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:
Gomes 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 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.