As a Minnesota Twins fan, one of the moments I will never forget is Opening Day of the 2008 season, when young Carlos Gomez got the start in centerfield directly opposing his predecessor Torii Hunter. Gomez completely dominated that game both in the field, at the plate, and on the basepaths, and it looked as if he would be one of the most exciting young players to put on a Twins uniform in quite a while.
Unfortunately, it was all downhill from that point (at least so far in his career), and a few weeks ago he was traded to the Brewers for SS J.J. Hardy.
My first reaction to the trade was that we were giving up the cornerstone of the Johan Santana deal, but (looking back) we were really just desperate to unload Johan once he refused our offer in search of a bigger payday, so it’s not like Gomez was the most coveted prospect in the world.
At times, Gomez could be the most exciting player on the field…
He had incredible range out in centerfield, he was lightning-fast rounding the bases, and (come September) he was always good for a few huge hits against the White Sox down the stretch. At times he showed good power, and if he dropped down a good bunt it was nearly impossible to throw him out.
At the same time, though, Go-Go could also be the dumbest player on the field…
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player crash into the wall, take a bad route to a ball, strike out badly on three pitches, or completely lose himself on the bases like Gomez. Ultimately, that proved to be his undoing here in Minny, land of Ron Gardenhire Fundamental Baseball. Plus, he didn’t seem to be making any strides after too full seasons in the major leagues. He was making the same dumb mistakes in the ’09 playoffs that he made at the beginning of 2008.
But let’s take a moment to look at his “ransom”…
J.J. Hardy had been a fan-favorite in Milwaukee (kind of like Joe Crede in Chicago) for his hustle and bat, but suffered through a horrendous 2009 campaign, at one point even being sent down to the minor leagues. The Twins are hoping that he can regain the form of his ’08 year (.283, 24 HR) and anchor the SS position, as Orlanda Cabrera priced himself out of our range.
I guess I would have to say that this is a good trade for the Twins, although there is risk involved in both sides. Hardy could be the next Bret Boone (a sickening thought) while Gomez could star in Brewtown, or Hardy could bat .300 and Gomez could continue to overrun balls and crash into walls. We’ll see what happens.
On a more humorous note, I will perhaps miss this combination most of all:
Greatest interview ever!!