The 10 Brewers Critical to 2011 Success: #9, Carlos Gomez

In the time leading up to the start of spring training, I’ve decided to make a countdown of the 10 Brewers that I believe are most critical to their success in the 2011 season. It continues today with number 9.

Continuing the countdown at #9, we find the infamous Carlos Gomez. Gomez is a tough subject with me. He irritates me to the point that I will often flip channels during his at bats, because I don’t want to be put into a bad mood by watching him swing for the fences on a breaking ball in the dirt on 0-2. I tried leaving him off of this list – other positions left off that would be more fun for me to write about included the shortstop’s glove and the middle relievers. Eventually, I accepted the fact that however annoying and clueless Carlos Gomez may be, he will play a pretty significant role for the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers. (Incidentally, check out these graphs that Jordan over at Brew Crew Ball put together showing the projected production from Brewers starting position players and starting pitchers next season. I found it very cool, and it sort of relates to what I’m talking about in this countdown.)

First and foremost, there is defense. Gomez is generally regarded as a very good defensive outfielder, if for nothing other than the fact that his blinding speed enables him to cover a vast amount of center field. That same speed also enables him to catch up to balls that he may not always take the best route to. There is no denying it, though – Gomez plays good center field defense, which is worth quite a bit in this league. Especially on a team like Milwaukee, who could be the worst defensive team in baseball next year, even with Gomez patrolling center. It would be a shame to see the new pitching staff get disheartened over and over again by bad defense, and Gomez will help, at least a little bit.

Then, we get to the other side of the ball. I don’t even want to talk about Gomez’ offense, so I’ll be brief: .246/.293/.349 in 4 major league seasons, with 313 strikeouts to 72 walks. People have been saying it for quite awhile now: if Gomez could just learn some plate discipline and up the OBP a little bit, he could be a seriously valuable asset on offense. Unfortunately, Gomez doesn’t seem to understand, and instead just wants to hit .260. I really hope that Dale Sveum or Ron Roenicke or somebody can get to him this year, but I’m not holding my breath.

Basically, the reason that Gomez falls onto this list is, first and foremost, defense. He is really the only really solid defender (who isn’t a pitcher) that projects to be an everyday player (apart from perhaps Jonathon Lucroy). It is true that Chris Dickerson may platoon with Gomez, which could significantly cut down his playing time – Dickerson bats left-handed, Gomez right – but it seems that the Brewers’ brass are intent on giving Gomez another shot to win the everyday job. There are many people who will even say that you don’t need offense from your centerfielder, as long as he plays good defense. On this team, that may be true. However, given what Gomez and his speed could give to an offense that pledges to run more often, he could be the difference between having a very good offense and an absolutely incredible one. We just have to hope he shows some improvement.

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