The Jamey Wright-Brandon Gomes Decision | The Process Report

The Jamey Wright-Brandon Gomes Decision

We’ve covered two of the controversial roster decisions made this spring in recent days. Let’s talk about a third today, one that seems overblown: Jamey Wright over Brandon Gomes.

Logistics played a part in this decision, just as they did with Jose Lobaton over Chris Gimenez. Wright, who has more than 14 years of big-league service time, had to make the 25-man roster or else could’ve elected free agency. (Likewise, he has more than enough service time to reject an optional assignment, so adding him to the 40-man and then demoting him is not an option.) It’s that black and white. The argument in favor of Gomes seems to revolve around spring stats: Gomes had a good spring while Wright—having allowed three home runs in 10 innings pitched—did not.

Here’s where I’ll admit that I don’t care about spring stats. I don’t believe they tell you anything useful. If anything, I believe they can harm you by leading to incorrect evaluations. Wright is a good example of this.

If you only go by his spring stats you’d think Wright is prone to the long ball. But this is the same pitcher that allowed two home runs in 67 2/3 innings last season, and who has allowed one home run for every 18 innings since 2010. Batters have not been able to elevate Wright’s sinker. Over the past two seasons he ranks 23rd amongst relievers in ISO-against—right around David Robertson, David Hernandez, Steve Cishek, and Tom Wilhelmsen—and second amongst current Rays relievers. That designation, second amongst current Rays relievers, is true if you go back three years; or if you go by home runs allowed per nine innings. Wright has flaws but giving up homers or extra-base hits isn’t one of them.

This is to take nothing away from Gomes. He pitched well when called upon in 2011, though he struggled last season. Write it off as a residual effect from offseason back surgery if you must. But why give Gomes the benefit of the doubt for 17 poor regular-season innings and not give it to Wright over 10 poor spring innings? Besides, stack their numbers up together over recent seasons and it’s hard to make an argument one way or the other:

Wright (2010-2012): 194 1/3 IP, 3.66 ERA (105 ERA+), 1.53 SO/BB, 0.5 HR/9, 1.68 GB/FB
Gomes (2011-2012): 54 2/3 IP, 3.62 ERA (106 ERA+), 1.68 SO/BB, 0.8 HR/9, 0.58 GB/FB

Wright has been better than Gomes in preventing home runs and generating groundballs (an attribute which you figure will come in handy given how Joe Maddon used Burke Badenhop and Chad Bradford in the past), and about even in the rest, but he’s done it in 140 more innings.

Even if after all of this you think Gomes is perceptibly superior to Wright then let’s just agree about this: The Rays are better off having Wright and Gomes in the system as opposed to only Gomes. Injuries and ineffectiveness happen; having depth is a great thing. It may feel like an injustice on a micro level, but on a macro level this is a good brand of injustice to have.


  1. upnm42 wrote:

    Agree on spring stats.Wright is not game ready and will be used in low leverage situations until he can get the ball down.Gomes is ready -11K’s 0BB-is a good indication that he is the 2011 Gomes that had the most appearance’s for the Rays in the 2nd half.Maddon wouldn’t hesitate to use Gomes in game situations but he won’t use Wright unless he’s the last option

  2. upnm42 wrote:

    ERA is not a big deal in spring but K’s and W’s tell me location which is .Gomes has velocity and command.Wright is struggling.Today in a game situation can you tell me you’d rather put Wright in than Gomes?If so turn the switch on so Wright knows this is a real game we can’t wait for him to get the ball down.In reality this decision was made when Wright signed.Baddenhop looks good now for an extra 300,000$.

    • R.J. Anderson wrote:

      I’d put Wright in the game over Gomes if I needed a groundball.

      But who’s better isn’t the argument I’m concerned with in roster calls like this one and the Gimenez/Lobaton. I think in both cases you can argue they’re similar, but in neither case can you say, This guy is so much better than the other guy that it’s worth losing depth over. If Gomes goes to Durham, stays healthy, and pitches well he’ll find his way back into the majors. Just like if Wright proves he’s not healthy or no longer able to get the job done he’ll be gone before it matters too much.

      It’s a bigger deal now than it will be in a week since there’s nothing else happening.

      • upnm42 wrote:

        I think we’ll regret not signing Baddenhop.Wright pitched in a pitcher friendly park and the NL west .No confidence in a ground ball until we get 5-6 ip without HR.Assume Wright was trying to keep the ball down in his last outing

  3. […] Niemann’s place the Rays have recalled Brandon Gomes, whom some felt should have made the opening day roster. Consider this a point in favor of the Rays’ decision to keep Wright over Gomes. Had they let […]

  4. […] the time, many favored Gomes to Wright. Gomes was younger, had more experience with the club, and hadn’t allowed a […]

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