Well, like it or not, Carlos Gomez and his .292 career OBP will now be a prominent member of the Brewers’ starting lineup and likely the team’s new everyday centerfielder. The only question now is where Gomez will hit in the Brewers’ order.
Given his speed and base-stealing ability, it seems like he’s destined to hit leadoff, but would that really be the best place for him?
Rickie Weeks will be fully recovered by the time next season rolls around, and despite the injury problems and the slow start to his career, he has developed into a solid leadoff hitter with a career .351 OBP. With J.J. Hardy out of the picture, Alcides Escobar will also be playing every day…and it seemed like everyone was assuming Escobar would eventually be the guy to take over the leadoff spot, allowing Weeks to move down to a bigger run-producing spot in the order. Now we have Gomez, another traditional leadoff hitter type, on the roster and we haven’t even brought up Felipe Lopez yet.
Somehow, the Brewers have gone from not having any real leadoff hitters to potentially having too many in the span of about a year. I’ll willingly admit that it’s foolish to start piecing together fantasy lineups before the offseason is over and the roster is closer to being finalized, but let’s try to figure this out.
Someday, Gomez may be a great leadoff hitter. But right now, I wouldn’t even consider him a better hitter than Jason Kendall. He should be relegated to the 8th spot in the lineup — or even 9th, if Macha wants to try the dual leadoff hitter experiment again — until he proves he can take a walk. Hitting in front of the pitcher, he may get more chances to get on base, which in turn could lead to more stolen base opportunities.
Escobar showed what he can do with 134 plate appearances in the big leagues this past season, and in my eyes, he did enough to show that he could handle being the everyday leadoff man. Like Gomez, his plate discipline isn’t very good right now, but he has shown better ability in the minors than Gomez has. I do think he’d be able to step into the leadoff role at the start of the season and perform well, which is more than I can say for Gomez at this point.
As for Weeks, while he’s performed admirably in the leadoff role the past few years, he’s starting to show some of that offensive potential we all knew he had. It would be a shame to see it go to waste with him serving in a table-setting role as the leadoff man. With Escobar now in the majors and Hardy out of the picture, I could see Weeks moving into the #2 spot between Escobar and Ryan Braun, where he could do some real damage.
What we’re left with is something like this, using the current roster:
1. SS Escobar
2. 2B Weeks
3. LF Braun
4. 1B Fielder
5. 3B McGehee
6. RF Hart
7. C Rivera?
8. CF Gomez
Even though we’re heading for an offseason that will likely lead to some big changes, one thing’s for sure — offense will continue to be the club’s strong point.