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Oakland A's to Sign Jonny Gomes

Tom DubberkeCorrespondent IJanuary 19, 2012

mlbtraderumors.com reports that the A’s are on the verge of signing corner outfielder Jonny Gomes.  On paper, it’s a brilliant move.

It’s been a pretty grim off-season for A’s fans, as the team seems determined to trade away the core of their pitching staff for a bunch of prospects who may or may not ever amount to anything.  One thing is certain, though.  The prospects aren’t likely to do much to help the A’s win in 2012.

The A’s are building for the eventual move to San Jose, which may or may not happen one day.  (This post could easily turn into a diatribe about what a turd Bud Selig is, particularly why he hasn’t pushed through the obvious solution — let the A’s play in San Jose and get construction on the new stadium started and find a way to pay off the Giants for their territorial rights with cold, hard cash — but that’s not the point of this post.)

The A’s recently traded for Seth Smith, a move that really didn’t excite me at all.  At least with the A’s signing Gomes, you can see a little a Money-Ball thinking behind it all.

In theory, Smith and Gomes are the perfect platoon combination.  Smith is terrific against right-handed pitchers, but can’t hit southpaws a lick (.881 career OPS against RHP; .588 career OPS against LHP).

Jonny Gomes is exactly the opposite.  He wears out lefties, but can’t hit right-handers well enough to start at the corner outfield positions (.877 career OPS against LHP; .733 OPS against RHP).

If you played Smith only against righties and Gomes only against lefties, you would have one hell of a left-fielder at a bargain price, not mention at least one really good platoon pinch hitter ready to come off the bench.

As I said, in theory it looks like an ideal arrangement.  In practice, I’m not quite so sure.

They’re both getting a little long in the tooth for the kinds of players they are.  More importantly, they are leaving good or great hitters’ parks in the NL (note that Gomes hit quite a bit better in Cinci than he did in Washington) to come to the worst hitters’ park in the AL.  It would be surprising if one of the two did not fall flat on his face in 2012 given this change, heavy platoon play or no.

One thing to be said for Gomes, given how his career has gone (he’s had a tough time getting guaranteed major league contracts even when he hit well) and the fact that he’s from Petaluma, he’s probably the only professional hitter in America glad to be going to Oakland.

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