ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney tweeted on Tuesday that the Red Sox were not only still trying to bring back Cody Ross, they're the frontrunners:
Friends of Cody Ross believe BOS is in the lead in his neg. on 3-year deal. But sources say there haven't been new talks in last few days.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 27, 2012
After the Red Sox signed right-handed-hitting Jonny Gomes, some wondered whether the Sox would still want to bring back Ross, as the two are similar players. Gomes' 2012 batting splits -- .262 BA/.377 OBP/.491 SLG -- were very similar to Ross' -- .267/.327/.481. Ross was popular in Boston, with a swing seemingly tailor-made to loft homers over the Green Monster. The problem is, he and Gomes are too alike to be an effective platoon: Both are right-handed, dead-pull hitters with power versus lefties (career OPS versus lefties: Gomes .894, Ross .928).
On the surface, the biggest difference between the two is defensive ability. Ross plays a solid right field, but Gomes is a liability, even in left field, though at least the Monster cuts down on the space he'll have to cover at Fenway. Gomes actually appeared in more games for Oakland last season as a designated hitter (53, including 46 starts) than an outfielder (42 games, 28 starts), but he has little value as a DH for the Sox, assuming David Ortiz is healthy.
The team could see Gomes in a platoon role in left field (along with left-handed-hitting Ryan Kalish, perhaps?), while they could sign Ross as their full-time right fielder. At home this past season, Ross' .921 OPS put him among the league's elite. Only three American League players had more extra-base hits at home than Ross' 39: Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler and Robinson Cano.
In the 100 years of Fenway Park's history, only four players had more extra-base hits in their first season with the Red Sox: Ted Williams, Bill Mueller, Jimmie Foxx and Dick Stuart.
Of course, there also are those pesky road games. Away from Fenway, Ross hit just .232 with a .684 OPS.
Your turn: What's your take on Ross? Should the Red Sox be willing to give him the three-year deal he desires or should they aim higher in finding a full-time right fielder? Vote in the poll above and share your thoughts in the comments section.
Information from ESPNBoston.com's Dan Peterson and Jeremy Lundblad was used in this report.