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Cleveland Indians Manager Terry Francona Says Yan Gomes Will Start at Catcher
Just one day after being named American League Manager of the year after leading the Cleveland Indians to the playoffs, Terry Francona delivered some exciting news to Tribe fans. On an interview with 92.3 The Fan’s Bull and Fox show, Francona stated backup catcher Yan Gomes will be the team’s every day catcher in 2014. You can listen to the entire interview here, but this move shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to the majority of fans.
After being acquired as a “throw-in” of sorts in the Mike Aviles trade from Toronto prior to the season, Gomes broke out and batted .294 with 11 home runs and 38 RBIs in 88 games played last season. He pounded out 86 hits, 18 doubles, two triples and scored 45 runs on the season as well.
While his timely hitting (.309 batting average in September) was certainly refreshing, this move is more about his command of the pitching staff and defensive prowess behind the plate. Gomes had a 40.8 percent caught stealing percentage (No. 12 in all of MLB). On the contrary, Carlos Santana—the man he will be replacing behind the dish—had just a 17.7 percent caught stealing, which ranked him No. 80 in all of MLB.
With Gomes emerging as a better option behind the plate, this will allow Santana to likely split time between designated hitter and first base next year. Statistically, Santana has proven to be a much better hitter when not catching, so this move just makes sense on all fronts. Santana batted .268 with 20 home runs last year, but batted .274 in September when Gomes was primarily handling the catching duties.
It was intriguing to hear Francona commit to something of this magnitude in November, but it also shows the team’s free agent focus as well. With Gomes locked in at catcher and Santana likely splitting time with Nick Swisher at first base and designated hitter, the team will more than likely be looking for a bat at third base or in the outfield—not at DH or first.
One player that has been rumored to have ties with the Indians is Carlos Beltran, who plays right field and would be a major upgrade over Drew Stubbs as a hitter. Beltran is coming off a season in which he hit .296 with 24 home runs and 84 RBIs. If the Indians could ink him to be their power bat in the middle of the lineup, and get that type of production from Gomes and Santana for an entire season—the Indians could be a force to be reckoned with in 2014.
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