Handicapping Carlos Gomez

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There are three events that stick out prominently when I think of Carlos Gomez

The first was when Gomez was acquired by the Brewers from Minnesota for shortstop J.J. Hardy.  At that moment, my thought was, “Who’s Carlos Gomez and why didn’t we trade for a pitcher?”

The second event was when I got my first in-person look at Gomez.  I watched him nearly fall over reaching for a slider down and outside.  “Oh my God.”

The third event was on May 21, 2010, when the Brewers played the Twins at Target Field.  I was at the game with my boss, a huge Twins fan, and the Brewers were getting absolutely hammered.  With the Brewers down a bazillion runs, Gomez launched an 8th inning      (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)                                  HR off Nick Blackburn to left field.  After watching it from home plate for what seemed like an eternity, Gomez flipped his bat and hit Joe Mauer.  “Kill me now.”

Gomez has never endeared himself to fans or teammates.  Several Twins players said as much after his home run celebration.  Jim Edmonds essentially accused Gomez of wasting his talent.

Talent is something Gomez has plenty of; blazing speed on the bases and in center field, and a good arm.  But he’s never been able to parlay those skills into a breakthrough offensive campaign.  Gomez’s main downfalls are his lack of plate discipline and his swing-for-the-fences mentality. 

Some believe Gomez is improving.  He is, after all, only 25, and has had a great spring (14 for 35, .400 BA, 2 HR, 3 SB, with only 4 K). 

You can place me firmly in the “skeptic” category, though.  Gomez has a .293 career OBP, and although he’s said all the right things about taking a restrained approach at the plate, he has yet to work the count for a walk this spring.  I’m certainly hoping Gomez has a breakthrough year, but I’m not expecting it by any means.  Dale Sveum is going to have his work cut out keeping Gomez off that slider.

Gomez can almost certainly be expected to steal 30-40 bags if he remains healthy all year.  I think we’ll see modest bumps in Gomez’s batting average (.247) and on base percentage (.298) if he remains committed to his new approach at the dish.  His strikeouts should also decrease from 72 in 2010 (291 attempts).  But I think projecting anything above a .255 BA and .315 OBP is overly optimistic. 

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