If the Mets had access to stem cell technology, they’d likely have a team of scientists working feverishly in the lab on a Daniel Murphy clone. After all, the businesslike young man has been a fan favorite, is home-grown, and — most importantly — has remained healthy all season.
But of course, there is no stem cell lab at Citi Field, and the Mets’ Latin American scouting syndicate does not extend into Brazil, so cloning is not an option. However, they may have accomplished the next-best thing.
Several reports suggest that one of the two “players to be named later” in the Billy Wagner deal is a lefthanded-hitting outfielder / first baseman named Chris Carter. Here is a scouting report on Carter, from Sox Prospects:
Extremely intelligent, Carter is a real student of hitting, and has demonstrated success with the bat at every level. Excellent power with the potential for more. Hits for average and consistently gets on base at a very good clip. Hits lefties and righties well. Below average speed. In the field, Carter has spent much of his career at 1B but was moved to the outfield in 2008. He has always been known as a poor fielder, and still doesn’t look particularly comfortable at any position. He has focused on his glove and footwork and has improved slightly, but still not enough.
Aside from the power note, it sounds EXACTLY like Dan Murphy, doesn’t it? Add to it that he’s been described as “gritty”, “fiery”, and “intense” (read: “serious”), and it’s as if Murphy went into a time machine and came out three years older.
In all “seriousness”, if the Mets do indeed wind up with Carter as one of the two PTBNLs, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. All indications are that the Mets were NOT going to pick up Wagner’s option, and were NOT going to offer him arbitration — no matter how much sense either move would have made. So if one of the players the Mets get in return is someone who might be able to contribute at the big league level immediately, then it’s a good move — better than letting Wagner walk and getting nothing in return (though, I stand by my feeling that the Mets could’ve used Wags as trade bait this winter).
First, let’s talk about what Carter is not. He’s not a savior, and, at 27, he’s no longer a prospect. He’s also not very good with the glove, and has no foot speed. Finally, he wasn’t good enough to take over DH when David Ortiz faltered, and not good enough to prevent the Red Sox from trading for Adam LaRoche and then Casey Kotchman.
Now, what Carter is: a solid lefthanded hitter who has exhibited more power in the minors over the last five years than any individual in the Mets’ organization over the same period. Yeah, that’s not saying much, but it does fill a void in the Mets’ system. He is also, as mentioned earlier, both very smart and very intense. If nothing else, I like the idea of the Mets increasing their collective IQ and in adding another gritty player along the lines of Jeff Francoeur. The propellerheads can laugh all they want, but I already know the Mets are going to stink through the end of this year and all through 2010; that said, I’d at least like to be entertained. And for me, it’s more fun to watch hard-nosed grinders running through walls than sitting around calculating VORPs.
It’s possible that all Carter needs is a chance to prove himself. Heck, David Ortiz and Travis Hafner were late bloomers (though, they were likely enhanced). It’s more likely he’s another Jason Botts or Valentino Pascucci — a “AAAA” slugger. But I’ll take that right now, because the Mets don’t even have THAT type of player in their organization — at least, not one who is under 30.
Of course, this is all conjecture. It’s very possible that Chris Carter will stay put, and the Mets will acquire someone else entirely. Perhaps Jeff Wilpon is waiting to see what the blogosphere thinks of Carter, before he … er, Omar Minaya pulls the trigger (assuming the Mets have a choice of players from a small pool). If it is Carter, great — bring him in to Flushing, put him in left field, and let’s see if he and Nick Evans can pull off some kind of platoon along the likes of Swoboda / Shamsky. He may not be great, but Carter will be new. New is different, and different, in this season, is good by default. And anyway, what else do we have to look forward to this September?
About the Author
Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.