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Entries in Jonny Gomes (5)

Monday
Jan272014

Sizemore Unlikely to Beat Out Bradley Jr. for CF Job in Boston

By now, Grady Sizemore was supposed to be burnishing his Hall of Fame credentials. Sizemore had it all -- power, speed, strike-zone awareness, Grady's Ladies -- and was about as valuable during his age 22 to 25 seasons (24.6 Wins Above Replacement) as Frank Robinson, Derek Jeter and Ken Griffey Jr. But today, the Indians' erstwhile franchise center fielder is merely a 31-year-old scrapping for a roster spot with the Red Sox following seven surgical procedures that have prevented him from taking the field since September 22, 2011.

What do the defending World Series champions see in Sizemore, whom they signed to a one-year, $750,000 deal that could reach $6 million if he hits performance bonuses? Where could he contribute in 2014? Here are a couple ways that Boston could deploy Sizemore, assuming he makes it through spring training in one piece.

A Jackie Bradley Jr. alternative in center field

This seems to be the angle that's getting the most play in the media. Boston, looking to replace new Yankee Jacoby Ellsbury in center, might be reluctant to give an everyday job to Bradley Jr., given the 23-year-old's wretched showing in the majors last season (.189 AVG/.280 OBP/.337 SLG in 107 plate appearances). It's a sexy story ("broken down star beats out hot shot youngster"), but Sizemore likely won't be trotting out to the middle pasture come opening day.

For one thing, Bradley Jr. is still highly promising. The former South Carolina star has a career .297/.404/.471 line in the minors, blending superb plate patience with mid-range power. He's also a gazelle in center field, with MLB.com's Jim Callis dubbing Bradley the best defensive outfield prospect in the game. Sure, he was terrible in limited playing time in 2013, but it's hardly unprecedented for a top young player to flail initially and then go on to have a great career. Dustin Pedroia, for example, had an even worse showing at the plate than Bradley (.191/.258/.303 in 98 plate appearances back in 2006). When he got off to a .182/.308/.236 start in April of 2007, some were ready to cut bait. Sometimes, it takes prospects a few hundred ABs to get acclimated.

Bradley's main issue last year was contact, as he punched out in 29 percent of his plate appearances. He had a particularly difficult time squaring up high pitches (he swung and missed 27.1 percent of the time, compared to the 20.3 percent MLB average). But there's not much reason to think he'll whiff like Pedro Alvarez or Mark Reynolds moving forward -- Bradley struck out a modest 17.4 percent of the time on the farm. Chances are Bradley gets on base, drives pitches into the gaps and tracks down fly balls like a boss in 2014.

We also have no idea whether Sizemore is actually capable of playing center field at this point. Advanced defensive metrics like Ultimate Zone Rating considered him a plus fielder during his halcyon days in Cleveland (+4.3 runs saved compared to an average player per 150 games), but that was before Sizemore had microfracture surgery on both knees. Maybe he can still fly, or maybe he gimps around like Kirk Gibson in the '88 World Series. We won't know until he takes the field.

Jonny Gomes' platoon partner in left field

This scenario looks more plausible, though Daniel Nava is more deserving as a guy who thumps righties (.303/.401/.459 in 2012-13) and isn't coming off a two-year respite. Gomes obliterates left-handed pitching (.277/.387/.494 over the past three seasons) but gets shut down by righties (.205/.314/.382). He also plays defense like a guy who had microfracture surgery yesterday. Sizemore, meanwhile, still managed to inflict some damage versus right-handers while his body betrayed him (.254/.333/.450 from 2009-11). A Sizemore-Gomes platoon could be productive. Of course, a Nava-Gomes platoon is already productive.

Mike Carp also hits righties pretty well (.258/.333/.449 from 2011-13). He could be swapped, though I wouldn't bet on GM Ben Cherington showing that much faith in Sizemore's durability.

Sizemore's role in Boston is about what you'd expect for a guy who hasn't seen live pitching since beer-and-chicken-gate -- he doesn't really have one right now. He could contribute, and he has far more upside than your typical 30-something scrapheap sign. Still, nobody's counting on him to crack the opening day roster, much less usurp a top prospect like Bradley.

Saturday
Mar092013

Gomes loves lefties; Righties loves Gomes

When you look at the numbers that Jonny Gomes puts up against lefties, you are put into the mindset that the Red Sox made one of the best free agent signings of the offseason.

Gomes versus lefties

Last season, Gomes hit .299, the 11th best average for all those with at least 190 PA against southpaws. We are talking all-star territory. Derek Jeter was on the top of this list at .364. Adrian Gonzalez ranked sixth at .322 and David Wright seventh at .320. But behind Gomes, was Josh Hamilton at .291 and Joe Mauer at .287. Further back were Bryce Harper at .240, Robinson Cano hitting just .239 and, prepare yourself Reds' fans, Shin-Soo Choo at .199.  

Pity the lefty pitcher who gets a pitch anywhere near the center of the strike zone. In that area alone Gomes hit .418. And pitches up in the zone, Gomes raked at .382.

But sadly for Gomes and the Red Sox, Gomes has to face righties as well.

Gomes versus righties

Last season, Gomes hit .209, the 320th best average for all those with at least 130 PA against righties. We are talking designated-for-assignment territory.

Obviously, I can't list all the players ahead of Gomes but I will tell you that Joey Votto and Robinson Cano were on top of this list at .359. The aforementioned Choo hit .327, as did Carlos Ruiz and Miguel CabreraMarco Scutaro and Andrew McCutchen each hit 100 points higher than Gomes. But even Jose Molina hit .235. Clint Barmes hit .217 and Dustin Ackley hit .215.

Gomes against righties has more holes than Dunkin' Donuts 

  • On pitches that were up, he hit .160.
  • Pitches that were down, he hit .132.
  • Pitches on the outside, he hit .143.
  • Pitches on the inside he hit .173.
  • He chased many pitches out of the strike zone and hit .053.
  • He was 7-51 against fastballs. That's .137.
  • He was 0-12 against curveballs. 

I began by mentioning that when you look at the numbers that Gomes puts up against lefties, you are put into the mindset that the Red Sox made one of the best free agent signings of the offseason. But clearly, that is only half the story and the reality is, it really may not even be half, because the Sox will need to have another player to face righties as they sit Gomes. 

One last point, in case you were curious,over the last four seasons, Gomes has hit .225 against righties and his .209 last season was an improvement over his .167 in 2011.

Monday
Nov262012

Monster Mash: Red Sox Land New Corner Outfielder in Jonny Gomes

Throughout the offseason, the Red Sox have been working on a deal with free agent outfielder Cody Ross to keep him in a Red Sox uniform for the foreseeable future. With the chance that they could lose out on a bidding war for his services, the Red Sox acquired a right handed hitting force in Jonny Gomes for 2 years and $10 million. With the way the market is playing out, this could turn into a steal for the team, as there is slim picking for quality corner outfielders.

The Red Sox need to return to playing better in Fenway Park this season. After many seasons of success at home, Boston lost more contests at home than it won, which did not please the Fenway Faithful. Gomes has had an incredible power stroke for his career, albeit low AVG numbers. Boston is trying to return to its roots and the strategy that won them a championship: seeing pitches and getting on base. Gomes had a .377 OBP last season, which was significantly higher than Cody Ross (.326). Considering the difference in price there could be between these two contracts, Boston may have made the correct call. This will not stop them from attempting to bring in Ross to man the other corner position, but having the powerful bat of Gomes next year certainly will not hurt them.

Take a look at his hit chart below:

Jonny Gomes hit spread for 2012 with the Oakland AthleticsGomes was quite clearly a dead-pull hitter; all eighteen of his home runs and eight of his ten doubles went to left field. This is the kind of hitter the Red Sox would love to have hitting balls in Fenway, considering the looming wall in left field. 

Gomes has also had excellent career splits versus left-handed pitching, something that has been lacking in Boston over the last few years. He joins the Red Sox after a season in which he compiled a .974 OPS against lefties including eleven of his eighteen home runs. That number would have made him third on the team behind David Ortiz and Ross.

Gomes SLUG versus left-handed pitching in 2012

Gomes will be a great fit as a hitter at Fenway Park, and if he manages to learn the wall in left field, his limited fielding ability may not hurt the Red Sox all that much. Pending other moves that the team makes, he could be in a platoon role with other players, serving primarily as a player when the team faces lefties. He is also well known as an excellent clubhouse presence, something the Sox need in spades. 

In limited time during the 2012 season (97 games, 333 PA), Gomes put up a stat line of .262/.377/.491/.868/18/47 (AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS/HR/RBI). If given an opportunity, Gomes could provide very similar numbers to Jason Bay circa 2009 during his brief tenure with the team (.267/.384/.537/.921/36/119). This would be a welcome addition and at $5 million per year, it could be one of the biggest steals of the offseason.