Before the season began there were a TON of articles in Atlanta media talking about how great a clubhouse presence Jonny Gomes would be, how he brought grit and blue collar attitude and all of that jive. And, to be fair, the Braves probably needed some of that jive, as they were a pretty lackadaisical team last season.
I suspected that once the rubber hit the road and the Braves began to lose a lot of games — or once Gomes showed that, no, he’s not good enough to be a regular player anymore — that the Gomes love would stop. It did for spell, but since the Braves are hovering around .500 and, because the Mets and Nats have stumbled lately and the Braves are only three and a half games out, the meme is back in full force. Use today’s AJC to fill out your “grit” bingo card:
Gomes had that effect on Boston and Red Sox Nation, where his hustle and blue-collar attitude were greatly appreciated, along with his overt patriotism and front-and-center role in helping Boston sports teams and citizens come together – Boston Proud — and get through the trauma many felt from the Boston Marathon finish-line bombing in 2013.
The bearded outfielder became a galvanizing presence with the Red Sox, a team that already had iconic David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia, but quickly embraced Gomes’ fiery enthusiasm and indefatigable optimism. Along with his right-handed power and flair for dramatic pinch-hit homers.
All of which is followed up by Braves teammates singing his praises and lauding his grit and hustle, just the way you’d expect them to. And I don’t doubt for one second that he’s great to have around if you’re a Braves player. All of his teammates have always talked about his presence and attitude and all of that.
But the fact is that he’s hitting .210/.294/.328 and plays poor defense in left field which costs the Braves on a regular basis. He has one decent skill left besides the rah-rah and that’s reaching base against lefties. Yet Fredi Gonzalez has given him twice as many plate appearances against righties than lefties and he’s dragging the team down as a result.
Braves: you may love Gomes, but he either (a) needs to be a coach; or (b) needs to be used strictly against lefties. Because all of the gritty grit in the world doesn’t replace actual production, no matter how loudly you praise it in the local media.