We've got Carlos Gomez now. I haven't looked really closely at his numbers, but my first take is that it's a fair deal. The Twins get a somewhat better player for 2010 in J.J. Hardy, but we get someone who is cheaper, fills a hole, and might improve while still under team control.
But...reasonable people can disagree, and evaluating the Hardy-Gomez deal isn't my point. [Jordan just published some interesting thoughts on the deal. Even though I've rudely buried his post, go read what he has to say.]
Instead, I'd like to suggest that, against the sudden, unanimous conventional wisdom, we still re-sign Mike Cameron. (I haven't read through all the comment threads yet, so I apologize if I'm repeating somebody else's idea.)
Here are some things to consider:
1. Cameron is undervalued. (Yes, I know I'm opening up another can of worms here.) He's an elite defender, he has aged well, and he may be willing to come back to Milwaukee at a discount. If we can sign him for less than or equal to what we paid last year, we've got a deal. A much better deal than we'd get spending an equivalent amount on pitching.
2. Cameron or Gomez can play right field. The Mariners have shown the value of having elite defenders in more than one outfield spot. Cameron has played corners in his career. Center field prowess translates pretty reliably to corner outfield prowess. For those of you with a statistical bent: The positional adjustment would change, but a +10 CF would probably be +15 or so in right, so it would come close to evening out.
3. Outfield defense is important. Suppan is a fly ball pitcher. Looper is a fly ball pitcher. (Though most of his fly balls are out of reach.) If we sign Washburn, there's another one. If we're shopping for mid-rotation guys, fly ball pitchers aren't necessarily bad--IF we have an elite defensive outfield. It would make Doug Melvin's job easier, actually: Ground ball pitchers are generally more valuable than fly ball pitchers since teams stick Adam Dunn and Manny Ramirez in the outfield. (And other reasons, but I don't want to digress.) So having the freedom to sign fly ball guys would give Doug some flexibility.
4. Corey Hart is getting expensive, and he is not necessarily very good. Unlike with Hardy, I don't have a ton of faith Corey Hart being a valuable part of a contender. Yet, his name reliably comes up in trade rumors. Maybe Hart + Gamel will get us that starting pitcher. It's tough to gauge this from the outside, but I get the impression that we could receive fair value in a Hart trade.
5. Worst case scenario, we've added Gomez as a fourth OF. Maybe we can't trade Hart, but payroll hasn't really gone up. Then, depending on how the season goes, we can flip Cameron or (more probably) Hart to a team that develops a need. The outfield would be crowded, and it would prevent a Gamel move to right field, but too much talent isn't a bad thing, and I don't get the impression Gamel is shagging fly balls this offseason anyway.
Like most of my offseason proposals, I don't think this is what Doug is going to do. But I think it's what he should do.