SHOULD WE HAVE KEPT CARTER?
[August 22nd] -- There were a lot of words bandied about on message boards and blogs regarding the "player to be named later" in the Wily Mo Pena deal. Some thought that Emilano Fruto, the player sent to Arizona to complete the deal, was too much. Others thought that the trade was fair for all concerned.
Me? I wonder why the Diamondbacks let Chris Carter go for Fruto, and wouldn't it have been smarter to have kept Carter instead of trading him to Boston?
Wily Mo Pena might become a solid major leaguer in time, though his major league career - at least so far - doesn't indicate his future one way or another. Carter, 24, might be a solid major leaguer as well. Carter hit 17 home runs in 2004, 31 in 2005 and 19 last year. He has 18 homers so far in 2007. In 475 minor league games, Carter has a .313 career batting average and a very impressive .919 OPS. Pena, in virtually the same number of minor league games batted .255 with a very pedestrian .763 OPS. Pena averaged a homer every 22 at-bats in the minors; Carter one every 21 at-bats. Carter struck out just once every eight at-bats while Pena fanned once every three at-bats.
Pena is 25, Carter 24. With Nick Johnson's future in jeapordy, which of these two players might end up helping the team in the long run?
NOTE: a reader suggests that the comparison is "apples and oranges" because Carter played in the hitter-friendly PCL while Pena did his work in the International League, more of a pitcher's circuit. I agree to an extent; the PCL, partly to due its stadiums and partly due to the elevation some of the team's play at (I live near Salt Lake City and balls fly out of Franklin Covey Field just like they do at Coors Field) does help batters. But I just can't believe that the player's strikeouts per at-bat, and OPS and OBP are a product of the leagues they play in.
But remember, the stats I mentioned were for their careers and not just their time at the 'AAA' level. Carter hit an unheard of 15 homers in a short-season rookie league. He batted .336 and had an amazing 1.016 OPS. Pena, playing at a lower level his first year (Gulf Coast League) batted just .247 with a .769 OPS.
Perhaps the best way to compare them is to look at how they both did while playing in the 'AA' Southern League. In 2002, Pena batted .255 with a .735 OPB while averaging a homer every 35 at-bats. In 2005, Carter batted .297 with a .960 OPB. Carter averaged a homer every 12 at-bats.
Now, I'm not suggesting that Carter is going to be a better major leaguer solely on that single comparison.What I am saying is that Carter appears - appears - to be a better all-around player. He strikes out less and he gets on base more often while having more power than Pena. No question, Pena, in any given at-bat, can hit the ball higher and farther than Carter, but he is also more apt to strikeout 10 or 15 times in a row.
Food or thought.
This 'N That: Both Jack McGeary and Josh Smoker made their professional debuts today in Viera with the Gulf Coast Nationals. Try as I might, I haven't been able to find out how they did. I'll post as soon as I find out something.
And yes, I agreee anonymous that the PCL is a hitters league, but hitter's leagues tend to inflate batting averages and home runs (many of the cities are at a higher altitude a la Denver)but I don't think that strikeouts and on-base percentage would be effected as much as you suggest. That said, I should have added your concern into the story. And I will.
At any rate, the Carter/Pena comparisons aren't really apples-to-apples. You point this out in a comment, but I think it bears repeating in this context: In 2004, when Pena was slugging .527 in the National League (granted, in GAB, but his OPS was still 20% better than the NL's park-adjusted average), Carter was just getting drafted. That's not really Carter's fault, per se, but the ability that Pena showed as an outfielder at age 22 is far more impressive than a first baseman putting up nice numbers in the PCL.
Maybe Pena's regressed since then (and I do tend to agree with some who think Pena's the kind of guy who would be a scorer on a lousy basketball team but not much of a spot contributor on a good team), but I'd much rather take a chance on his talent.
Links to this post: