When the Minnesota Twins traded away Johan Santana for a package of players that centered around a talented, but unproven, outfielder named Carlos Gomez, Twins’ fans and analysts thought they had acquired their starting centerfielder for the next decade or more. However two years after the Twins acquired the “five-tool” Gomez, they chose to trade the struggling youngster to the border rival Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for a talented shortstop by the name of J.J. Hardy. As you already may know, Hardy’s tenure in Minnesota was also short lived as he was traded after a year of service with the Twins to the Baltimore Orioles for Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson, neither of whom are with the organization anymore.
So do the math: the Twins traded Santana for a package of useless players, besides Gomez, then traded Gomez—who is beginning to fulfill the talent and promise that surrounded him throughout his career—for Hardy whom they then traded for useless players; if that negativity ruins your day, I apologize. After watching the Twins take the series opener from the Brewers 6-3, which saw Gomez hit two homeruns against his former club, I am yet again left frustrated and jealous of “what could have been” had the Twins decided to keep Gomez.
I want to make it clear that I do not blame the Twins for trading Gomez for what they did at the time that they made the trade. The team had a gaping hole at shortstop and they traded for a player in Hardy that was very talented, but injury prone. Gomez was also coming off a frustrating year which saw him hit .229 with three HR and 28 RBI over 315 at-bats in 137 games. The Twins were employing a “win now” mentality and were losing patience with the talented, but wildly inconsistent, youngster. Had the Twins kept Hardy around and never made a kneejerk decision to trade him, I would be less bitter about how things ended with Gomez and the Twins; but since the Twins got nothing in return for Hardy and Hardy has become a very productive player for the Orioles, I am upset to say the least.
Gomez didn’t start putting it all together with the Brewers until the end of last season, but he has now turned into a valuable piece to the franchise and is currently one of the Brewers’ top hitters and overall players. For the season, Gomez is now hitting .331 with 10 HR and 25 RBI over 48 games. With all of the struggles in centerfield for the Twins and their young centerfielder of the future Aaron Hicks, it’s hard to not reminisce about what could have been if Gomez was still a Twins’ player.
Although Ben Revere and Denard Span were behind Gomez and likely would have had to move positions or could have been traded if the Twins had kept Gomez, it sure would be nice to have a powerful right-handed bat—that also plays exceptional defense—in the organization. Hicks could develop into this type of player and I believe that he will; but just like Gomez, Hicks is going to need time. Gomez should stand as living proof of why an organization should not give up on a player too early, especially when they are playing in the majors at a young age. The Twins must continue to show patience and faith in Hicks in order to receive a reward like what Gomez is giving the Brewers.
I would love to be able to blame the Twins for trading away Gomez and jeopardizing the team’s future, but that wouldn’t be fair and there are too many factors in play that would have to change in order for analysts to fairly judge the situation. Revere and Span were great players too and Gomez would have stood in the way of their development and emergence, so there is both good and bad to Gomez leaving.
All in all, I’m glad to see Gomez having success with the Brewers and I wish him the best of luck as his career progresses; but I would be lying to you if I didn’t admit how much it pains me to see Gomez trot around the bases following a homerun and not wearing a Twins’ jersey. Maybe it’s an effect of a long losing streak or maybe it is nostalgia; but watching Gomez today not only made me regretful of the past, but also paranoid for the future.