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Jonny Gomes, More Than Just Leadership


I’ve made no secret of the fact that I was thrilled to see Jonny Gomes come to the A’s this past season.  Being a fellow native of Petaluma, and graduate of Casa Grande High School where Jonny attended, it was a perfect match to see the guy I’d seen as a visitor at the Coliseum as part of the large contingent of Petalumans cheering him on don the green and gold.  On a team like the 2012 Athletics, the 31 year old Gomes was one of the elder statesmen of this team, and thus was a crucial leader as this team attacked this grueling 162 game schedule.

October 3, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics outfielder Jonny Gomes (31) sprays his teammates with the hose after the win against the Texas Rangers at Coliseum. The Oakland Athletics defeated the Texas Rangers 12-5 to become the American League west champions. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

But a funny thing happened this year, not only did Gomes provide valuable leadership, he made big contributions with the lumber as well.  He almost exclusively started at DH against left handed starters, where his career numbers show he’s had the most success.  Overall he hit .262/.377/.491 in 333 plate appearances over 99 games.  He went deep 18 times, 9 of those home runs either gave the A’s the lead in a tie game, tied the game, or gave them the lead when they were behind.  So he came up in many big moments this year, and came through with the biggest of big hits.

Perhaps one of Gomes’ biggest home runs came against the San Diego Padres in June.  He came in to pinch hit for Seth Smith against the lefty Joe Thatcher, and Bud Black countered by bringing in the righty Luke Gregerson to face Gomes.  But sometimes the numbers don’t hold true, and this would be one of those times.  Gomes smoked a no doubt 2 run home run to left field that untied the game and helped the A’s seal a series victory against the Padres.

Jonny didn’t get to see much action during the ALDS as the Tigers brought an all right handed rotation, which put Gomes on the bench. And manager Jim Leyland seemed to be managing away from Gomes, doing anything in his power to avoid an unfavorable matchup against a left hander.  He did get a single at bat in Game 5 after all the drama had subsided and it had become clear that the A’s had run out of comebacks.  It was a gesture by Bob Melvin to let Gomes experience the playoffs in Oakland, even if for a brief moment.  The fans appreciated getting the chance to see Gomes hit the batter’s box again, it was unfortunate that he got that at bat in those circumstances, but it was still nice.

Gomes future seemed pretty well set, he was coming back to Oakland unless something unexpected happened.  Then it did.  The acquisition of Chris Young from the Arizona Diamondbacks could potentially force out Gomes.  That is if it is to be believed that Billy Beane does not intend to trade one of the incumbent outfielders to make way for Young.  If he doesn’t, it will be likely that Young and Seth Smith, along with Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick would all see time rotating through the outfield and the DH spot.  There would simply not be enough room for Gomes on the roster.

As much as I loved what the outfield did for the A’s in 2012, the value of a player like Gomes extends beyond his ability on the field.  If there is any way that everyone can be on the roster in 2013, I think it would be extremely beneficial to the A’s.

Jonny Gomes always dreamed of playing for the A’s, ever since the days of the Bash Brothers.  It’s too early for that dream to come to an end.  Billy Beane, I implore you, bring back the pride of Petaluma.