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New York Mets: Missing Carlos Gomez

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New York Mets: Missing Carlos Gomez
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Carlos Gomez of the Milwaukee Brewers.

COMMENTARY | With the recent news regarding Johan Santana's unfortunate season, and perhaps career-ending injury, it seems apropos to reflect on the trade that sent the southpaw to the New York Mets in the first place.

On Feb. 2, 2008, the Mets acquired Santana from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for Deolis Guerra, Phillip Humber, Kevin Mulvey, and Carlos Gomez. The trade was instantly considered a "win" for the Mets, as none of the players--even combined--seemed to amount to the value of adding a legitimate ace pitcher in his prime.

The perennial Cy Young candidate, and two-time winner, immediately improved the Mets' rotation and energized a fan base that arguably hadn't witnessed as dominant a pitcher since Dwight Gooden.

Fast forward what will be six seasons later. After three great overall seasons in New York, Santana has now fallen prey to his second torn left anterior capsule injury since September 2010. Despite hurling a 2.85 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 3.02 K/BB over 600 IP from 2008 to 2010, Santana just has 117 IP to his name with a pedestrian 4.85 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and 2.85 K/BB.

While Guerra, Humber, and Mulvey have all proven to be insignificant players, Carlos Gomez has developed into a multi-talented force. And given the Mets' outfield struggles, one can't help but think how much the team could use Gomez in center field--right now.

The Mets weren't the only organization, however, to "give up" on Gomez. The Twins swapped Gomez for J.J. Hardy on Nov. 6, 2009, as the young outfielder lacked the pop (73 OPS+) and patience (4.8% BB%) to be a full-time starter, despite also exhibiting blazing speed (47 SB) and an outstanding glove (2.36 dWAR) over two seasons in Minnesota.

The right-handed hitter's issues didn't dissipate right away for the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers relegated Gomez to part-time duties, preferring Jim Edmonds in 2010 and Nyjer Morgan in 2011. Seeing as Gomez posted a combined 79 OPS+ and 5.5% BB% between the two seasons, the Brewers weren't in a rush to tap the outfielder as a starter.

But in 2012, after T-Plush fizzled, it became Gomez's time to shine--and he didn't disappoint. The 26-year-old posted career-bests in OPS+ (110), HR (19), SB (37), and WAR (2.4). In fact, the Brewers were so impressed with the center fielder's 2012 performance, they extended him with a three-year, $24 million contract this past offseason.

No one expected Johan Santana to fade so quickly in orange and blue, but given the pitcher's pricey contract (the Mets owe him $31 million in 2012) and lack of production post-2010, it's only natural for Mets fans to long for a player like Gomez, even if it did take him four full seasons to properly develop.

Ben Berkon is a freelance sports, humor, and tech writer/blogger from New York City. Berkon's work has been featured on The Huffington Post, The Onion, Contently, Medium, and Rising Apple, and he also manages The Beanball and Blah Blah Berkon, his personal stat-heavy baseball and humor blogs, respectively. He's [unfortunately] been a Mets follower his entire life.

Follow him at @BenBerkon.

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