The Yankees, and in particular Brian Cashman has taken the brunt of criticism for signing a $3.5 million first baseman who, in the best of circumstances is an all or nothing hitter. Maybe it’s time, though, to re-evaluate the upside to a hitter is with a batting average of .210.
The Yankees are continuing to fire on all cylinders as the month of June reaches to a close and attention begins to turn to the July trade deadline when teams are supposed to re-group and make the trudge to the close of the season.
A few months ago, I and a few others at least, would have been on the “Dump Carter” bandwagon, even with the impending return of Greg Bird. And Bird or no Bird, the question looming over the Yankees would still be, what if Bird is not the Messiah? And the team was stuck with Chris Carter the for the remainder of the season, including the playoffs.
The cup half-empty
You can look at a player in two ways, and both could make a forceful argument. Carter is hitting .210 with an on-base percentage that puts him on base only three of every ten plate appearances. True to his career history, he is striking out at a rate of three of every plate appearances.
He takes pitches straight down the middle and then swings wildly at one a foot off the plate. And he’s not going to get any better at this stage of his career. He is what he is. He’s a Jim Kingman, a Richie Sexon, or even a Todd Frazier, who the Yankees seem enamored with lately as a replacement for Chase Headley.
Nothing more, but also nothing less.
The cup half-full
Chris Carter, much like Alex Rodriguez was last year and in the waning years of his career, is a presence in the lineup. He’s someone who the opposing pitcher can’t relax on when he come to the plate.
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You have to make pitches to him to get him out, and Carter is displaying the patience required to make his presence known in the Yankees lineup. His somewhat modest totals of six home runs and twenty runs batted in hardly bear mentioning in comparison to the numbers his teammates are putting.
But they still translate into a 20 home run and 65 RBI season. And there seems to be very few in the Yankees organization who believe that Greg Bird would be doing any better. After all, they say Bird is healthy, so why is he still playing games in the minors?
Holding the fort down
Chris Carter is not the end-all at first base, and neither is Greg Bird at this point. And not to be overlooked, Carter has made only one error in more than 300 chances at first base. He may look like a big oaf at first, but he surprises with his ability and sure-handedness.
The Yankees, and especially this season with the wealth of talent in their organization have a myriad of options they can explore if they wish to study them. And, I guess, moving Carter to “purgatory” is an option.
But it’s been an option for the Yankees since he was signed. And Manager Joe Girardi has given no indication that he has lost confidence in Carter. And that has to mean something since he keeps running Carter out there every day.
There is a clear and powerful difference, however, between the 2016 Yankees versions of these players and the 2017 versions.
Why would Girardi keep doing that if it represented a threat to the team’s success? Chris Carter is a role player on this team, just as Chase Headley is. Nothing more, nothing less. And the team is winning.
Let it be.