As Spring Training approaches, the Yankees’ 2010 lineup, as I see it, is not yet complete. Currently, a pair of of the team’s starting outfielders – Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner – could potentially encounter issues with left-handed pitching this season. If we, for a moment, forego sample size criticism and believe that Curtis Granderson might actually experience some southpaw struggles throughout the year, and that Brett Gardner, who has yet to play a full big-league season, might also meet his share of left-handed offensive woes, then perhaps it would be wise for the Yankees to add a right-handed bat in order to “reverse leverage” a possible and significant split-based weakness. The move would not only serve as a precautionary measure, adding a pinch-hitter for critical in-game situations, but, it would also further the team’s depth, at large, which could be an issue with Nick Johnson on hand as the DH. With Reed Johnson, an ideal candidate to fulfill such a role, off the board, maybe Jonny Gomes is the next best thing?
I have written about Gomes already, outlining his strengths and weaknesses a few weeks ago, however, a quick rehash is in order. In terms of strengths, most importantly, Gomes mashes against left-handed pitching. His career slash line against said southpaws is an impressive .274/.369/.517, indicating a particular talent – a lefty-killer – the Yankees are reportedly seeking. Furthermore, Gomes’ power – he hit 20 home runs last year over 98 games with the Reds (127 OPS+) – would serve as the perfect compliment to Brett Gardner’s lack thereof. Basically, the 29-year old’s bat, against left-handed pitching, is his strength. Now, in terms of Gomes’ weaknesses, it is safe to say that his defense stands as the primary concern. His UZR totals are somewhat fuzzy due to the lack of a sizable data sample, however, based on what we have and can cobble together from scouting reports, the assessment of Gomes’ glove is certainly not flattering. If anything, he is not a good defender, nor is he an average defender. He is clearly sub-par. It is seemingly okay to assume, though, that working as a part-time player would limit such defensive shortcomings.
While some, like our own Matt, may prefer a more well-rounded player with offensive and defensive value like another former Ray, Rocco Baldelli, in my opinion, perhaps it would be best for the Yankees to simply accept Gomes‘ poor glove for what it is, especially with Randy Winn’s great glove now available, and sign him, rather than to rely on a player like Baldelli, who suffers from some severe health issues. Gomes looks like a good pickup given the team’s needs and the current market. Of course, the Reds seem to be closing in on him with a minor-league deal (for a player who hit 20 homers a year ago?), but maybe he would relish the chance to return to the American League East, and to a proven winner.
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