"There's no stat for winning player. So it gets brushed under the rug. They talk about a player's WAR [wins above replacement]? Well, how about a team WAR? I've turned a team around 20 games four different times. Worst to first. I was on a Tampa team that was historically bad in 2007 and then went to the World Series in 2008. The Reds hadn't been in the playoffs for many years." - Jonny Gomes to the Globe's Nick Cafardo
Presidents and popes should be humble in public.
For journeyman ballplayers platooning in left-field for the Red Sox, humility is an over-rated virtue.
Jonny Gomes needs a hug by someone at the Red Sox, preferably some one offering him a contract extension. Gomes is correct. Baseball teams don't covet big winners in the same way they value big numbers. Baseball is a team sport made up of individual performers and one-on-one matchups. Your OPS against lefties on Tuesday nights in July is weighed much more heavily than the number of postseason appearances or rings won. Gomes the scrappy winner seems much more suited for Bill Belichick's Middle Earth than he does for Ben Cherington's spread sheet.
2014 has become the year of the selfie. Gomes offered one Sunday that was worth 1,036 words on BostonGlobe.Com, via an interview detailing the success that's followed him to his various major-league destinations.
Whatever happened to "shut-up and play?" Uncle Ted may ask.
About $3.39 million, which is the average major-league salary these days. Gomes is in the second year of a two-year, $10 million deal. There's way too much money at stake to simply let a computer program make his case, especially when his best stat is the one thing that the "Moneyball" types always seem to miss.
That being the "balls" part of "baseball."
Gomes came to Boston far more because of his ability to offer power from the right side of the plate, than due to his reputation as a clubhouse alchemist. Turns out he's also pretty good at turning unassisted double plays from left field in the top of the 15th inning.
Score that 7-unassisted.
Last year's Red Sox were all about "Team Chemistry." The newspaper produced by the parent company of this blog, which also ran the story about Gomes on its website Sunday, last week won an Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 Special Section award for its prophetic 2013 Red Sox section that focused on that same "Team Chemistry" topic.
The 2013 Red Sox quickly became the perfect antidote for the 2012 Red Sox. The players hustled starting from Day One in Fort Myers, they cared about each other and the "Boston '617' Strong" jersey hung in the dugout the day after the Marathon Bombings symbolized the togetherness that galvanized the club once so famously noted for having "25 players and 25 cabs."
We covered the importance of baseball physics over team chemistry often in this space last summer and fall. But the presence of Gomes and his positive attitude was undeniably infectious in the Red Sox clubhouse.
Jake Peavy has often told the story of when he first walked into the Red Sox clubhouse last summer, around noon on the day of a 7 p.m. game, and Gomes greeted him with his oft-repeated phrase: "One day closer to the parade." Just imagine what we'd get if Gomes was on Twitter.
Gomes is the only current American League player who has won four division titles since 2008. Winning finds him everywhere. Nowhere was that more evident than last season in Boston, where he went from "getting pinch hit for six times in the first month and a half to becoming this pinch-hitting guru guy at the end of the year." He even batted clean-up in Game 5 of the World Series. Meanwhile, the Red Sox went from tearing the jersey off Bobby Valentine's back to having Mike Napoli roam shirtless through the Back Bay in the span of just 394 days.
Karma must be Gomes' half-sister.
Gomes is used to long-term instability and wants some security. He spoke his mind about it and did so without any false insincerity or modesty. Gomes said nothing in this interview to deflect credit from his teammates last season, nor did he do so during his numerous post World Series Cup victory tour stops. Gomes and Napoli owned the postseason spotlight when it wasn't on Ortiz or Peavy's Duck Boat. Gomes shaved off his beard in public for charity and he won a Boston Tattoo Lifetime Achievement Award for his body art that celebrated the 2013 champions.
How sick is this?! pic.twitter.com/ADLNlj0q2q— Mike Napoli (@MikeNapoli25) February 7, 2014
Gomes won't be removing that tattoo no matter when he plays in 2015. That's just not in his nature given the lack of resentment he harbors against the teams that have released him in the past.
Gomes is not the first member of the 2013 World Series champions to make his feelings about wanting more long-term money/security known to the public. Jacoby Ellsbury simply left town for New York and $150 million. David Ortiz and Jon Lester have spoken repeatedly with varying degrees of passive-aggression and duplicity about their wants.
It's been nearly two weeks since Ortiz launched into a tirade against his straw-man haters. We are overdue. The price for Lester, meanwhile, ticks higher with each W.B. Mason ad.
Gomes gave a clear and concise explanation of what he's brought to the Red Sox and why he'd like it to continue. It's hard to blame or criticize him for it. Daniel Nava will be the Red Sox opening day left fielder [barring injury]. Nava appears finally ready to lock down the role as a starter, leaving Gomes to ponder his past exits from Cincinnati, Washington, Oakland and Tampa Bay. Gomes laments the fact that he never got a big-money, multi-year deal before 29, despite having more than 100 home runs by that age. Time travel is not possible [as far as we know] and he won't be getting one at the age of 33 with 149 career home runs, either.
"Team Chemistry" is a great marketing slogan. But the size of the check always comes down to individual statistics and franchise accounting. Teams only consider personal performance when it comes to contract time or free agency. Gomes, who didn't break into the majors until he was 25, has never hit more than 21 home runs in a season, driven in more than 86 runs or hit over .282. His career-high OPS was a very Nick Esasky-like .879. With that, he's still earned $11 million in his career.
In spite of his well-researched campaign stump speech, Gomes will have to settle for a relinquished role in Boston and paycheck if he wants to stay here beyond this season.
Gomes brought the nickname "Ironsides" with him to Boston last season. The U.S.S. Constitution, which has historic presidence in sharing Gomes' moniker, has called Boston home at various times since its launch in 1797. The ship has been based permanently in Boston Harbor since 1934.
"Ironsides" time at Fenway Park will be significantly less, no matter what he says.
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