Today the Brewers shipped off J.J. Hardy to Minnesota in exchange for Carlos Gomez. While I understand what Doug Melvin is thinking here, I don't agree with it.
In Gomez, Melvin has stated the "Brewers have found their future centerfielder." My question is why? What has Carlos Gomez done in the major leagues that warrants this type of guarantee?
Carlos Gomez biggest asset is his defense. I remember going to a couple of Twins games and being frustrated watching Gomez run down ball after ball in the gap. He is arguably the fastest player in the game today.
Problem for the Brewers is that Gomez can't steal first base. He just can't hit, period. His on base percentage last season was .287. Yes, you read that correctly, .287. I know what you're thinking, it must have been a down year. Well, in 2008 he walked just 25 times in 577 at bats, posting a .296 on base percentage in the process. Those numbers are simply incredible. If Gomez bats anywhere but eighth next, the Brewers are in trouble.
In Hardy, the Twins are getting one of the better shortstops in the game. Hardy is coming off a rough 2009 offensively, but maintained his amazing defensive prowess. There is little doubt in my mind Hardy will rebound offensively and help the Twins offense next season.
Sure Gomez is under team control for the next four years, but he is not the answer. I don't understand why Melvin forced his hand so soon. Hardy was the best shortstop available via trades, or free agency. He really back himself in a corner when he stated either Hardy or Escobar would be traded. Escobar was obviously going to be the starting shortstop in 2010, but there is no sense in trading Hardy just for the sake of making a trade. Hardy was only going to make $4.5 million next season. While that would expensive for a bench player, Hardy could have raised his trade value. Starting Hardy in 2010 made sense because I'm not sure how ready Escobar is. Escobar would have benefited from more seasoning down at AAA.
With the trade, the likely lineup today looks like this.
All I can say is yikes. This lineup would likely score 50-60 less runs than the 2009 Brewers. Sure the top five are solid, but the bottom of the order would struggle mightily. Kendall remains unsigned and now is the main piece the Brewers can improve on in 2010. His offense inabilities were somewhat hidden amongst high run outputs, but his spot now needs production.
The trade also lays out the offseason. It is highly unlikely Mike Cameron will be back next season. While he continues to age, Cameron's numbers have not slipped. It will be a tough transition next season for the Brewers offense. Losing Cameron in favor of Carlos Gomez is a huge downgrade offensively. I wasn't completely opposed to letting Cameron go, but not giving the job to Carlos Gomez. Jody Gerut is now the best option in CF. There is no doubt in my mind Gerut would outproduce Gomez in 2010. I just cringe to think that Gomez might see 600 at bats next season.
While losing Cameron will hurt run production, money has been opened up. Melvin still plans to add two starting pitchers and now has money to spend. I look for the Brewers to be active in free agency. The top starting pitching option remains John Lackey. This trade only strengthen the chances of Lackey wearing a Brewers jersey next season.
Words cannot express how disappointed I am in this trade. I have generally been a supporter of Melvin in the past, but this is inexcusable. Trading coveted shortstops for below average players is not the way to improve this team. Prince Fielder is most likely going to leave in two years. The window to win was closing, but a trade like this might just close it for good.