Saturday, August 7, 2010

The CF Debate (Or Lack There Of)

If the Milwaukee Brewers are lacking one thing, it's a deep farm system. Prospects have not progressed well, or have been dealt and that has left Milwaukee scrambling to find help.

However, one prospect has made his way back from injury and into the plans of the Brewers organization: Lorenzo Cain.

When Doug Melvin traded for Carlos Gomez this offseason, he thought he was getting his centerfielder of the future. "Carlos brings to our club great speed, athleticism and energy at a position that we needed to fill," Melvin said. By those statements, one can assume Melvin expected Carlos Gomez to fill the centerfield void left after Mike Cameron departed to free agency. Problem for Melvin and the Brewers is that speed, athleticism and energy don't always lead to talent.

Is Carlos Gomez fast? Yes

Is Carlos Gomez athletic? Yes

Does he bring energy? Sure

Is he a good baseball player? No

Gomez has shown the exact same problems that plagued his in the Twin Cities. He doesn't walk. He doesn't hit for power. He strikes out way too much and, to put it lightly, he is lacking baseball knowledge. For further explanation, check this play out. Gomez leads the team in outs on the bases: a category you don't want to be atop.

The problem with Gomez is he just doesn't get on base. Entering today, Gomez is hitting .228/.286/.350/.636 in 75 games this season. With this season, Gomez' career OBP in the majors is a horrid .291. His plate discipline can only be defined as terrible. This season, Gomez has struck out four times per every walk he draws. Those are just numbers that don't belong in the major leagues.

Cain, 24, has a much better track record for success in his pro career than Gomez. Although not touted as a 'top prospect' like Gomez has always been billed, he has outperformed him at every level.

This season, Cain has spent time in both AAA Nashville and AA Hunstville. Combined between his two stops, Cain has posted a .317 batting average and a very promising .402 on base percentage. I know many fans like the speed Gomez has, but Cain also has shown his burners. Better yet, he knows when to use it.

I've never really been a huge fan of the stolen base, but when used effectively, it can be a nice weapon. With Cain, he has that weapon. This season, Cain has stolen 26 bases and only been caught three times for an 89% success rate. Cain also has nine triples on the season and 11 doubles.

One big question on Cain was his 2009 season when he hit just .218/.294/.330/.624. Cain tore his PCL early in the 2009 season and never really recovered. He was only able to log 206 at bats. Considering his past success and the small sample size, it pretty reasonable to throw out his 2009 numbers.

One big thing both players have in common is they still have options remaining. This means the Brewers could send Carlos Gomez to the minor leagues and not have to wait and see if he clears waivers. Why play Gomez over Cain when he gets back? Cain has a much higher ceiling and could have a positive impact on the future of this team. Sure Gomez was once considered an 'A-level' prospect, but just because he was labeled that by scouts does not make him a good player. If the Brewers are smart, the majority of the playing time this season should go to Lorenzo Cain. It's time to admit the Gomez trade was a mistake. Let's not make it worse by stunting the growth of a talented young player like Cain.

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