Sunday, October 21, 2012

When one door closes...

another opens.

With the glut of outfielders the Diamonbacks had, Chris Young had been identified as a potential target for the Sox.  In theory, he could provide what they had hoped Mike Cameron would provide - good defense, a lot of walks, and a low, bbut tolerable average.  With the trade to the Oakland A's, Young is clearly off the market. However, it also means that the A's admittedly no longer have room on the roster for lefty masher Jonny Gomes.

Despite only accumulating 333 plate appearances, striking out in 30% of his plate appearances, and being a below average defensive player, Gomes managed to be a 2 win player last year, according to Fangraphs.  How did he do it?  Well, he absolutely crushes left handed pitchers, putting up a .974 OPS last year and a .904 OPS from 2009-2011.  Against righties, well, it is best if he doesn't face them; a .700 OPS is pretty rough for a corner outfielder, and Gomes has a reputation as a butcher in the outfield.  

So how could the Red Sox use him?  With a rather large vacancy (at least salary wise) in left field, the Red Sox could sign Gomes to play left field against lefties and keep Ross in right.  Against righties, the Sox could stick with Ryan Sweeney in right and play Cody Ross in left.  Alternatively, they could dip into the free agent market and grab a big name, but declining player in Ichiro Suzuki.  A left handed hitter, Ichiro could provide elite defense in right, plus a cannon for an arm, both massive assets in the spacious right field of Fenway. His power is almost completely gone, with his slight power resurgence being completely a product of the Yankee Stadium short porch, but with a high batting average, good speed, and the ability to play center if Ellsbury gets injured, Ichiro could be a great fit for the Sox, too.  

Put Gomes in left and Ross in right against right handers, and Ichiro in right and Ross in left against lefties, and you've got a nice platoon that hides the major weaknesses of Gomes and Ichiro, while emphasizing their strengths.  Whether Ichiro is willing to leave New York is another question entirely, but if he is, he could be a significant contributor.

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