New York Mets Should Not Trade For Carlos Gonzalez
According to a report in the New York Post, the New York Mets told the Colorado Rockies that they’re interested in outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Rockies owner Dick Monfort will be reluctant to part with his two superstars, but at least Tulo has expressed dissatisfaction with Colorado’s organization. If you’re not familiar, the Monforts make the Wilpons seem palatable. In any event, Tulowitzki would be a perfect fit for the Mets, but if New York is thinking about acquiring CarGo, they should think again.
Gonzalez has had four tremendous years with the Rockies. Colorado picked him up from the Oakland A’s in return for Matt Holliday. In CarGo’s first full season (2010), he led the league in batting with a .336 average. He hit 34 home runs and had 117 RBIs. He followed that up with three more terrific seasons. From 2010-2014, Gonzalez hit .311/.370/.556 with 108 home runs and 87 stolen bases. And while he can be a bit of a hot dog in the outfield, he played very good defense and racked up 38 assists. So what’s the problem? A couple of things.
First, he’s prone to injury. He played in 145 games in 2010. In the years that followed, he played 127, 135, and 110. Still, you’re getting 450-550 plate appearances out of him per year. But the biggest red flag is his splits at home versus on the road.
This year, CarGo’s having an off year in general, hitting .250/.301/.439 with nine bombs. Not surprisingly, he’s also spent significant time on the disabled list. At home, he’s still tearing it up, batting .343/.376/.539. On the road, his numbers are dramatically worse. Despite six home runs, he’s hitting .175/.241/.357. For his career, he has a .987 OPS at home, but a very ordinary .758 mark on the road. Last year, he completely reversed that trend by hitting better on the road than at home. But this year’s performance is making that look like an aberration.
Tulowitzki’s home/road splits are also significant, but he’s still an .800 or higher OPS player on the road. That brings tremendous value at the shortstop position.
If the Mets are going to consider Gonzalez, they have to take into account what he’s done at sea level before they sell the farm for him. At 5,280 feet above sea level, the ball travels further and breaking balls spin less. Also, Coors Field has a deep outfield (an attempt to compensate for the altitude) which results in wide gaps, which is also hitter-friendly.
Meanwhile, Citi Field is deep, but the ball does not carry there. Many a power hitter has seen a sure home run die at the warning track. CarGo’s speed and fielding ability would play well at Citi, but his power would take a hit. He would become an average or above-average player. That’s OK, but it’s not something that’s worth parting with your top prospects for.