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Should Carlos Gomez “Go Go” This Winter?

Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a “juiced” Barry Bonds. Able to leap tall outfield walls in a single bound. Look! Rounding the bases! It’s a roadrunner. It’s Marion Jones running from a drug test. No. It’s Carlos “Go Go” Gomez.

Carlos Gomez. Sometimes Superman. Sometimes super goat. But often the heartbeat that thumped life into, or out of a Twins offense too frequently on life support in 2008. Case in point—hitting for the cycle one day, then striking out on four pitches in the dirt on another.

Rumors spread this winter that Gomez could be on the trading block, dangled as bait to lure a bona fide set-up man or a slugging third baseman to the power-depleted Twins. Maybe the most compelling trade logic centers on the fact that Gomez’ agent is Scott Boras, a name inducing baseball GMs to wear garlic ‘round their necks and clutch crucifixes in their hands.

True, Gomez’ physical gifts and potential skills are great. But maybe his greatest gifts are the intangibles. When he’s on, Gomez provides a spark to the Twins lineup perhaps unseen since Rod Carew. A bunt single. Stealing second. Scoring on a bloop hit. The occasional big fly. He represents instant offense for a bland, station-to-station ball club like the Twins. When Gomez has a good night, the team has a good night. Pair him with Alexi Casilla and you have one of the most dynamic one-two combinations in baseball.

If Gomez develops as scouts think he can, he will become the type of player the Twins could (or would) never afford to bring in via free agency or trade. True, if he does becomes a superstar, Gomez will eventually leave in free agency via the “Santana Freeway” for $100+ million with a four or five year deal. But right now, his budding ability and future potential make him the ideal type of Twins player—productive at the plate, putting butts in seats with scintillating plays in the outfield and being paid an affordable salary. That sounds like a perfect trifecta for the Pohlads’ thrifty pocketbook.

Undeniably, the Twins do need serious help in the bullpen and punch in the infield. But trading their future savior is not the answer. Better to use free agency to bring in reinforcements, such as Casey Blake at third from the Dodgers and a good right-handed set-up man to replace Pat Neshek.

If the market forces them to trade for a player, then look for a fair deal with a different surplus outfielder--like the disappointing Delmon Young. Rumor has it the Twins are shopping Young for the right deal. Take the deal if it comes along and leave Gomez firmly planted in center, where he can continue to grow into a player who can truly replace Torii Hunter.

Let’s hope the Twins’ brain trust doesn’t make the mistake of dealing Gomez this winter. If they do, their chances for a legitimate three-tool All Star, as well as making it back to a championship anytime soon, will both be long gone.

Twins Blog Writer: Rick Jourdan

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