Goodbye Yellow Brick Gomes
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.
Caveats and notes:
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