Tag: chris carter

The Animal is Free

Former Met Chris “The Animal” Carter has exercised his June 15th opt-out clause and is now a free agent (hat tip to “Mike”, who alerted me via email). Carter was hitting .270 with 10 HRs and 46 RBI in 54 games with the AAA Durham Bulls. His walks and OBP are down considerably compared to what he’s done in the past, but based on that high RBI total I’m guessing that he’s changed his approach to drive in more runs.

Carter seemed to have a golden opportunity to earn a spot on the 25-man roster and get regular playing time as a DH when he signed a deal with the Rays in January. But things changed quickly when the Rays later signed Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon.

Carter split his time between the outfield and DH with the Bulls this year, and though I haven’t heard anything about his defense improving, it’s interesting to note he did not make any errors in 26 games in the OF.

If the timing was different, I wonder if the Mets would have considered bringing the Animal back? For example, if Carter was available at the time of the Ike Davis injury?

Considering Carter’s power potential, my guess is he’ll find an opportunity somewhere. Since the Mets have lefthanded-hitting on-base machine Willie Harris on the bench, and young Lucas Duda back with the club, there’s no room for Carter in Flushing. But there are 28 other teams besides the Mets and Rays, so where do you think The Animal might land? Let me know in the comments.


Update On The Animal

From the “Where They Are Now” files ….

Kevin Kernan of the NY Post has a nice article on Chris Carter, who is now in Tampa Bay.

When “The Animal” first signed with the Rays, it seemed like an idea landing spot, since the team seemed to be sparse in terms of DH / 1B / OF depth. At the time, it appeared as though Carter would get a legitimate shot to make the big club. Of course, that was before the Rays signed Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon. Carter still is being given an opportunity to make the team, but his chances appear to be somewhere between slim and none.

Still, his attitude remains the same — happy to be in baseball. In addition to changing teams, Carter also got married over the winter (sorry, Erica!), tying the knot with a woman he met during his days in the Cape Cod League. He relayed to Kernan that he was surprised when the Mets released him, but had some very nice things to say about his time in New York.

“Once I found out it wasn’t going to be the Mets, I said, ‘OK.’ I just started working hard. I didn’t expect it to happen. I loved playing for the Mets. I was surprised by it. It was completely unexpected. I didn’t hear any rumors, but I didn’t want to dwell on it too long. I had to move forward because I didn’t have any plans.”

“Every time I think about it, I smile,” he said. “It was the best time of my life being with the Mets. I felt a part of that Mets spirit. It was really special. Shoot, they deserve to win a World Series. Hopefully it’s not while I’m playing because I’m with the Rays right now, but they’re amazing. And I really miss the Mets fans.”

Class act. I miss him even more, now — even if he does throw like a girl.


Does Smart Mean Good?

Since the Mets have done little in the way of providing storylines this winter, the media and blogosphere has had to grasp at straws in order to create content that involves the Major League Baseball team in Flushing.

One of the more recent angles has been the “intelligence” of the Mets’ new front office and their possibly not-so-coincidental targeting of similarly “smart” baseball players.

If you haven’t already read, new GM Sandy Alderson is a graduate of both Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School; his assistant Paul DePodesta is also an Ivy Leaguer, a grad of Harvard. Their combined smartness is expected to make the Mets a better organization. If you believe the Mets were a “dumb” organization before, then there is certainly some credence to that thought — even if DePodesta’s brains didn’t keep the Dodgers from recording the second-worst record in their LA history in 2005.

But when the intelligence angle is extended to the players, I’m not so sure it holds much water. The prospect of seeing brainiacs Chris Capuano, R.A. Dickey, and Chris Young in the clubhouse was interesting enough for an article in The New York Times, but that trio’s success will depend much more on their arms than their heads.

Maybe I’m just being my typically pessimistic self, but it wasn’t that long ago that the media made a big deal of John Maine’s intellect. More recently, there was Stanford grad Chris Carter, whose background in stem cell research apparently wasn’t valued enough by the Mets’ braintrust to offer him a contract.

One of my all-time favorite baseball stories about intelligence was rehashed by Mets By the Numbers a few days ago. It recounted the story of Jay Hook, an original Met whose sketches describing the Bernoulli Principle’s involvement in the flight of a curveball were published in an industrial magazine (pictured left, from the MBTN website). As it would happen, not long after the article’s publication, Hook was lit up (as he often was) by the opposition’s bats, prompting manager Casey Stengel to remark, “It’s wonderful that he knows how a curveball works. Now if he could only throw one.”

I know, I know — it’s a slow winter, and the writers have to come up with something. Intelligence is as good a topic as any; it’s hard to argue — at least, when there aren’t games being played — and getting smart ballplayers neatly follows the story of the intellectuals in the Mets’ fantasy front office.

What do you think? Would you feel more confident about the Mets’ chances if they acquired players with higher IQs?


Chris Carter Signs with Rays

In case you haven’t yet heard, “The Animal” has gone south for the winter (and spring) — Chris Carter has signed a minor-league deal with the Tampa Bay Rays, who extended an invitation to spring training.

The 28-year-old Carter was non-tendered by the Mets in November. He hit .263 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 100 games for the Mets in 2010, splitting time between right field and left field and coming off the bench as a pinch-hitter.

He was let go by the Mets because the new regime didn’t see him as a sure thing to make the 25-man roster, and because he spent as much he did on it last year, he would have been guaranteed to make at least $200,000 (60% of last year’s salary) even if he were to spend all of 2011 in AAA.

It was a somewhat surprising move by General Anderson and Co., since we assumed they valued players like Carter — who can hit, hit with power, and show an affinity to get on base. But I guess the move came down to saving a few extra dollars for the cash-strapped Wilpons. Hopefully they can pay the peanut vendors at Citi Field come April.

I’ll miss Carter, but once he was non-tendered, the writing was on the wall: the Mets’ future did not include his bat and hard work ethic. It always stunned me that Jerry Manuel had no problem making left field a platoon of Fernando Tatis / Dan Murphy, but avoided at all costs putting Carter in the lineup more than once a month. It also baffled me that Manuel never let Carter hit against lefthanded pitchers, since he tore them up in AAA. On the one hand I’m disappointed to see him go, but on the other, I’m happy for him and hope he gets a legitimate shot to make the Rays.

Considering his defensive deficiencies, one would think that Carter will be looked at in a DH role. However, the Rays already have lefthanded-hitting Matt Joyce penciled into that role. They also have a lefthanded-hitting first baseman in Dan Johnson. Though, Joyce also plays the outfield, and depending on where Ben Zobrist ends up, Carter does have an outside shot at making Tampa Bay’s big-league club. If nothing else, he’s likely to be the first corner man called up if he starts the year in AAA.

Good luck, Animal.


Time To Assess the Billy Wagner Trade

It feels like decades ago, but it was only a year and a few months past that the Mets traded Billy Wagner to the Red Sox in return for Chris “The Animal” Carter and a slugging youngster named Eddie Lora.

At the time, the deal appeared to be a salary dump by the Mets, who were eager to rid themselves of the $3.7M owed to Wagner.

Check that; it didn’t just “appear” to be a salary dump — it clearly was.

While the Mets relieved themselves of nearly four million dollars, they also


2010 Analysis: Nick Evans

How do we evaluate a player who had only 37 plate appearances at the Major League level? A difficult, if not impossible task.

Evans fought his way back to the bigs after a terrible slump that pushed him down to AA in 2009. He began the ’10 season in AA as well, smacking 17 HRs in 88 games before a late-season promotion to AAA. He continued to swing the bat well for Buffalo, finishing with a .314 AVG / .384 OBP / .557 SLG in 157 plate appearances. He was part of the MLB expanded roster in September and hit .306 while used primarily as a pinch-hitter.

What Evans showed us in 2010 was similar to what we saw of him in 2008 — a long swing that showed potential power but also a vulnerability to swinging and missing, adequate defense, and slow baserunning. Though his minor league numbers have historically suggested that he has a patient approach and good strike zone discipline, but he has yet to show either at the MLB level — probably because he hasn’t been given enough regular duty; pinch-hitters are generally expected to be aggressive. Evans may also have changed his approach in MLB due to confidence issues, and/or a need to prove his ability. Whatever the case, it would be interesting to see what Evans might accomplish if given an extended opportunity.

2011 Projection

Evans turns 25 in January, and has shown signs of improvement as a minor leaguer. He should be given every opportunity to win a job on the big club as a utilityman / pinch-hitter. Personally I’d love to see what might happen with a platoon of Evans and Chris Carter in LF but that’s unlikely to happen unless something drastic changes with the current outfield situation.

One thing that I continue to wonder about is whatever happened to Evans’ attempt at catching? He can already handle the outfield and infield corners, and adding catching to his resume would seem to be a no-brainer — both for the Mets and Evans — if he can handle it even in an emergency situation. If anyone has any info on the subject, please post in the comments.


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.