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.