This past Friday night, Minnesota Twins centerfielder Joe Benson made a miraculous catch off the bat of David Ortiz at the Red Sox new spring training home, Jet Blue Park in Ft. Meyers, FL. The sprinting, over-the-shoulder grab was mindful of the famous play Willie Mays made in the 1954 World series.
Blogger Parker Hageman put it well recently when he compared it to Jack trading the cash cow for the proverbial handful of beans. Put another way, the Twins traded their precious ace without getting the best prospect in the Mets system (at that time, OF Fernando Martinez) or a player from their 40-man roster (Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes or David Wright, though none from that group were included in the public discussion). The best that could be said of this collection of sprouts was that "they had potential," But in March of 2008, it appeared the Twins had acquired a budding stud in center fielder Gomez. His arrival in Minnesota couldn't have been more opportune, as he was viewed as an obvious replacement for the popular Hunter*, who had departed for Anaheim. His spring training that year showed flashes of brilliance, along with eccentric inconsistency.
*Along with Denard Span, who lost the centerfield battle in spring training...
Everything's relative. Since Leo Cardenas
was known to lock his bats in a closet
for not performing well, this isn't all
that odd to me...
Jim Souhan (Minneapolis Star-Trib.) recorded this take on Carlos in a March 30, 2008 column.
"Ask a Twin about Gomez this spring, and the response would be a head shake and a giggle. When Justin Morneau stopped laughing, he said: "He is one of a kind. In so many ways. He can absolutely fly. He's the kind of athlete who comes along very rarely, with that speed and also having power.
"I don't think he quite knows how to use his power yet. He thinks he has to swing harder to hit it farther. Hopefully, he'll figure it out. His arm from the outfield is as good as I've ever seen, although he needs to be more accurate.
"He's a little out of control. He's 1,000 miles an hour. But when he comes to the plate, or gets on base, everybody watches."
"The other day in spring camp, Gomez was standing by the batting cage, waiting to hit, when someone lined a shot off the pitching screen. The ball shot back over the cage toward the backstop. Gomez took off on a dead sprint, executed a Willie Mays basket catch and held up the ball like a trophy. It was stunning and rather silly. No other player would think of doing that, and few could pull it off."
We're it not for his strong, yet inaccurate arm, Gomez could have been a hands-down Gold Glove winner, an obvious star-in-the-making. He certainly didn't lack charm for the role:
|Carlos Gomez scores winning run, Game 163, Oct. 6, 2009.|
The win propelled the Twins to the ALDS against New York.
He has the same problem Bobby Bonds (Sr.) had, and far worse: loads of offensive potential that is offset by poor pitch selection, and striking out way too much - thus negating his otherwise stellar contributions. He is a liability, therefore, to his team. Jonathan Ede piece in Media Milwaukee on March 18, 2012, concludes it is time for the Brewers to cut the cord with Carlos. I must say, he's persuasive, especially in light of the fact his comments mirror precisely the things said about the same player four springs ago. Like a lot of fans, I was a fan of his then, and I still am, with my ardent wish being he will one day turn the corner. How could you not root for a guy who left winter ball to be at the bedside of his son, afflicted with meningitis?
But then, most of us know what Burgess Meredith had to say about wishing...but I can still dream.
As our old broadcasting friend Herb Carneal closed his postgame shows:
"So long, everybody!" - TT