Boston’s most recent deal, like many that actually come to fruition in Major League Baseball, snuck in under the radar, a stealth move no one saw coming. The Jonny Gomes deal had never been hinted at yet there it was, a two-year, $10 million Thanksgiving holiday gift courtesy of the Red Sox.
Gomes will solve one of Boston’s corner outfield problems – most likely right field, especially if Cody Ross is not re-signed. The trade is significant beyond the dollars and cents. It shows restraint, thoughtful assessment of player value, their overall fit with the club and subsequent payment of the right price for those services, something that has been sorely lacking for a very long time in Boston. With the Gomes deal, fans now know that Boston is serious about dusting off the early 2000s blueprint for success and will once again start acquiring players in building block rather than blockbuster fashion. Sheriff Cherington is clearly signaling that there’s a new law man in town and that there will be a decidedly different way of doing business going forward.
Could Jonny Gomes be the next Kevin Millar? The short answer is not quite. Once in a generation do you find an oh so ordinary ability player who had such a hand-in-glove synchronicity was his ball club.
Millar’s ability to keep things relaxed, fun and hopeful was an uncanny blend of bravado, innate optimism, humor, timely performance and a quirky a left of center leadership style that gave birth to 2003’s “idiots”, essentially the same group who took home a World Championship the next year. Only once in his 10-year career did Gomes hit better (2005, .282) than Millar’s 12-year career .274 batting average. The other vital statistics between the two are comparable.
What’s is more important about the Gomes trade and why in one very important aspect he is like Millar is the loose and loaded outlaw cred he brings to the party.
In 10 years with four different teams – Tampa Bay, Cincinnati, Washington and Oakland – Gomes has been the kind of player you love to have on your team and the one you love to hate when he’s in the other dugout. Like Millar (and Ross), he clearly passes the clubhouse chemistry litmus test. He makes up in intangibles what he lacks in raw talent. It’s enough for me to say he’s the anti Carl Crawford; less talent with actually much more upside as he come to town undamaged and ready to play.
If the Gomes acquisition is the first step in a series of less than headline grabbing moves that reap the benefits of a player’s talents at the right price then I’m all for a series of moves that, at least if one or two don’t work out, Boaton isn’t looking for another Magic Johnson bailout plan just to get their heads above water. Bring on Jonny Gomes. More importantly, bring on this old school way of doing business.
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall
All in all you’re just another brick in the wall
- Another Brick In The Wall, Pink Floyd