2010 Analysis: Chris Carter

The Animal impressed manager Jerry Manuel early on in spring training, and became an immediate fan favorite for his energy, intensity, all-out play, and likable personality. His story and swing were so well received that it was something of a disappointment when he didn’t go north with the big club in April. But the demotion was temporary, and further fueled his legend.

Carter lit up AAA with a .336 AVG, .390 OBP, and 1.001 OPS through 29 games before his promotion to MLB. His arrival was highly anticipated by the fan base, but he never really was given the chance to take over a position. Though the Mike Jacobs Experiment was failing miserably, Carter was passed over in favor of Buffalo teammate Ike Davis. Both at the time and in hindsight, the Mets made the right move, as Davis stepped right in to anchor first base. In truth, Carter was better suited to a corner outfield spot, and the Mets were underperforming at both corners. However, Jason Bay was not getting paid a boatload of money to be a platoon player, and Jerry Manuel inexplicably refused to remove Jeff Francoeur from right field for more than a game or two – even in the midst of multiple, lengthy slumps. Francoeur hit .211 in May, but Carter sat. Francoeur hit .132 in July, but Carter sat. When Francoeur went 15-for-88 and requested a trade in August, but Carter sat. When Francoeur was finally dumped on the Texas Rangers, Lucas Duda was promoted and Carter sat.

Jerry Manuel – who in the spring lavished him with praise for his work ethic and personality — made jokes to the media about Carter’s fielding skills, so we can assume that was the main reason Carter was relegated to a pinch-hitting role. While it’s true that Carter is not a good fielder – and in fact often looked lost in left field – he was no worse than the 2009 leftfield tandem of Daniel Murphy and Fernando Tatis, and didn’t deserve to be publicly humiliated.

2011 Projection

It’s highly unlikely that Carter will get a shot at a starting outfield position next season, considering that Jason Bay will return to handle one of the corners and either Angel Pagan or Carlos Beltran will be in the other. Something could change that situation this winter, but I doubt the Mets are looking at Carter as more than a bat off the bench. As much as I like The Animal as a Met, there’s a part of me that hopes he gets dealt to a team like the Pirates or Royals, who might give him a legitimate shot to play in a regular role. He seems to have a good eye, patience, and a solid bat, and defense is something that can be improved with proper instruction and repetition; we do know he has the motivation and will to work, so anything is possible. At 27 years old, he’s running out of time. Maybe the Sandy Alderson regime will value Carter’s above-average OBP and OPS numbers in the minors and extend him an opportunity, but my guess is that his best shot will come elsewhere.

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.
  1. brooklynlou November 23, 2010 at 2:55 pm
    Or they deal Beltran for a starting pitcher and second baseman and voila, you get Carter in RF.
    • Andy November 23, 2010 at 7:02 pm
      Maybe, but not likely during the off-season. If Beltran really lights things up during April/May, then a more likely contender may give up some pieces to get the remainder of his contract. But until that happens it probably makes more sense for the Mets to keep him on board and hope to catch his upside.

      It does frustrate me a bit as a fan that the Mets went and signed Jason Bay to that mega-contract when they could have plunked Chris Carter in left all season and gotten similar (or possibly even better) production for the MLB minimum.

  2. CatchDog November 24, 2010 at 10:24 am
    Carter is a perfect DH in the AL. I’d bet he’d hit close to 30 in Chicago. Build a package with the Animal, Zack Lutz, Murphy (Konerko is going to Texas), and Valdespin for Gordon Beckham and Bobby Jenks.

    Then trade Frankie to Detriot.

  3. Walnutz15 November 24, 2010 at 12:19 pm
    While I figured Carter to be redundant upon his acquisition, I was willing to give him a shot last season – based on the pitiful performance Jacobs was showing; coupled with horrendous results from Francoeur in RF.

    Unfortunately, for the playing career of Mr. Carter – he never showed enough defensively for me to say I’d ever be comfortable with him out there for more than an inning or two at a time.

    At the same time, he doesn’t bring enough to the table for these innings to occur at the beginning of a ballgame (translation: he can’t be a starting player in the NL).

    Essentially, nice guy — great team player — just not someone I value all that much to keep around on the Met roster……..especially if a guy like Murphy gets healthy enough to be around the Big League club in some capacity.

    He can play the outfield just as “well” as Carter….and has a better arm. Carter’s is terrible.

    Of the redundant-types, I think Murphy will prove himself to be more valuable over time…..10 times out of 10, too.

    • Joe Janish November 24, 2010 at 12:52 pm
      Carter does have a bad arm. Sometimes it looks like he throws like a girl (no offense to girls), which is ironic for a big guy nicknamed “The Animal”.

      I disagree on his value, though, because I don’t believe he’s been given enough of a consistent opportunity to show what he can do with the bat (i.e., a full two months of regular duty). Not sure if he’d turn into an everyday player but I could see him being a Garrett Jones circa 2009.

      Agree that Murphy has a better arm; I guess he’s potentially more valuable because he can hurt a team at more positions than Carter can. Er, I mean, he’s more versatile.


  4. Walnutz15 November 24, 2010 at 12:55 pm
    LOL – hey, I want to like Carter enough to say that he should stick with the club in some capacity….however, with a return to health from Murphy; and (baseball-gods willing) Nick Evans — I think you start to see a situation where Carter gets phased out of the equation in Flushing.

    Then again, I have absolutely no clue what the construction of the roster will be by the time they break camp. Hopefully, they’re active on the trade-front this winter.

    Still see Carter elsewhere, though….especially on a squad with a weak situation at 1st base.

  5. Walnutz15 November 24, 2010 at 12:56 pm
    * development from Nick Evans — not health