MILWAUKEE — For the six years he’s been in the major leagues, Carlos Gomez’s career has been marked by potential.
A potential five-tool player, Gomez’s expectations had always been sky-high. He was a premium defender, they said. He had the power to anchor a lineup, some even thought.
And for so long, with those expectations levied on him, Gomez struggled to make his mark. He was a free swinger, and that had gotten in the way at times. He needed to be more patient. Everyone seemed to have an explanation for why Carlos Gomez wasn’t showcasing his five tools on a nightly basis just yet.
The 2012 season, while not quite fulfilling the potential All-Star qualities that some have expected of Gomez for years now, has been his best season yet. And in the Pirates weekend series, he showed that not all of that has to do with his statistics.
In the fifth inning of Saturday’s game against the Pirates, Gomez watched as a Neil Walker fly ball, an easily playable pop-fly, slipped out of his hands for an error. It was an unusual mishap for Gomez, who had always fulfilled the defensive part of his five-tool potential.
But the error went on to spark a Pirates’ run in that fifth inning, chasing Shaun Marcum after the inning and giving him the loss.
“He doesn’t do that often,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.
No, he doesn’t. But in his mistake, Gomez took unquestioned responsibility. While his teammates, notably Marcum, shook off the responsibility of one player to affect an entire game, after the game the next night, it was clear that Gomez had been thinking about it. In an interview on the field after the game, Gomez took responsibility for the loss.
But even before the interview, Gomez had already taken responsibility on the field — showcasing the breadth of his game to the Pittsburgh crowd. While he registered just one hit, it was a huge one — a towering three-run home run that gave the Brewers an insurmountable lead.
He may not quite have reached his five-tool potential yet, but last weekend, he made it clear that he’s making some steps to get there.
Trades and TV deals: With all of baseball’s eyes this past weekend on the mega-blockbuster deal between the Dodgers and Red Sox that sent stars like Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett to Tinseltown for a handful of big-time prospects, the rest of the league, including the Brewers, began to wonder what it meant for them.
Outfielder Ryan Braun, who grew up a Dodgers fan, could barely believe the money involved in the deal, which, on the Dodgers end, adds about $250 million in salary commitments.
“That’s unfathomable,” Braun told reporters. “It’s absurd. The numbers that are out there are crazy numbers.”
And behind those crazy numbers exists an even crazier deal — a TV deal in the works that’s likely to make the Dodgers one of baseball’s richest teams, widening the gap between big-market and small-market teams even further. And for Milwaukee, the smallest market in baseball, those kind of deals can have adverse effects.
Roenicke said that disparity just means more will have to go right and better decisions will need to be made for a team like the Brewers to advance to the postseasons.
“That makes us have to be smarter with what we do, and it can work,” Roenicke told reporters. “You see the Tampa Bay Rays, and Oakland this year. . . . The Dodgers are going to sign a big TV package. And I’ve got to think they’re going to start drawing 3.5 million (fans) again. That’s a lot of revenue coming in. That makes a huge difference. . . . On our end, everything has to go right. It didn’t go right this year, with some injuries and whatever. It just didn’t go right.”
Weeks in the two-hole: Second baseman Rickie Weeks’ return to the two-hole was supposed to signify a return to the old Rickie Weeks, the one that made the All-Star game last year and was one of baseball’s best second baseman. Before being moved back to the spot in the order on August 12, Weeks had been batting .389 with three home runs and six RBI in his previous 16 games.
Since his return to near the top of the lineup though, Weeks has seemingly reverted to the slump that marred the beginning of his season, batting .167 with just one home run in 14 games.
Still, Roenicke told reporters this weekend that he plans on keeping Weeks in the spot.
“I know you say things haven’t gone as well, but look at the ball he killed to left-center (on Friday).” Roenicke said. “That’s a home run anywhere. And look at some of the bullets he’s hit at people. I think you have to look at the at-bats and what’s going on.”