Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez returned from the disabled list on August 24th, with a nice chip on his shoulder. Gomez returned to the starting lineup but not in his accustomed position of center field and there’s a good reason why.
In his brief stint on the DL, a young rookie Lorenzo Cain has filled in for him and performed quite well. Cain is batting .314 with four doubles and a triple in just 51 at-bats, while stealing three bases.
“They know and I know that I can do the job every day,” Gomez said. “I’m the best centerfielder on the team. But Lorenzo is doing a really good job for the last two weeks and it’s not fair for me to come off the DL and take his chance. I understand … He is a really good player, but I think I’m still the man on this team.” (per Anthony Witrado of the Journal Sentinel)
Those are some pretty big words from a guy who hasn’t done much in his career. I’ll give Gomez credit, he’s a pretty damn good defensive center fielder but outside of that he isn’t that good. This season he’s batting .228 with five homers and 22 rbis, with nine doubles and three triples over 250 at-bats.
One could say he’s just having a bad season but those numbers pretty much span his entire career. Over four seasons he has a career .242 average with 17 homers and 121 rbi’s, with 51 doubles and 15 triples. Not that impressive, definitely not the numbers that should have a player popping off at the mouth like that.
Even his own manager Ken Macha finds this all interesting, “I’ll just say that’s interesting,” Macha said. “You can take that any way you’d like. I’m just saying it’s interesting.”
I will say this, if Cain keeps hitting the way he is then Gomez may never get his starting job back. If Cain proves he can handle the position defensively, while continuing to hit like he is then how can Macha justify keeping Carlos as the starter? “Let’s say we have three centerfielders right now,” Macha said. “There well could be an open competition. There’s nothing wrong with competition.”
I’d say all of this is setting up for a huge battle for the position come Spring Training. From the sounds of Gomez, I believe he’s setting himself up for one, and his future if he should lose to Cain.
“Next year, we’ll talk about that,” Gomez said. “We’ll figure out after the season if I’m going to be the starting centerfielder, the fourth outfielder or if I’ll be here (with the team). We have a lot to play still. Cain is a good player but he’s only been here two weeks, so they have to see what he is, then they’ll (determine) if he’s ready.”
If he wants to prove to Macha that he is a team player and is truly the best center fielder he’ll need to improve his game.
What that will require him to shut his mouth and play some ball, cause he’s not good enough for that tough talk.