September 21, 2012; Boston, MA USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Daniel Nava (66) bats during the third inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Who Will Platoon With Jonny Gomes?

The move to bring Jonny Gomes aboard for 2 years and $10 million was deemed a curious one by many. Gomes had a good season with Oakland in 2012, batting .262/.377/.491, but his struggles against right-handers, his suspect defense, and his high strikeout totals were still there. Sure, Gomes has excellent pull power which will be aided by the friendly confines of Fenway Park and his high walk totals almost even out his high strikeout totals. Perhaps most strange of all was that they paid Gomes $10 million over two years to serve as a platoon option (hopefully, that is. He only batted .209 against righties in 2012) while Cody Ross was still on the market.

It seems likely that, despite spending $10 million on Gomes, the Red Sox may still look for a left-handed outfielder to platoon with him. The free agent market is growing thin, with Melky Cabrera, Raul Ibanez, and Nate McClouth off the market and it’s looking more and more like the Red Sox may have to use internal options. The only options remaining in free agency are Bobby Abreu (who the Red Sox have been linked to) and Johnny Damon. It’s highly debatable whether or not these players are even remotely better than Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish, the internal options in the Red Sox’ organization.

June 17, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Boston Red Sox outfielder Ryan Kalish (70) hits an RBI against the Chicago Cubs during the seventh inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Just two short years ago, Ryan Kalish was the top prospect in the Red Sox’ organization. In his cup of coffee in the majors in 2010, he’d done a respectable job– batting .252/.305/.405 while stealing 10 of 11 bases. The signing of Carl Crawford pushed Kalish to the minors to start the 2011 season, but he was expected to be back soon. However, he quickly injured his shoulder and missed most of the rest of 2011 and the beginning of the 2012 season. Kalish eventually completed the long road back to the majors in June, but did not fare well in limited time up– batting just .229/.272/.260 in 36 games. If Kalish was to make the majors as Gomes’ platoon option, the question is whether or not he can even hit righties as he has opposite splits and actually has hit better against lefties in his career.

The other internal option in the Red Sox’ system is Daniel Nava, who burst onto the scene but slowed down as the 2012 season progressed. He wound up hitting .243/.352/.390, but unlike Kalish and Gomes, batted much better against righties– whom he hit .269/.383/.414 against. Combined with solid defense, those are numbers acceptable for a starting left fielder.

Unless the Red Sox swing a trade for a major player like Justin Upton or Giancarlo Stanton, Nava is their best bet as a platoon option. Gomes could hit against all lefties and potentially against the occasional righty at home. Alternately, though, this could be Kalish’s time to break out. In my perfect world, Nava would start in the majors and Kalish would start in the minors– if Kalish proves he can hit, and most importantly stay healthy, he should be promoted with an inevitable injury.

Tags: Boston Red Sox Daniel Nava Ryan Kalish

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