Saturday, November 7, 2009

That Didn't Take Long: Gomez In, Hardy Out

I was at work yesterday sitting in my cubicle when the news came down. It had to be sometime between 10:30am and 11am. All of a sudden my cell phone began to vibrate, pick it up. It was a text message from 540 ESPN. I hit "read" and there it was: "Brewers trade SS JJ Hardy to Twins for CF Carlos Gomez.", my initial reaction was, "what the fuck? Really? We didn't trade him for starting pitching?" Then I immediately turned my thoughts toward the fact that this guaranteed the Brewers would not be bringing Mike Cameron back in 2010 to play CF. Which I was hoping they would, but at a lesser rate then the $10 mill Mike made each of the past two seasons. This made me beg the following question to one of my coworkers: "Will the Brewers still untuck after each victory with Cameron no longer on the team?" Back to that matter at hand, JJ Hard for Carlos Gomez. I'm not exactly sure how I feel about the trade. But I think I like it, mostly based off the fact of the potential of Carlos Gomez and that I think Alcides Escobar is going to be a way better player then JJ Hardy ever dreamed of.

What I know about Carlos Gomez is that he is one of the fastest players in all of MLB, plays outstanding defense in CF, was a major prospect in the Mets organization who was traded to the Twins as the main piece in the Johan Santana trade and he has VASTLY UNDERACHIEVED as a offensive player so far. But he is only 24 (turns 24 in December). So he still has upside and there is still time for Gomez to turn it around offensively. His biggest problem is he strikes out too much for a player of his talents and does not get on base enough (.292 career OBP). With Gomez over Cameron, the Brewers will lose nothing as far as defense goes. They will however lose power, which the same can be said going from Hardy to Escobar at SS. If, and I know this is an "if", they (Escobar/Gomez) can hit for average and get on base they will reek havoc on the base paths by stealing bases and being able to go 1B to 3B and 2B to Home on base hits by other players. But the key will be striking out less and taking more walks. Something hitting coach Dale Sveum will have to stress to these two particular hitters. They also need to try to bunt for hits to get on base more. One more thing on the power drop Hardy/Cameron to Escobar/Gomez, scouts and GM Doug Melvin believe over time Escobar and Gomez could develop more power in their games over time.

Maybe the most exciting thing about this trade has nothing to do with the players involved in the deal. It has to do with the fact that Jason Kendall will now more then likely NOT be back in 2010. There is no way the Brewers can have Escobar/Gomez/Kendall all in the everyday lineup. If you are giving up power for speed at CF and SS you can't have a catcher with virtually no power (.305 SLG, 2 HR, 19 2B from Kendall in 2009) or for that matter even doubles power. So I think Doug will either look to trade for a catcher who has a little pop in his bat (Ryan Doumit?) or Jonathan Lucroy may get the chance to be the everyday catcher. Doug did mention this when on Sportsradio 1250 yesterday. Lucroy would be making the jump from AA to the big leagues but other catchers have made the move before and been successful.

So while the Brewers did not get starting pitching help for JJ Hardy, they did get a exciting young CF with lots of potential. They also saved themselves about $17 mill that would have went to Cameron and Hardy. So they have some more money to spend on a free agent pitcher or a pitcher in another trade. I still think the Brewers will move either Gamel or McGehee and may also move Hart and with Gomez now in the fold I think Lorenzo Cain could be trade bait. So lots of possibilities yet in a very long offseason that is just getting rolling. My final verdict on the trade is that I do like it, but Gomez has to get on base more. If he can get that OBP up to even .340 or .350 that would be huge. Because his speed is amazing and if he can consistently get on base he could be a huge weapon for the Brewers. Time will tell.

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