Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ok, Let me Clarify

When the trade for Carlos Gomez went down, I was disappointed to say the least. Looking back a couple of days later, while still questioning the move, I have calmed down a bit.

My biggest problem with the trade is it really didn't fit into the path this organization was taking. Gomez is a young player, who could turn out to be good. That talent is unlikely to be realized within the Brewers given time frame to win. With Prince Fielder likely leaving in two years, the Brewers needed to make a decision this offseason. Should they trade him or not? If they do end up trading Fielder, this trade seems to make more sense, but recent quotes from the Brewers organization would suggest otherwise. Thus, the Gomez trade was kind of confusing to me.

Some projections are out for next season. Bill James currently projects Gomez to post a .310 OBP with a .375 slugging percentage. If this projection proves accurate, Gomez would be in store for another sub-.700 OPS season. While the centerfielder is not usually the strongest hitter in a lineup, that kind of production is not what the Brewers need. Like I've said, Gomez is fast, but not that great of a hitter at this point in his career.

The one main encouraging offensive stat I found on Gomez was his walk rate increased this season, while his strikeout rate went down. Gomez walked just 4.2% of the time in 2008, but rose that to 6.5% last season. His K rate in 2008 was 24.6%, but that fell to 22.9%. Neither of those are anywhere near where Gomez needs to be, but with a player like him, baby steps need to be taken.

Gomez' high K/low BB rates are largely due to his free swinging approach. In his career, Gomez has swung at 52% of the pitches he has seen, which is very high for a major league hitter. During those swings, Gomez has chased pitches out of the strike zone 35% of the time, which is again alarmingly high.

Gomez' biggest problem has come when he tries to muscle up. You know the old baseball saying, "you're fast, keep the ball on the ground," well Gomez takes that to new levels. Gomez' career slugging percentage on fly balls is .373. It's tough to realize just how bad that is without a reference point. Well, the major league average for fly balls is over .600. In 2009, Gomez hit a home run on just 3.7% of the fly balls he hit (the league average is around 11%). One reason for these terrible numbers could be his inability to center on pitches. He has an incredibly high amount of pop ups that don't leave the infield. Gomez' infield flyball rate in 2009 was 20%. That means when Gomez hit a ball into the air, 20% of the time it failed to reach the outfield. Gomez is not using his greatest asset, which is his incredible speed.

Carlos' main value to the Brewers is going to be his defense. The ground he is able to cover is simply incredible. The UZR/150 is a way to determine the effectiveness of a defense. Bluntly, it states what a player saves/hurts its team in value per 150 games using runs. In his career, Gomez has averaged a UZR/150 of right around 15. The current outfielders Gomez will be paired with are Ryan Braun and Corey Hart. In 2009, Braun's UZR/150 was a -14.4, while Hart posted a -9.1. One could argue those numbers were negatively influenced by the great range of Mike Cameron, but neither player's defense is gold glove worthy. With a very "average" (and I'm being generous) outfield surrounding him, Gomez should really help the Brewers defense.

If there was any truth to the speculation the Red Sox offered Michael Bowden, I don't understand why Doug Melvin didn't pursue it further. I know the Red Sox were trying to not part ways with Daniel Bard, or Clay Bucholtz, but Bowden is another prized prospect. If Bowden was really offered, I think the Brewers could have figured out a way to pry one those pitchers away by using another piece. Sure Bowden is not in the same class as those two, but he is not miles away from them.

Doug Melvin took a really big risk in putting the teams stock in Carlos Gomez. Gomez seems to be his worst enemy. If he is able to become more selective and keep the ball on the ground, this move could look brilliant for Melvin. I am just not sure if 2010 was the right time to take such a huge gamble on a player that could easily fail.

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