, but it seems to me like what you see is what you get for the time being. There's nothing to make me believe he'll start hitting for remotely adequate power any time soon.

Schruender said...

Regardless, it's kind of unfortunate. I remember when Gomez played on Opening Day last year and hit first and stole two bases. At the time I was calling my friends proclaiming the guy to be the next Jose Reyes.

He's still young, and there's still developing to be done. Hopefully he can turn the corner because he is an exciting player like you said in the field and on base. Remember a couple years ago Dustin Pedroia was hitting under .200 after a month's worths of at-bats and people were calling for him to be sent down...

Anonymous said...

Nick, I agreed with this sentiment on my blog. Gomez should be starting every day. Well done!!

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