Goodbye Yellow Brick Gomes

By Jason Wojciechowski on November 21, 2012 at 10:45 PM

Happy Thanksgiving to you. Happy Thanksgiving to Jonny Gomes. Happy birthday to Jonny Gomes, too. He agreed today to a two-year, $10 million contract with the Red Sox, per I'm not sure who first, but Susan Slusser has the story.

Gomes had a magnificent season in his one year in Oakland. After signing a mere one-year, $1 million contract last winter, he proceeded to bash the bejesus out of the ball: a .377 OBP and .491 SLG when you spend half your time in Oakland (and play a bunch of games in Anaheim and Seattle) are mighty, mighty figures. They work out, when thrown into the blender at Baseball Prospectus, to a .321 True Average, which, to remind you, is scaled to look like batting average, and has .260 defined as the league average. You'd be impressed by a .321 AVG hitter, right? Well, be that impressed by Gomes.

Or, better yet, as I tweeted earlier today: Gomes finished 19th in baseball in True Average (minimum 83 PA, where I chose 83 because Pete Kozma had 82). Nineteenth! That's really good. There are 30 teams, remember, and there tend to be 13 hitters on each of those teams at any given time.

There's a major caveat, of course: Gomes did much of his damage as a platoon player, grounding lefties into dust while looking more mortal (.209/.324/.391 -- which isn't awful, actually, considering the context) against starboard tossers. But if you're a team looking to sign Gomes, you're not extrapolating his numbers out to a full season. You're not mentally doubling his 333 PA. You're not counting on 4.4 WARP from him because you somehow think he's going to start treating all pitchers equally and fairly. No, you're signing him because you're going to use him exactly the same way the A's did.

Or close enough to the exact way. The Red Sox have this guy at designated hitter, David Ortiz. He's a lefty, so theoretically he could platoon with Gomes, but his career split is not awful and in any case, good luck to John Farrell if his first act as Red Sox manager is telling David Ortiz, the press, and fans that he's going to platoon the DH spot. So Gomes seems bound for left field, which, given that we're talking about half his games being in Fenway, is kind of the same as DH as far as defensive responsibilities. Just park yourself about 20 feet from the wall and wait, right? If Manny Ramirez could do it ...

Anyway, Slusser mentioned in her longer blog post that the A's had made a two-year offer of their own to Gomes during the season, but he rejected it, and rightfully so -- she reports that the dollar figure was about half of what he got from Boston. I don't have mixed emotions about this at all -- I'm happy for Gomes, who seems like a great guy and gets 100% glowing reports on his leadership and general awesomeness and who has had a variety of personal hardships. Nobody gets paid in baseball (ok, capitalism) based on "deserves" but if anybody deserves at least a modest (by baseball standards) cash-in at age 32, it's Jonny Gomes. I hope he goes 0-15 against the A's and bats 1.000 in all his other games.

Chris Young and Chris Carter are unlikely to replace Gomes's production against lefties, but Jonny Gomes was unlikely to do that, either. It's not like he hits for a .321 TAv every year -- his only other season over .290 was in 2005 with Tampa Bay, when he was 24.

Speaking of production against lefties, what are your projected lineups looking like at this point? Take my batting order here with a huge grain of salt. I don't particularly care about it. It's just a thing.

Crisp CF
Sizemore 2B
Cespedes DH
Reddick RF
Carter 1B
Young LF
Donaldson 3B
Norris C
Parrino SS

Crisp CF
Smith DH
Cespedes LF
Reddick RF
Moss/Carter 1B
Sizemore 2B
Donaldson 3B
Kottaras/Norris C
Parrino SS

Caveats and notes:

  • I think Chris Young will get more at-bats than is represented by his status in these lineups as a platoon left-fielder, but that's because players always get hurt, especially Coco Crisp. At full health, I don't know if you can justify him against right-handed pitchers when the switch-hitting Crisp, the lefties Smith and Reddick, and the star Cespedes are available for outfield and DH duties.

  • I think Chris Carter will eventually be a full-time player as Brandon Moss completes his transformation back into a pumpkin. It's entirely possible that Carter begins the year as the everyday first baseman, in fact. For now, though, I think it's fair to pencil in Moss for some of the starts against righties.

  • I don't see the A's giving Norris the short end of a strict platoon. I think Kottaras will get a normal backup's number of starts, but I think they'll be concentrated against right-handed pitchers.

  • Parrino is just in as a default shortstop. Maybe you think it's Rosales or Sogard. I don't have a strong feeling. In my first draft, that position was filled by "SHORTSTOP" but I decided that was silly and just picked someone.

  • If Jemile Weeks comes out ready to turn the clock back to 2011, sub him in for Sizemore and probably adjust the batting order against righties to have him hitting second behind Crisp.

  • I'm entirely unsold on Josh Donaldson, so I think there's a reasonable chance that Grant Green is actually swapped in at that position, either on Opening Day or at some point down the line. He could also step in at second if Donaldson does impress but Weeks and Sizemore fall flat. If he's the starting shortstop, something bad happened.

  • Gosh this team has a lot of moving parts.