Pretty Please, Can We Keep Carlos Gomez? Please?
There are few things in my life right now that give me more joy than seeing my nine-month-old son discover something new. Whether that’s a new toy, a new trick or a new person, seeing him revel in its texture, its smell, its reactions, its newness is inspiring. He’s at the age where that happens quite frequently. While I know he’s going to find something that 100% doesn’t click with him, when he finds something he wants to play with, I want him to do it with aplomb.
Stats are easily accessible. After completing back-to-back All-Star campaigns with the Milwaukee Brewers, everyone knew that Carlos Gomez would be a highly sought after commodity. We can find out that he started 2015 with Milwaukee and posted a .262/.328/.423 slash line. We can also find out that from his time with the Astros, Gomez slashed a miserable .221/.277/.342.
A quick search of Gomez’ name within the Astros’ Twitter-verse will show you what they all thought of that. Questions of effort and/or decline materialized. Gomez went from being one of the hottest commodities of the 2015 trade deadline to a forgotten laughing stock of the American League. Gomez was a castaway; a $9 million toy, seen as broken and useless.
Then a curious General Manager happened upon Carlos Gomez in the discount bin. His name was Jon Daniels. His team was the Texas Rangers. Sure, the player he signed looked a little worse for the wear. Yet, Daniels bet that he could still get some entertainment and use out of this 30-year old Gold Glove winner.
Carlos Gomez met Anthony Iapoce and Justin Mashore, the Rangers’ hitting coaches. And in a months’ time, they gave this cast aside player some new toys to play with. Gomez finished his 33 games with Texas with a .284/.362/.543 line, eight homers. Compare that to five in 85 games with Houston and a 2.76 K/BB ratio, down from 4.76 with Houston.
“He (Mashore) forced me to throw my hands at the ball, and you can see me just sit on my back leg,” Gomez began. “You’ll see that now I can take a pitch that is *that* close [he holds his hands a few inches apart] to the plate, and I didn’t even flinch, I just [leans back] ‘ball.’ because I can see it. But when you’re moving your body, the ball is going to move. So I’m just more (still); I’m more calm at the plate. Same aggressiveness, because I’m going to swing. But when I can see the ball better, I can recognize and swing at pitches that I want, and be aggressive at that pitch, not at all the pitches. And you’re gonna get fooled, because baseball is like that, but I’m just excited to – in two and a half weeks – what I’m learning, I can’t imagine one year.” – Levi Weaver, WFAA.com
One year. One full year of actually seeing the ball. A full year of deciding whether to swing or to take. One full year of improving upon a .283 batting average in those All-Star years with Milwaukee.
“I’m tasting something new and I’m seeing how easy it is to hit on the sweet spot and to be able to hit the ball the other way,” Gomez said. “When I started [preparing] like this, I started to get really excited and anxious for the next day to come.”
“I’ve been in the league 10 years, but I feel like I’m starting right now,” Gomez said. “All that I did in the past was kind of with blind eyes. Now I’ve opened my eyes and I’m seeing the results.” – Ryan Posner, MLB.com
“I’ve never been Carlos Gomez.”
Now that Gomez knows who he is and how to harness his ability, he can play with all these new toys and tools. He is exploring, he is tweaking, he is hitting and he is rediscovering baseball. His joy, enthusiasm, and exploration of what he can do with a bat seem to bring a smile to everyone’s face.
Some folks are drawn to the allure of Ian Desmond and the rejuvenated career that he found with Texas.
As for me? I want Carlos Gomez playing with his new toys in the playpen that is Globe Life Park in Arlington.