Should the Philadelphia Phillies Have Gone for Jonny Gomes?

Bobby Yost@byostiCorrespondent IIJuly 27, 2011

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JUNE 29:  Designated hitter Jonny Gomes #31 of the Cincinnati Reds fouls off a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on June 29, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

The Washington Nationals made one of the first splashes before the upcoming Major League Baseball trade deadline, albeit a rather small one, in trading for Reds outfielder Jonny Gomes. In exchange, the Nationals traded two fringe prospects, 22-year-old Single-A reliever Chris Manno and 26-year-old Double-A outfielder Bill Rhinehart.

The deal, from the Nationals' perspective, is odd, considering they will not be competing for a playoff spot this year. Most likely, their hope is achieving compensation in the offseason after offering arbitration and hoping he does not accept.

As for Gomes, he's a right-handed hitter who has mashed lefties over his career. For those living under a rock, the Phillies have been attached to plenty of rumors regarding such hitters. Personally, Gomes was one player I thought could be a good addition with a cheaper price tag than the others rumored to be attached to the Phillies.

This year, Gomes' line may not be impressive at first look, batting .211/.336/.399 for a pretty average .328 wOBA and 103 wRC+. But he is much better against lefties, even compared to some of the other right-handed batters on the market. In 66 plate appearances against lefties, he's hit .333/.439/.537. Yes, 66 plate appearances is still a very small sample, but for his career he's hit .281/.377/.511 against them.

His manager has not put him in the best position to be successful this year, having him face right-handed hitters about three times as often, where he's struggled mightily. If the Phillies would have acquired Gomes, it should have been strictly as a platoon player. He is simply too inept at hitting right-handed, exemplified by his career .226/.307/.428.

Fielding wise, he's also a liability. His defensive prowess is similar to Raul Ibanez. But platooning him and Ibanez effectively would have no difference defensively but would still improve the team offensively.

In the end, it would have all depended on the price tag. Financially, he's due about $700,000 for the rest of the year. That would have fit easily into the payroll. Prospect wise, before the trade,  I assumed it would not be much.

The players the Nationals gave up are both fringe prospects. Neither were among the Nationals' top 10 prospects when the season began—although Manno could be approaching the top 10 after another dominant year. In just over 43 innings from the bullpen, he's been a strikeout machine, notching over 14 per nine innings while walking just over three per nine innings, good for a 1.77 FIP.

The most comparable Phillies prospect would be Michael Schwimer. Schwimer posted similar numbers over his first years in the low minors and is still producing great numbers in Triple-A. He's almost two years older than Manno but also much closer to being big-league ready.

The other prospect the Nationals gave up, Rhinehart, has been tearing up the Eastern League. He's second in the league in homers, hitting .283/.376/.587. Those numbers are similar to another Eastern Leaguer, Matt Rizzotti. Rizzotti's .288/.379/.501 isn't quite as good as Manno's numbers, but Rizzotti is also a year younger. Neither player will be known for their defense or speed, but Manno does get the slight nod for playing outfield.

That leaves the most comparable deal in attaining Gomes to be Rizzotti and Schwimer. The Phillies would probably also have to add something else very small to entice the Reds in aiding a playoff contender. I think that combination would have been slightly too much for Gomes, even with possible compensation at the end of the year. (It's very possible he could accept arbitration though.)