Carlos Gomez threw down the gauntlet for rookie outfielder Lorenzo Cain on Tuesday, telling Anthony Witrado of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he is the best center fielder on the team.
“They know and I know that I can do the job every day,” Gomez said.
“I’m the best centerfielder on the team. But Lorenzo is doing a really
good job for the last two weeks and it’s not fair for me to come off the
DL and take his chance. I understand.”
“He is a really good player, but I think I’m still the man on this team.”
Brewers manager Ken Macha didn’t sound too pleased Gomez’s remarks:
“I’ll just say that’s interesting,” Macha said. “You can take that any way you’d like. I’m just saying it’s interesting.”
It wasn’t too long ago that Cain was thought of as the center fielder of the future, however a knee injury limited him to just 60 games in 2009. The 24-year-old outfielder has rebounded in a big way this season, batting .317/.402/.432 with three homers, 27 RBI and 26 stolen bases between Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville. Given the chance at regular playing time after Gomez suffered a concussion, Cain has a .314/.368/.431 batting line over his first 51 major league at-bats.
Though Gomez was out of line to voice his opinion in such a public manner, he isn’t completely wrong. He rates among the best defensive center fielders in all of baseball. Unfortunately, the 24-year-old outfielder has yet to progress with the bat, hitting just .228/.285/.348 with five home runs and 22 RBI during his first season with the Brewers. Also, his walk rate has actually dropped from 6.3 percent in 2009 to 5.8 percent this season, while his strikeout rate has increased from 22.9 percent in 2009 to 25.6 percent. His glove isn’t enough to compensate for that.
Face it, the Brewers are going nowhere this season, so they have little to lose by continuing to run Cain out there every day. He deserves it with the way he’s been playing. But if Gomez keeps yapping, look for him to be a trade chip in what figures to be an eventual offseason in Milwaukee.